During the last few weeks I’ve seen several stories in the news about how this country’s few remaining drive-in theaters have experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to social distancing.
That really made me nostalgic for Noblesville’s old ABC Drive-In Theater.
Just think how great it would be if the Drive-In was still around. We could all get out of the house and watch a movie . . . or two . . . or three, yet still keep within CDC guidelines. You could even go in your jammies!
(I should note that when I was growing up people who referred to “THE Drive-In” always meant the place that showed movies rather than one of the local restaurants, just as “THE hospital” was always Riverview, unless a facility outside the county was specified.)
For those of you not lucky enough to live here before 1996, the Drive-In was located on the east side of Cumberland Road, a little south of Monument Street, in the general area where Sunbelt Rentals currently sits.
When it opened May 30, 1951, it was called the “Noblesville Drive-In,” and it boasted space for 400 cars, “within-a-car speakers”, a “gigantic screen,” “modern restrooms,” and, of course, a concession stand.
In addition, management offered to furnish and warm up milk for babies, but I’m not sure if that was just for opening night or was an ongoing service. 
Attendance for the initial show, “Two Guys from Texas,”  was estimated at more than 1000 people.
The Drive-In went on to be an important part of this county’s social life for the next 45 years. 
It was a favorite destination for large families who couldn’t afford more expensive forms of entertainment.
My cousin, the Dancing Librarian, has fond memories of going there with her parents and four siblings when she was a kid. She said they would take along sandwiches, soft drinks and a grocery sack filled with home-popped popcorn, and make a night of it.
My parents weren’t big movie-goers when I was little, so most of my memories of the Drive-In date from my high school years. Spending an evening there was sort of like cruising the Jim Dandy — half the fun was checking out who else had shown up and what they were doing. The Drive-In had a big advantage over the JD, however, because you could also watch Billy Jack or Dirty Harry or whatever else was playing.
For several years beginning in the mid-1950s, Christ Lutheran Church sponsored a sunrise Easter service at the Drive-In. Also during that same time period, carloads of Noblesville High School students flocked there for special post-prom movie showings.
I can remember eagerly looking forward to the Drive-In's annual Fourth of July fireworks show. We’d sit on the bleachers of the old 17th Street high school’s baseball diamond (now the Ivy Tech parking lot) and watch the sky light up over the high school.
For most of its existence, Noblesville’s drive-in was the only outdoor theater in Hamilton County. (The Northside Drive-In — later known as the Mark Twain Drive-In — which opened in Carmel in 1962 lasted less than 20 years.) 
Over time, the Drive-In (as of 1964 or ’65, the “ABC Noblesville Drive-In” ) went through several upgrades — the concession stand was renovated, more car ramps were added, and the screen was replaced with a larger version.
By the 1990s, however, outdoor theaters were on the way out. People were watching more and more movies at home thanks to VCRs (and if that hadn’t killed Indiana’s drive-in theaters and their Dusk to Dawn shows, Daylight Saving Time probably would have.)
The Drive-In closed in 1996.