Stars and Screens: An American Drive-In Project 6


Stars and Screens: An American Drive-In Project

Victoria Sanderson

At the height of their popularity in the 1950s, more than 4,000 Drive-In movie theatres illuminated America’s night sky. Today, fewer than 350 survive. The purpose of the Stars and Screens project is to document these hold-outs and to tell their stories.

I’m Victoria Sanderson, a TCT member, freelance writer and the creator of the Stars and Screens Project. In June of 2019, I’m heading out on a cross country journey that will take me to most of the remaining drive-ins—and I’m towing a 1984 “Low Profile” Scotty camper along the way. The 13 ½ foot Scotty I’ve named Honeybear will be my shelter in dense forests of Appalachia, the deserts of Utah, Montana’s Big Sky Country, and just about everywhere in between. On the road, I’ll be blogging about nomadic camper-life as well as drive-ins.

Stars & Screens

Why Drive-Ins?

Few businesses symbolize American culture more than drive-in movie theaters—cars, movies, hot dogs, small towns, open night skies—they all blend together to create an experience uniquely American. I fell in love with my local drive-in theatre over time, as I watched through my windshield and realized that the drive-in theatre experience hasn’t changed since its glory days: kids still run between the rows of cars while parents watch movies from their truck beds and teenagers huddle in dark corners. Few drive-ins can be described as “fancy” but there is some indecipherable, unspoken perfection about them that makes a month-old movie and a re-heated corn-dog feel like a great night out.

When I learned how little history has been written about drive-ins, I decided I’d write it myself.

VW in front of a Drive in Theater

Why A Tiny, Antique Camper?

Well, I already own the tiny, antique camper. While working on the Gulf Coast, I lived in my camper for six months, so I know her quirks and enjoy living the streamlined life a small camper demands. But I also think that a classic camper is perfect for this project. Like drive-ins, vintage campers represent a bygone era but have managed to survive through the work and dedication of enthusiasts like the Tin Can Tourists. And, Honeybear is just so darn cute!

Victoria Sanderson and Honeybear

How to Follow the Journey:

The open road awaits but the Stars and Screens project is already off and running! You can follow along by subscribing to blog updates at https://www.starsandscreens.com/. The project also has its own Facebook and Instagram accounts. If you know of a special campground or a favorite drive-in movie theatre, please let me know!


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6 thoughts on “Stars and Screens: An American Drive-In Project

  • Tom and Kay Rose

    we have the Cherry Bowl near us in Honor Michigan…open all summer and early fall.

  • Stephen Siemsen

    Hi-Way Drive-in, Santa Maria, and Sunset Drive-in, San Luis Obispo, are still open. Alas, Valley Drive-in, Lompoc, still stands, but is closed.

  • Walter Henderson

    In the North East Georgia mountains is a favorite drive-in of mine. Tiger Drive-In in Tiger, Georgia. Stop by sometime. Vintage car nite last Saturday of every month. They even have a couple of vintage campers on property.