Hump Day: Summer memories of drive-in experiences gone by

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

My cousin and I have a tradition of taking each out for supper on our birthdays. It was her birthday in June, but because of conflicting schedules we were only able to make it out to supper last Saturday. We decided on the popular Fred’s Restaurant in Cap-Pelé, where we each enjoyed a very nice seafood meal. My treat, of course.

Afterwards, we accidentally (I’m not sure how! Honest! Is my nose growing yet?) ended up at Dairy Queen on Main Street in Shediac. Now, if you’ve ever been to Shediac during the summer, you’ll know that traffic can be atrocious at the best of times, but it’s even worse during the Shediac Lobster Festival. We saw the traffic increase quite a bit as we neared the town on our way to Dairy Queen (accidentally, of course).

The opening of the movie The Minions was also last weekend and, according to news reports, it scored the second-largest opening weekend ever in North America for an animated feature film just behind Shrek the Third (2007) and ahead of Toy Story 3 (2010). Why is this important to my story? Well, because Main Street in Shediac is also home to the Neptune Drive-In, one of only about 50 drive-ins left in Canada. Each year, it attracts thousands of movie-goers wanting that old-fashioned drive-in experience like many of us had when we were kids.

So, add in all the tourists who were in Shediac anyway, include the Shediac Lobster Festival and then tack on The Minions playing at the Neptune and you had a perfect storm for an epic traffic jam. When my cousin and I drove by, the traffic to get into the Neptune was backed up the Ohio Road and all the way down Main Street for a few kilometres in every direction. Summer traffic in Shediac is often frustrating, but those funny little yellow Minions managed to get more than a few drivers a tad more upset than usual.

When we (accidentally) turned into the Dairy Queen parking lot, we both got a bit lost and ended up in front of a cashier inside. Not wanting to be rude, we both ordered a treat for ourselves. When we sat down to enjoy our frosty goodies, my cousin noticed that one driver stuck in traffic was getting testy and had stepped out of his vehicle to wag an accusatory finger at another driver. I’m not really sure what happened, but the confrontation didn’t make traffic flow any faster. There wasn’t anything anyone could do except wait for cars at the Neptune’s bottleneck up the street to pay and enter.

drive-inActually, I’d been reading updates on Facebook since Friday night from friends who’d brought their kids to the Neptune to see The Minions. It’s a summer tradition for many to go to the drive-in. For others, it was a first-time experience – one that everyone should have, quite frankly. My Face-book newsfeed was rife with stories of exasperated parents caught in traffic and kids freaking out in the back seat because they didn’t want to miss any of the movie. Like I said, it was the perfect storm. Hopefully, most people got to see the movie without having a complete meltdown.

Having grown up in the Lewisville area of Moncton, I remember the Skyway Drive-In which was located on Kenmore Drive not far from the Crossman Community Centre-Kay Arena. My family went there a number of times and had the typical experience. Kids in pyjamas who invariably fell asleep during the movie. A clunky speaker hung on the window with terrible sound which made the dialogue unintelligible at times. A trip to the canteen for fries, hamburgers, hotdogs, candy and pop. The kids in the back seat not being able to see the entire screen because their parents’heads were in the way. Ah, the drive-in! The one movie I vividly remember seeing at the Skyway was the 1976 remake of King Kong. The big screen made Mr. Kong look even more imposing – and scary!

Eventually, we got too old to go with parents and went with friends. Of course, we had to try to save money by sneaking in a buddy or two hidden in the trunk, often unsuccessfully. It was a stunt that got you thrown out if you were caught.

It’s sad that the drive-in experience is dying across the country. It’s a family outing which everyone should have at one time or another. Fond memories! The old Skyway Drive-In land is now a built-up neighbourhood, but I still think of King Kong whenever I drive by.

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