During the ten year period of the 1930s, Americans had very little money, and learned to be very thrifty. They could not afford going to the movies and there was no television or other choice of entertainment, with the exception of the radio. Automobiles were a luxury few people could afford. Even if they had some means of transportation, almost all the roads were unpaved, so people stayed close to home struggling just to survive the very difficult financial times.
Following the depression of the 1930s, America became embroiled in World War II in a fight for its very existence in the 1940s. Again, money was scarce and most manufacturing was targeted for military purposes, leaving consumers with few entertainment choices again. Basic consumer goods such as gasoline, food products, and clothing were rationed by the government. After surviving almost twenty years of struggle and scarce choices of consumer goods and entertainment, America yearned for a time of relief.
Toward the end of the 1940s, America shifted from producing military goods and concentrated on consumer products. The economy boomed financially trying to keep up with all the pent up demand by consumers after almost twenty years of thrift. Roads were paved everywhere and people could now afford automobiles and gas, so they began to travel. Businesses learned to cater to this trend and all sorts of businesses began to offer the convenience of drive up windows such as drive up banking services, drive up pharmacies, restaurants, and even drive-in movie theaters.
Adel, Georgia was blessed to have three drive-in movie theaters in the 1950s. One of my favorites was the RIO Drive-In, located just off U.S. highway 41 South of Adel. The name was actually misspelled and should have been spelled “Rio”, but instead was spelled “RIO” and was known to locals as the R-Ten.
Late one summer night as the second movie in a double feature was playing, a farmer driving a pickup truck, came to a screeching halt followed by a cloud of dust as he approached the ticket booth. The ticket agent noticed a double barreled shotgun resting on the man’s lap. The farmer was obviously very angry and told the ticket agent he would not need a ticket since he would not be in the theater very long. He said he had learned his wife was in the theater with another man and he was going to get her. As the man blew past the ticket booth into the theater, the agent made an emergency announcement on the public address system that if there was anyone in the theater with another man’s wife, they had better leave because the angry husband was on his way in with a shotgun.
As this news began to sink in, it is reported that five cars cranked almost simultaneously and made a mad dash for the exit! The bewildered husband could not determine which car to chase and the entire audience erupted in raucous laughter since this event was much more entertaining than the old movie they had been watching!
Lesson: If you choose to go to a drive-in theater with another man’s wife, park as near to the exit as possible!