Column: Drive-in theater brings back memories

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on April 17, 2010

I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for drive-in theaters since I was kid.

My uncle took my brother and I to one in Kentucky when we were in elementary school that showed four movies in a row. I can’t remember all four, but two of them were “Thelma and Louise” and “Child’s Play,” the third one was a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie and I’m fairly sure I was asleep by the time the fourth one came around.

(A movie about two women who commit suicide at the end, a movie about a psychotic killer doll and a movie starring a man whose primary acting ability is kicking a bad guy in the face.

Needless to say, once our mother found out where our uncle had taken us and the movies we had seen, she wasn’t exactly pleased.)

Despite the many nightmares involving Thelma, Louise, Chucky and Jean-Claude that ensued after my sole trip to rated-R land as an elementary school student, I instantly fell in love with the concept of the drive-in.

I loved the huge screen that grew brighter as the last remnants of the sun faded away.

I loved the atmosphere of the place – the rows of cars lined up watching the movie as the speakers did their best to reach everyone.

I love the sweet smells of summer that filled my nose as they wafted past the car windows.

It was one of the more memorable nights I had as a child.

Today’s cover story is on the Cascade Drive-in in West Chicago, which I’ve been to a few times. Give it a read and see if your own memories of drive-ins don’t come rolling back.

• • •

Seven airports in nine days. O’Hare to Baltimore to Boston to Newark to Orlando to Charlotte to Midway.

Not exactly what I had in mind for a vacation week, but those who plan late (as in two weeks before said vacation) can’t be choosers when it comes to plane tickets.

I leave today for Boston through Baltimore to watch my wife run her second Boston Marathon.

From there, I’ll fly to Orlando through Newark to spend some time with family. And then I’ll fly back to Midway through Charlotte. We’ll see if my baggage makes it back with me.

And while I’m racking up frequent flier miles next week, Kate Thayer will be your contact person for story ideas and any help you might need. You can contact her at or call her at 630-845-5355.

• • •

I finally decided what I will make for the 60 Men Who Cook event being held May 7 at the Kane County Fairgrounds.

The winner is – red velvet cake balls. And unlike last year when I made stuffed grape leaves, my wife won’t have to worry about me stinking up the kitchen again. (Though I certainly will make a mess … that I will clean.)

I would like to thank all of the readers who sent me suggestions.

Some of the suggestions included lasagna roll-ups, roasted beets with chevre and bacon, Swedish meatballs and sauteed vegetables. While I won’t be making these at the event, the wife and I will be trying these recipes at home. And I’m grateful for the reader response and ideas.

Now, I just have to not mess up the recipe. It should be an interesting event.

Tickets are $25 presale and $35 at the store. They are available at the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, The Geneva History Center, Fagans Graphics, The Paper Merchant, and State Street Jewelers. It will benefit the Geneva History Center, Geneva Lions Club and Rotary Club of Geneva. Hope to see many of you there.

Joe Grace is the editor of the Kane County Chronicle. You can e-mail him at or call him at 630-845-5368.

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