So what’s Playing at the Drive-In? The Skyway 1950


 

An icon in Windsor for many years.

With tonight, March 19, 2011, being the return of the Super Moon (last one was in March 1993), my thoughts turned to how little attention we normally give the moon. That is, unless it’s summer and we’re at the cottage, or we’re coming home late from a party and there’s a full moon glowing, or because nearly everyone on-line’s fretting about what the Super Moon could do to the planet. Otherwise, we barely even know what phase it’s in.

So then I thought about other activities we used to do outside at night where we might see the moon and I remembered the good ole drive-in movie.

From our research, the Windsor area used to have three drive-ins, all owned by the Dydzak Family: Skyway Theatre (above) on County Road 42, the Windsor Drive-In on Walker Road near Highway 3 and one in St. Clair Beach.

These two great photos were sent to us by Lesley Rubin, granddaughter of John and Helen Dydzak, who opened their first theatre – the Windsor Drive-In – in 1950.

It's a Family Affair

The people at the Skyway snack bar above (taken in 1950) are: (left to right) John Dydzak Jr, Judy (Dydzak) Klingel (Lesley’s mom), Constance Dydzak and Helen Dydzak (wife of John). Note the Peerless Ice Cream (a local chain of parlors) products for sale, including ice cream drumsticks for just 10¢.

The top photo shows the entrance; the show that night was “The Battle at Apache Pass”. Admission was only 60¢ and children under 12 were free!

Invented by Richard M. Hollingshead, the first drive-in opened on June 6, 1933 in New Jersey. His idea caught on like wild-fire. At one time there were 4000 drive-ins across Canada. By 2005, there were only 44 left. Most drive-ins closed in the mid-1980s; the introduction of VCRs meant more people were either staying home to watch movies or going to indoor movie theatres which were getting bigger screens and Dolby sound.

So, after little more than half a century, an era ended. I’m lucky. I got to go to a couple of drive-in movies when I as a little kid with my friend and her family in their station wagon. I don’t remember what movies I saw but I do remember how exciting it was to be outside late at night, loading up at the snack bar and then then trying not to fall asleep while watching the flickering movie screen from the comfy backseat of the car.

To find out more about Windsor’s drive-ins by read “Let’s Go the Drive-In” by Beth Fowler in our book, “Best of The Times Magazine” available at Juniper Books, Indigo Books, The Uncommon Market at the Art Gallery of Windsor or through our website here.

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About Elaine Weeks

How history was taught in my day: memorize lots of boring dates and facts, watch corny old black & white history films. There was one bright spot, however. Grade 9 history at Walkerville Collegiate with Miss Falls (Georgina) when she taught a section on local history and took us on a field trip to explore some of Windsor's built heritage. Due to a peculiar series of events, celebrating local history became part of my business. My company, (partner is Chris Edwards,) Walkerville Publishing Inc., launched "The Walkerville Times" in 1999, which in due course became "The Times Magazine". Our goal was to make history real. I am a writer, editor, blogger, photographer, mother, wife, sister, activist, traveller, gardener, knitter, masters track & field competitor (when I have time), glass is nearly full person.
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5 Responses to So what’s Playing at the Drive-In? The Skyway 1950

  1. OMG! That little girl! Judy Dydzak. It’s my great ant! My father, Joseph, also had a drive-in theatre. You’re right, you could say it’s a family affair. My dad would always tell how he loved going to the drive-in to help out his father. He use to spend his nights there, playing the movies. He remembers both kids films that they played there. It’s great to hear those stories.
    Fun fact of our family : my great grandfather, my grandfather, aswell as my father are all three names Joseph John Dydzak. My father is Joseph John the 3rd.

    If there’s anything you want to know, just ask away! 🙂

  2. Aaron says:

    Elaine, you’ve forgotten the Famous Four…where Silver City is now!

  3. Rich Cullen says:

    Mr. and Mrs. Dydzak were wonderful people! They had a winter home across the street from us in Boynton Beach, Florida in the late 1970’s. Mr. Dydzak often would invite me in and we would watch a hockey game and have a beer. These are great photos of them. My best to their family. RIch Cullen

  4. I used to do repairs for John back in the seventies, and many a night would pick up the phone to hear horns blowing in the background and John’s voice saying “Come right away, the sound has gone out.” If he was showing an expensive film he would want me to be there just in case. I saw the “Towering Inferno” about six times.

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