By Trent Rosser
When was the last time that you went to a movie theater? Did you pay the outrageous price for a small popcorn and drink? Theaters have changed so much the last few years. When I was younger, we would spend the money to get in and we had a choice of popcorn, candy and soda. We sat in the rock hard seats and hope you get a seat by the aisle so you don't have to be bothering people when you have to get up to go to the bathroom or get a refill of popcorn. Then again, you also hope that someone that is not by the aisle do not have to get up either. It was a no win situation. The prices for the soda's and candy and popcorn are outrageous now a days. I spent over $20.00 for just my wife and myself. We even split the popcorn.
We recently went to see a movie called "Aquaman". Yes, it was about the superhero who talks to fish. It was an alright movie, but I believe that my wife enjoyed it just for the action star that was playing him. Theaters now have reclining seats, with seat warmers. Really? Butt warmers at a movie theater? Some theaters now have waiters and waitress to bring you your snacks. One thing that I thought I would never see, is that they now sell alcoholic beverages at theaters. It was like taking my wife on a very high class date. One thing that has also changed from when I was younger, was the drive in theater.
Drive ins were the places to go to see a movie and sit in the comfort of your own car. They had a playground for the kids so they can have fun before the movie even starts. People would pull up in their brand new 1970's pick up and pull out lawn chairs and a cooler to sit in the warm summer night air to watch "Star Wars". Teenagers will go and take a date there, but wouldn't quite watch the movie. Many children were conceived at their local drive in. The speakers were on a little pole and you pulled a box off of the pole and connect it to your car window. But, as I have said before, the only thing that stays the same is "Everything Changes". With time, the drive in theaters slowly started to diminish. Eventually, drive in theaters were a thing of the past, but, there came a bit of hope.
Approximately 20 years ago, Rhett Burns and his family purchased the old Tascosa Drive In and started to remodel to get it running again. Out went the old speaker boxes and in came a new system that lets you turn your car radio on to a certain station to listen to the movie. They opened up the concession stand that sold popcorn, cokes and candy. It was a hit. People started to go back and relive their old days and watch new movies. The price was not expensive either. You could get popcorn, coke and candy for a reasonable price. Then technology caught up with them. Due to everything going digital, they were almost forced to shut down unless they purchased the new equipment. The price was astronomical to say the least. But for shear determination, they were able to get the equipment and they were able to stay in business.
The digital age was not the only thing that affected them. With the new equipment came a new way of doing things. They were able to expand the menu to include hot dogs, and nachos as well as a variety of different foods. Recently they expanded the entire concession stand so they would be able to sell funnel cakes as well. Business was good and everyone in town knows about the Tascosa Drive In.
Unfortunately, life happens. It is devastation when a child passes away, and that is what happened to the Burns family. Instead of closing, he did what his child wanted him to do and keep the drive in open. They had a special weekend in memory of their child. The turnout was great.
Last Wednesday, tragedy struck again. This time it was mother nature who took a swipe at the entire Texas Panhandle. Tascosa Drive I was in the middle of that path. As record hurricane strength winds tore through town, the drive in was unable to withstand. The marquee was damaged, the fence line was destroyed and even the screen itself was now in dire need of repair. Some have said "Hope they have insurance". Yes, they did, but as anyone who has dealt with insurance companies, getting repairs done is time consuming and most the time the insurance will not cover the entire cost of the repair. This is the case here as well. The Burns family is in need of help to cover the cost of repairs. They do not want to close, but without the proper repairs, they will be forced to. The season has already started for Tascosa Drive In, but they are unable to show any movies until the repairs are complete. The longer the wait, the more they lose and the more we lose. No more cheap prices to watch not 1 but 2 great movies. No more cheap sodas and popcorn. No more Drive In at Amarillo, TX. The Burns have started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost. If anyone wants to donate to a great cause, please visit their GoFundMe page. Please do what you can to help the drive in stay open. After all, what will you tell your grandchildren 20 years from now when they ask, "What is a Drive In?" I want to tell my grandchildren all about Tascosa Drive In and some of great times we had there. Please donate to help.