Randy R Cox
In the summer of 1963, we were all hanging out at the Dairy Queen in Richardson, Texas with little to do. Someone suggested we sneak into the local drive in theater. Originally there were four of us. One of us was going to drive in, three of us were going to sneak in.
I was driving my parents 1962 Chevy station wagon. It was the largest of all the available vehicles so it seemed the natural choice.
One of the four was willing to drive, but he wasn’t willing to sneak in. He would
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pay his way in, as if that absolved him of the theft the rest of us were plotting. We were trying to find good places to hide in that wagon when a few additional people stopped by to see what we were up to. They wanted in on our conspiracy.
Sneaking in three was tricky enough. Two were going to lay low in the back floor board while I was going to curl up in the trunk—an area in the station wagon where the spare wheel usually went. We put the spare tire in the back on top of the trunk while I crunched up in the tiny area below. The third seat was folded down.
But now we had new people. There was no room. It was decided that it looked too weird for one person to drive a station wagon into a drive in, so a second person was going to pay his way in and ride shotgun in the front seat. The fourth party was an easy solution, but what were we going to do with the others. I don’t remember now how many guys there were but I think it was at least four more…maybe even five.
We were crazy back then.
We drove around behind the shopping center looking for boxes, large boxes. We finally found exactly what we needed behind an appliance store. It was a box that refrigerators come in. It was perfect.
So I climbed in my tiny spot in the spare tire well. The refrigerator box was placed on its side on top of me. Two guys lay on the floor board behind the front seat, but they had to lay the seat down now that the frig box was there. It wouldn’t go down flat because of the bodies there but went down about ½ way hiding the guys but tilting the box in at a bizarre angle.
One by one the other guys slid into the box. I was under it all, so I can’t be sure how they fit, but I think it was two by two. I do know there was never a silent moment. They cursed and grunted and elbowed each other complaining constantly. I could hear the door of the station wagon open and close. Eventually, the engine started and we were on our way.
I knew we were close when I heard the crunch of gravel and the stop and go of the vehicle as we made our way up the line of cars paying to enter. The closer we got to the cashier, the more uncontrollable the laughter. The whole car was shaking from the stifled giggles of the teenage boys intent on defrauding the owner of the drive in out of his deserved admission.
Finally, we could hear our driver talking to the cashier. I just knew the doors were going to fly open as we were searched by the police…but that didn’t happen. It seemed impossible that we would get away with this caper, given all the noise we were making and the constant movement inside that box.
Then suddenly we lurched forward and the familiar crunch of gravel resumed. The driver and his passenger were laughing without restraint followed by the explosion of laughter from the refrigerator box.
Finally, we pulled up next to a speaker and stopped. The driver adjusted his position to get a little closer to the squawk box and we were done. The passenger got out of the car and I could hear him walking toward the back of the station wagon.
Next I heard the tailgate of the station wagon open and the guys in the box pulled themselves loudly free. I was furious. By some miracle, we’d made it this far, but they were going to get us all caught with the noise they were making.
Finally, the lid to the tire well opened and I extracted myself from my hole. The refrigerator box was empty standing upright, blocking the view of the movie for the car behind it. The guys were all standing around the station wagon laughing and borrowing money from each other for refreshments.
It turns out we all got in for a dollar. The passenger didn’t even have to pay. It was a dollar per carload night. We could have all gotten in without the subterfuge.