Friday, February 16, 2007

Hi-Way 39 Drive-in Movie Theater

Tina K submitted the following photo of the famous "Hi-Way 39" drive in movie theater.

Hi-Way 39 Drive-in Theater
This photo was taken May 31, 1997, shortly before it was torn down. The Hi-Way 39 Drive-in was located on Beach Blvd & Trask Ave in Garden Grove. Anyone traveling along Beach Blvd couldn't miss the giant screen. Wal-Mart now occupies its space. Even today, when I drive past the place, I keep expecting to see the giant screen. It's one of those things where having it missing is an eye-sore in itself.

Thanks Tina for the memories!

Click on "Post a Comment" below and tell us your memories of Hi-Way 39 Drive-in.

47 comments:

  1. I remember many a summer night with the rest of the Chestnut St. boys riding our bikes to HiWay39, turning the back row speakers up real loud and watching the movies from the roof of the apartment parking garages. Good stuff! B.D.

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  2. I remember Hwy 39 well. I was in High School when they tore it down. My mom would always take me there and when I was old enough, we'd sit outside in chairs. I remember just cutting my hair short, and watching arachnaphobia thinking spiders were crawling on me. Good times!

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  3. Memories flood back to me seeing the old picture on the back of the screen. Everytime we drove by the 39 I would always lean back out the back of my Dad's '71 Volkwagen Bus and try to see one of the movies playing. My parents used to date here, then took my older brothers when they were kids (and they had to sleep in the back of the bus after the first feature), and then me when I was a kid. We used to sit on top of the bus and watch. There was a little playground too. The last movie I saw there was Apollo 13, and then bye bye. I was so sad to see it go, I realized it's value even though I was only 15. Even now, like one other person said, I expect to see the big screen when I pass by there, but all I see is a big discount store which I refused to shop at then, and still have never shopped at to this day. It's just a shame, I wish we didn't just easliy throw out the little history we have here in Southern California. I miss that theater... had some great times there...

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  4. I remember this theater from when I was a kid (I graduated from high school in 1979). Thanks for the memories!

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  5. I was just working on a classic truck, when a piece of paper fell out from behind the dashboard. After looking more closely I realized it was a ticket for the drive-in. Had to check it out! Still wrenching in MN

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  6. I remember Hwy 39.I was in high school(the 60's) (Westminster) and a bunch of us girls would pile in our friends car and head to the "Drive-In". What a blast we had. We'd drive up n down the rolls until we got to the front and then back we'd go. Sitting on the car hood watching the movie was the greatest in the Summertime. What a great place the Hwy 39 Drive-In was. A GREAT MEMORY...

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  7. can't remember if we went there, we lived closer to la mirada, but i remember it very well.. it was one of the things we saw on the way to the beach..

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  8. I always think I'm about to see it again too when driving down Beach Blvd. (which my Grandma used to habitually call "Highway 39"). The fact that it got replaced with Wal-Mart proves that there is no justice in this world.

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  9. I took the same picture of the screen.before they tore it down its is in the City of Westminster.

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  10. Saw my last movie at the Hiway 39 Drive-In just before I enlisted in the Army in the late Summer of 1969. It was a double feature, "Bullitt" and "Wait Until Dark". Sitting in my 1950 Ford convertible with a pretty young lady. Doesn't get any better...

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    1. I was probably there the same night! Graduated from Marina High in 1969.

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  11. i worked the highway 39 in the late 80's and early 90's. the employees enjoyed the 39 as much as the regulars. fringe benefit was free movies...we worked full weeks and on our off days we went and watched movies. southern ca lost out when walmart came in.

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  12. I was born in 1947 so I think I might have seen the first Drive-ins? I love excellent Audio & Video that the In-door Theaters have but “nothing” will ever take the place of The Drive-In Theaters, there were a Family affair, two movies & maybe two Cartoons if you were lucky. A pot of Spaghetti or Mac & Cheese that Mom made at home, and then send Dad to that little shack to pick up some drinks & a few candy bars & who can forget Spotty-Light on the Blank out door screen where Dad had to keep up with that little figure bouncing along? Then go home at 1am & Deep sleep till Sunday morning, get up & skip breakfast if Mom & Dad were still asleep, go find your friends & do as much fun & or trouble as you can get in, what a full weekend then prepare for Monday that dreaded 1st day of the School week, but never fear, Friday will come again& who knows what Mom & Dad has in store..!!

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  13. Ahhh...the memories! Thanks!

    I was born in Santa Ana in 1944 and lived there until the late 60s. Remember so many summer nights going to the Hwy. 39, Orange and Paulo drive-ins! After marriage, moved our new young family to the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley in 1968 and found there was also a drive-in theater here where our children were able to continue the tradition of playing on the swings in front of the giant screen, then sit in lawn chairs outside next to the car watching a movie on those warm summer nights, eating huge containers of homemade popcorn and M&Ms while drinking the soft drinks bought at the snack shack that a young family could afford.

    As our children became teenagers, going to the local drive-in with their friends continued to be a favorite summer evening for them as it had been for their parents in OC during the 50s and 60s at the Hwy. 39, Orange and Paulo drive-ins.

    Thanks again for the memories and photo of the Hwy. 39 drive-in!

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  14. From Linda W.
    I used to work at the HiWay39 drive-in from 1970 thru 1972. I loved working there and we all had a blast! Once, some guys came up to the snack bar and ordered everything under the sun. As I turned my back to get their drinks, they grabbed everything and ran. We all just starred in shock. Remember the cotton candy during that time? I do as I couldn't keep up with the demand. Oh, and the french fries. I remember baking them on cookie sheets and running out all the time as they were in even bigger demand. We got free tickets to the movies there and at the other sister drive-ins. All the popcorn and coke we could eat was free and half-price on the food and candy. I also worked at our sister drive-ins. They would ship us out to work there when a "hit movie" was on the screen and were in dire need of help... Fountain Valley, Buena Park, Harbor, Warner, Lemon, to name a few. I did, really enjoy working there.

    If anyone remembers me, you can email me at: blue.eyeslinda@yahoo.com. Would love to hear about your memories.

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  15. What memories this brings back of me and my girlfriends going to the drive-in and hiding in the trunk or under covers in the back seat. We would all get as much food as we could at the snack bar and then go back, talk and just have a great time at the drive in on a hot summer night. I remember going on a double date there once with my friend and when I came back from the bathroom I accidentally got into the wrong car! Boy, was the guy I sat next to in shock! I guess his girlfriend decided to go at the same time and I took her place. My friends were watching me the whole time, while laughing their heads off at me. Good times!!

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  16. I moved out to Fountain Valley in the late '70s.
    My mom was dating a man who owned a condo there.
    He ended up moving out and some months later we heard police sirens and shots fired on Brookhurst.
    Turns out that the Warner (HWY39) drive-in was robbed and the guy who did it was my mom's ex. We watched him get shot by FVPD from the window of his old condo.

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  17. i remember the huge metal speakers you had to hang on your window to hear the movcie! the kiddie park and sandbox was right under the mainscreen...the whole family used to go in our wood paneled station wagon and eat kentucky fried chicken, under those scratchy plaid wool picnic blankets.

    Didn't the drive in become a swap meet for a while too?

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  18. I worked there for about 2 weeks. I was in the snack bar when the asst. mgr threw the keys down on the floor after locking the doors for the last time. We all laughed and thought that was the end of a crappy job. We all didn't really know how much it affected us until we left and couldn't come back. We all took something from High39 exit signs, tables and a huge piece of our childhood.

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  19. Yep, I had a 1970 Fleetwood Caddy and that worked great for getting friends in the trunk! Now that I look back, I dont think they really cared that people were in the trunk.
    ...Leo

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  20. How about the Anaheim drivein, on Lemon next to the old Zody's! Or the Stadium Drive. I think it was like 4 drive-in theaters. You could go to one and "peek" at the other one for free!!

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  21. The "Lemon St" or Anaheim Drive-In, was the first one I ever went to. Went in my pajamas, would swing on the swings until the cartoons started, and of course could never stay awake long enough to see the whole feature. I started going to the Hi-Way 39 in my teens and have lots of fond memories of it. I was so upset when I learned they were tearing it down to make room for Wal Mart. We even spent every Fri & Sat nite at the old Palm Springs & Cathedral City Drive-Ins when we lived in the desert in the mid-60's. The Palm Springs location even had a place to ride your horse in, hitch it to the hitching post and watch the movie! Last year I drove by that location and all that's left is the concrete where the speaker posts were, and they built a big WalMart next to it. I guess WalMart is now the new entertainment for today's families. How sad.

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  22. I used to live in Huntington Beach and my family used to go every month or so in the 70's and early 80's. I loved the mural on the front of the drive in very 'California' like. Unfortunately, like everything else, they tear down another piece of history...long live the Hi Way 39

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  23. Both Hwy 39 and La Mirada have a special place in my heart. Kissed my first girl at Hwy 39 and steamed up the windows of my old Plymouth in the back row of La Mirada many of times. It is a shame that we have to loose such wonderful parts of ourpast

    -Danny

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  24. I was born at the now torn down Westminister hospital in 1971. All my family went to Westminister HS and my mom use to work at the Mobile gas station accross the street. We use to load up on Slurpees and snacks at the 7-11 by the rail-road tracks and head to the 39 for many a summer movie. In the late 70's during the oil crisis we'd park one of our cars on the street outside the gas station to save a spot for the next days fill up and then we'd take another car over to the movies. Good times!

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    1. Westminster Hospital is still there...Its now a womans clinic:-) Right behind the DMV off of Hoover..I was born there too in 1978.

      I used to love highway 39 and from all of my childhood memories, highway 39 is one of the best. It makes me want to cry when I think about how bad it got towards the end of its run. They stopped taking care of the place, gangs and meth took over and families stopped coming. Then they tore it down. I had some of the best, most comfortable times there. The last time I went I was 16 in the mid 90's and no one was there except vans full of tweekers, a bunch of us troubles makers and rats. So sad. Ill always remember it as a fun place, full of families and kids and not as it was in its last days.

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  25. I remember going there one night with my sister. She had already graduated, but I was going to Orange High. It was summer and I got tired so got in the back seat and went to sleep. My sister fell asleep too and we didn't wake up for hours. I woke my sister up because we were going to be in "big" trouble when we got home. No one believed we fell asleep and thought we were at some wild party. The one time we really did nothing wrong.

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  26. Let's not forget the Warner Drive-in. I remember stuffing my friends in the trunk of my car because we were too cheap to pay to get in.

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  27. My brother and friends would lock us girls in the trunk and drive inthe exit...then we would have to beg him to let us out when he parked in the first row...remember that great pizza at the snack bar and having a date and swinging on the swings instead of necking...

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  28. Does anyone remember in the 70's when the Stanton Theater was taking over by some dudes and they allowed the patrons to smoke pot, drink and whatever while watching rock movies?

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  29. What a shame the drive-in has all but been erradicated in today's society. Such a great part of our culture in the 50's, 60's and 70's. A great part of a simpler time.

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  30. I to miss the drive in theaters, I miss the fact you were able to sit in the comforts of you car and enjoy the peace and quietness and you were able to adjust the sound. The walk ins are way to loud with the sound and you sometimes have children kicking the back of your seat and talking during the movie. My parent would take us to the drive in when we were children and you would be able to play on the playground till the movie started and play during the movie that you did not want to watch. Two movies, cartoon, and a news reel.

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  31. I to was a part of the Hi-Way 39 Drive In. Being a part of the management team at Pacific Theatres for years was a great experience for me. I greatly enjoyed the movie experience, working with the other managers, upper management staff; Mr. Collins was the best. All of this will be remembered for a life time. Well, I guess there is one thing left to say, See you at the movies.

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  32. Do you know how many chicks I boned there? That's where I lost my virginity. Now it's a Wallmart Lowes debacle. Like the world needs more of THOSE places. We lost part of the American culture to MONEY...

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  33. Many children were (almost) conceived at this place. Certainly a great many memories.

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  34. Like most of you here I grew up going to Hwy 39 Drive-in from the 60's through the 80's. My little brother brought up an interesting thing that I had long forgot about. If you got to the movies early you could go play on the playground or if you stayed in the car there was this music that played over and over on a loop. Does anyone know what music was played on there?

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  35. i saw live and let die and the mechanic when i was 10 years old,as i got older i went with friends and later with starting dating

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  36. ooooh the memories. I'm so sad that overcrowding and greedy developers caused this place to go, it would have made a come back if it just hung on long enough. Could you imagine how fun that would be now? They could have updated it and it would be a blast to go to now, in 2010. But alas, its a Walmart. ug.

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  37. Ohhhh the memories. I'm wondering how difficult it would be to build a new drive-in using wireless technology. One can dream!

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  38. I grew up in Santa Ana, so my parents took me to the Orange drive-in a lot. Later; in high school when I could drive and date, we went to the '39 more because it was new and had the biggest screen. Finally; when I married and had children (2 girls) we still went to the drive-in. The baby would not go to sleep, so we had to pull out of our spot and drive around the place for a few minutes, and then come back to the same place. She would be "out" by then.

    We now live in South Carolina, and there is a drive-in here. We haven't gone because you can't really see anything from the back seat these days because of the head rests (not to mention the bugs in the summer.)

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  39. Does anyone recall what the song track (loop) was in the mid-70s? There was this one song, like "Snow/Spell Blind/Bound" it was spacey, slow, male vocal that I have been trying to find but can't. Peace. My dad used to take us there all the time - we'd get there really early and that song track would loop over and over

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  40. I saw the original Planet Of The Apes there.

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    1. I did too with the then, love of my life, Elizabeth.

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  41. Highway 39 Drive-In ...My favorite drive-in in the 60's in Orange County. From weekends loading buddies in the trunk to dates with my high school sweetheart Sue Gregory- it had great memories.

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  42. i blew so many loads in that place

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  43. In 1979, '80 I worked at the Mobil gas staion that was across the street back then. Pumping gas, remember full service? The owner, Paul Lovelady, Would come around at 2am, drunk as a skunk, go out the back door and shoot holes in the hwy 39 drive in sign with his 9mm! Ahh, those were the good ole days.

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  44. Here's a Highway 39 memory for you; Must have been '81 or '82. A buddy and I spent the day putting a Blaupunkt Manhattan radio with a 120 watt Blaupunkt amp in my '67 VW. We went toe Highway-39 to catch one of the Starwars movies. At the time, they had a clip that you could put on your antenna to pipe the sounds into the car stereo. Well we had the Blaupunkt cranked up and every time there was a close flyby on the screen the whole car would shake! Good times!

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