Stars Ahead and Above

Author: Bob Williams

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, July 26, 2003

As a photojournalist, I find that my favorite childhood memories seem to weave themselves back into my photographs.

There was that summer in the mid-1960s when my two cousins from Chester came to visit us in upstate New York. During the blistering hot days, we drove my mother crazy, and many nights, to cool off, we all went to the drive-in movies.

We arrived in our shorts and T-shirts and changed our clothes like Batman before the show and watched the movie in our pajamas. The movies were always scratchy and the sound even worse, but the experience of watching movies under the stars was a true adventure.

Sadly, in the Philadelphia area, all my favorite drive-ins are but a memory, with the Route 202 and the Bucks County Drive-In closing in the last 10 years.

Still, anyone with a sense of adventure and the will can find a few excellent drive-in movie theaters - such as Becky's, about 15 miles north of Allentown.

Becky's is the dream of the late William Beck. The man known as "Becky" had his hand in movies all through the '20s and '30s but found his biggest audience in 1946, when he opened the Route 45 Drive-In on a sleepy country road in Berlinsville, Northampton County.

In 1971, Route 45 was renamed Route 248, and the name of the drive-in changed, too - to Becky's. Most folks were already calling it that anyway. The place could hold 440 cars, and many nights it was filled to capacity.

When William Beck died in 1987, the torch was passed to his wife, Alice, his children and his grandchildren. The drive-in operates today as perfectly as it did 50 years ago. It is a place where good manners and friendly service still exist. The quality of sound and picture equals that at any multiplex, and the prices are amazingly reasonable. The vehicle of choice for watching the movie may have changed from station wagon to SUV, but the stars at Becky's Drive-In still shine brightly.

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