KOKOMO, Ind. — Many weekends in the 1950s, the drive in theater was the place to take in the latest movie and to see and be seen with friends. People arrived by the carload, settling in to watch from inside their vehicles, or spreading a blanket in the backs of pick up trucks for an impromptu tailgate.
Moviegoers attached the black speaker boxes to their cars, projecting the sound in, and ambled over to the concession stand, drawn in by the smell of freshly popped popcorn.
Going to the drive in was about more than watching a film, it was a social experience, but one that has disappeared over the decades, as indoor multiplexes replaced them.
One Indiana University Kokomo student is doing her part to bring them back, as a summer intern with the Honeywell Center in Wabash.
Ashley Lowe assists with publicity for the 13-24 Drive-In Theatre, enticing a new generation of viewers to experience the cultural phenomenon that is the drive in movie.
“We desire to ensure that the younger generations know and engage in this lost medium right here in Wabash,” said Lowe, 21.
The 64-year-old theater looks much as it did on opening day, giving those who attend an authentic experience. Lowe focuses on promotion and publicizing the drive in by creating social media posts and offering prizes over the different media outlets. She also develops signage, flyers, and information sheets.
One of her most successful efforts was “Throwback Thursday,” featuring 1980s classics every Thursday in June, to draw in young families. Audience members could dress up according to the theme of that week’s movie.
Lowe isn’t forgetting those who grew up with drive ins, either.
“I am also trying to initiate an antique car show for older generations, to create a walk down memory lane for many of them,” said Lowe, from Twelve Mile, Indiana.
She spends two days a week at her internship; one day brainstorming and planning ways to reach the community at the Honeywell Center. The other day she spends executing the plans at the drive-in. This opportunity provides Lowe a chance to learn more about lost cultures and how they can still play a part in the present story of the town and its people.
“My favorite part of my internship is brainstorming because I am able to be creative with my ideas,” said Lowe. “This experience has offered me first-hand interactions for my future as an event planner.”
She has learned many useful skills and knowledge in her writing and public speaking classes at IU Kokomo. The communication courses that she has taken have provided her with insight on how to analyze people and their reactions to different medias.
“All of my courses at IU Kokomo have helped me in various ways; whether it be my oral communication skills or writing skills,” said Lowe. “I am grateful for all that I have learned at IU Kokomo.”
Story written by Kambren Stanley. Kambren is an intern in the Office of Media & Marketing.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.