The Murray State News recently gave us a quiet portrait of John Harrington, the manager of the Calvert Drive-In in Calvert City KY. Sometimes history is the sum of individual experiences, and reading what Harrington had to say about the Calvert can add to our understanding of what things were like in the early days.
Harrington’s grandparents built the Calvert, and four generations of his family have worked there. Recent improvements they’ve made to the place include a new screen (in 2003), a better concession area (2007), and now digital projection.
The part of the article that I liked best was the date Harrington picked as perhaps the beginning of the end of drive-in mania. It wasn’t what I would have guessed.
“1958 was a hard year for drive-ins,” Harrington said. “… In the late ‘50s/early ‘60s when TVs really started becoming popular, people could stay at home and catch up on the news. Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, people would go to the theaters to see what was going on in the war, and there were a lot of newsreels.” That’s a part of the TV experience I hadn’t considered, that it broke a habit of going to the movies to see what’s news. Thanks to the Murray State News for giving us that look back.