DRIVE-IN CHURCH, DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, 1956
In last week’s slide the trailer was burning. So this week we go to church and pray. But not just any church! Oh no! We’re going where you honk to say amen!
A ’55 Pontiac, ’55 Ford, ’56 Chrysler and ’54 Chevy are parked for prayer. The preacher preaches from a shaded pulpit on a platform. His sermon is delivered from the same pole-mounted speakers that gave sound to the B-movie that played just a few hours before. Between Saturday night and Sunday morning this drive-in serves two very different purposes.
I wasn’t raised in a religious household. My family never went to church. My used-car-dealer-dad and my happy homemaker mom taught my big-bruiser brother and I to simply live by the golden rule – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. And so I do.
But long about my fifth grade year my mother apparently began to feel guilty about the lack of organized religion in my life. So she signed me up to attend a bible study class that took place in a long, long trailer that had been converted into a religious classroom. For several months the trailer lumbered into the school parking lot every Thursday afternoon. For 55 minutes we read the bible, sang and of course prayed. I do remember something about the “path of temptation” but, frankly, not much else because I was far too distracted by spectacular quality of the trailer’s knotty pine paneled interior. As a fifth grader it was the best I’d ever seen. My imagination was inspired and my spirit soared! To this day I don’t think I’ve ever seen better wood paneling.
Miraculously, this drive in church still exists. I did a quickie Google search and it was top of the list. It’s been a part of the Daytona Beach religious scene since 1953. It no longer does double duty as a theater and the screen is gone. But the preacher still personally greets each car as they drive away at the end of the service. It’s worth a visit to the site just to hear the theme song. driveinchurch.net
Let us now bow our heads and pray – for burning trailers, drive-in churches and the best wood paneling I ever saw!