Washington Shores Drive-In
3950 Columbia Street,
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African-American audiences in Orlando were treated to second run double features at the Carver Theatre, Lincoln Theatre and the 200-car capacity, Washington Shores Drive-In. Owned by B.H. Evans, a local African-American businessman who later built a Sunoco service station right across the road on Columbia Street. The Washington Shores Drive-In opened June 14, 1950 with Barbara Stanwyck in “East Side, West Side”. It was closed on April 28, 1961. It was demolished by 1969.
A bunch of us teenagers would pile in the trunk on $1 a carload night and emerge once the car was parked. The drive-in was surrounded by woods so it was also easy to sneak in by foot, then sit on a bench right in front of the huge outdoor screen where youngsters fought over seats and losers wound up on the ground.
The concession stand sold an amazing variety of greasy food and smoke rings to chase away mosquitoes that ate you alive in the summer. You froze in the winter when engines often idled with the heaters blasting. During the rainy season the parking lot was transformed into a swamp and cars often got stuck. Horns blew when there were problems with the projectors.
Before Johnson Village was built in the mid-1950’s, there was nothing but pine trees separating our house (next to the Smith Center) from the drive-in which allowed me - and my overnight friends - to see (if not hear) the screen from my back bedroom window. Vineland Road was still a two lane black top with two cars an hour which made it easy to count cars while waiting for my mother to come home.
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