Some things are just priceless, like the time my folks took the kids to the Bayou 3 Drive-in Theater on I-45 at FM 1764 in La Marque.
My dad, Dr. Rufus Stanton, placed a wooden pallet over the back seats of our blue ‘61 Oldsmobile 88, and my mom, Janice, covered it with blankets and pillows. We watched “101 Dalmations” and ate mom’s fried chicken, along with plenty candy and popcorn.
Later in my teens, I was excited when a girl I really liked said she would go to the drive-in with me. But there was a catch: I had to ask her mom. When I got up my courage to ask, her mom said, sure – as long as we took the little sister along, too. Life just wasn’t fair.
Today, the Bayou 3 Drive-in is long gone, destroyed by Hurricane Alicia in August 1983.
According to driveinmovie.com, Texas was host to the third drive-in theater in the nation, the Drive-In Short Reel Theater, which opened on July5, 1934, in Galveston. Later, the island reportedly had another drive-in called The Oleander, located just east of the Galveston Causeway.
… as in most things, Texas went at it in a BIG way .. by the late 50's, generally the peak years for American drive-ins, Texans had the biggest peak in the industry, hosting nearly 400 outdoor theatres. Although the state had held-out in true Alamo fashion, longer than most, and, was still harboring nearly 200 drive-in theatres even 20 years after the boom .. but ultimately, Texas would see their number decline by 96%.
No doubt, today’s air-conditioned movie theaters with their plush seats and Dolby sound systems bring movies to life in grand fashion. But if you talk to folks who experienced drive-in movies, another world of entertainment emerges.
I reached out to some members of “Galveston Remembered” on Facebook, and they shared their memories of the Bayou 3 Drive-in. Here’s what they had to say:
When we were kids we went almost every Saturday night. They had a special but I never paid attention to how much it cost. Mom would make a big bag of popcorn with butter and pack the ice chest with Kool-aid and sandwiches. They had a playground in front of the screen and we kids would play there most of the time. I remember seeing all the Clint Eastwood westerns there, so many scary movies in the early 70`s. I remember driving by on the freeway and seeing the movies. They showed porn for a short period of time and we drove by to see a scene from Deep Throat! I looked at a rental next door and it was "wired" for sound. You could watch movies from the picture window in the living room.
Omg, I do remember going here as a child many times. It was so cool, I remember my Uncle taking us quite a few times, so many of us wanted to go together, but only had one vehicle, so a couple of us would pile into the trunk, oops! I realize now that was so illegal, the ones in the trunk were getting in free. We would have a blast! When my parents would take us, my siblings and I would often go and sit in on another movie we wanted to watch! I too remember the citronella coils we used to burn. The concession stands were awesome! I remember the carpet was a real deep red and black, it always felt so cold in there? It was huge! I could go on and on, have many memories there! The movie that sticks with me the most was Texas Chainsaw Massacre! I was terrified leaving that night, we went the back way exit, in which you had to drive along side this metal wall which took you behind the huge screen, there were always deep potholes for it was all dirt. Fun memories!
We used to sneak people in by putting them in the trunk or covering them with blankets, It was a great place to go on a date. Climbed out of the backseat one time to find the movie had ended and everyone else was gone lol
Helen Hyatt Dalbergo
We went there often, in the fifties! This was BT, before television! Every Friday night my daddy would take us to the drive in, on I-45! Preston and I went a lot when we were young and lived in Charleston! It was cheap and you didn't have to dress up, to see and be seen; and it was fun! Good thing to do when on a budget and lived on my income and his sailors salary.
Betty Foy McDaniel
Went to see many at the Bayou on I-45. The only one that I can remember tho is The Night Of The Living Dead. Probably because my boyfriends friend snuck over and screamed in the window. Scared the chit out of both of us. Lol