Monday, August 31, 2009

- Better than OK at the Corral: Drive in movies Wimberley style

This past weekend Don and I had an experience well worth the price of admission. Now it should be said up front that we expected to have a great time watching Julie and Julia. But the best part of the evening turned out to be the venue, and that's saying something.

The Corral Theatre is a Wimberley landmark. We paid $5.00 each to gain entrance to an open-air enclosure that did bear a striking resemblance to a corral, although the fencing was solid, presumably to muffle the sound of cars on Ranch Road 3237. We brought beach chairs with us, not knowing how much seating would be available, but opted to sit in the 1950s vintage green metal lawn chairs … you know, the kind that gently rock as you lean back.
Those who preferred the assorted resin chairs sat a little farther back. All told, there were probably a hundred folks on hand to watch Julie and Julia, while munching popcorn, soda and candy from the concession stand, sold for the blissfully retro rate of a buck a pop. Bargain prices notwithstanding, some of those in attendance strolled in with their own coolers containing beverages and snacks, all under the benevolent eye of the proprietress who welcomed each guest.

The movie was scheduled to begin at “dark thirty,” which we learned was about half an hour after sunset as the stars began to prick their way into the sky and the moon settled into the branches of a live oak. The screen, a white-washed mosaic of masonite, and the fence-mounted speakers were a distinct improvement on the standard megaplex fare, and the gentle breeze was better by far than any air conditioning system yet invented. The old projector stuttered at the beginning of each reel, lending an authenticity and sense of fun to the whole enterprise.  There was one pause in the action, about 30 minutes into the film.  As the lights came up, one of the teens from the concession stand walked down the aisle and pulled ticket stubs from a bowl in order to award free tickets to some lucky movie-goers. But at $5.00 a head, we’ll be back, freebies or not. Heck, I’d pay twice that in a New York minute.