Top Gear: Long time no see, Socrates. Let us talk of drive-in cinemas, for they are back!
Socrates: So I hear, Top Gear. But please, let us begin at the beginning. To know where we are, we must know from where we have come.
TG: Most wise, Socrates. Well, the story of the drive-in begins with an obese, angry mother.
S: As do so many great quests.
TG: Quite so. In New Jersey, in the late Twenties, a young entrepreneur named Richard Hollingshead found himself cooped up at home with his frustrated, overweight mother.
S: Why was she frustrated?
TG: Because she was very enormous, and therefore could not visit the cinema. At least not in comfort, and not without several shoehorn-wielding ushers to extract her afterwards. So her diligent son decided to do something about it. One balmy summer’s evening, young Richard parked up the family sedan in the front garden, levered Ms Hollingshead onto its front bench, balanced a Kodak projector on the hood, nailed a bedsheet between a couple of trees… and lo, the world’s first drive-in cinema was born.
S: Any loving son would do the same. Was the portly Mrs Hollingshead pleased with her son’s exertions?
TG: History, sadly, does not record her reaction. But, clearly believing he was onto something, Hollingshead Junior spent the next few years finessing his concept – not least by upgrading the trees and bedsheets arrangement to an actual screen, and the front garden to a purpose-built amphitheatre. In 1933, in Camden, New Jersey, he opened the world’s first drive-in cinema, with space for 400 cars.