LEXINGTON, Virginia — Remember real butter on popcorn? Snow cones drenched with syrup? And hamburgers that tasted like, well, hamburgers? Remember the drive-in movie?
Here in Lexington, at Hull's Drive-in, a summer weekend still takes a back seat to a double feature — a tradition more than 3,000 American towns have lost since the 1980s as land values and entertainment tastes changed.
"It's like sitting on the front porch," says Elise Sheffield.
But when Hull's closed, the town focused on saving it, because the view for Elise and Eric Sheffield was too good to lose.
"Drive-ins are a special place, Eric Sheffield says. "There's something magical that happens here."
"It's not even really about the movie," Elise says. "They're coming here for something else, which is time to be with the people they love — whether it's a date or their kids."
With mostly $5 and $10 donations, Hull's Drive-in is now community-owned. And open. And Frank Kulesza is still stringing the 35mm film through the antique projector.
And if something breaks down?
"Well, sometimes it's paperclips, duct tape," Kulesza says.
Showing PG movies and charging just 5 bucks (kids are free), it's not unusual to get a full house.
If you're old enough to remember drive-ins, you remember how you tried to get in sometimes in the trunk of your buddy's car. And it's still happening today. Some things never change.
Whether it's in an antique car, or a pink Cadillac, the drive-in strikes a nostalgic cord of a slower, simpler and safer world.
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