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The Public's Radio South County Reporter Alex Nunes spent a recent night at the drive-in with his family and shares this reporter’s notebook.



My wife, Stacey, and I are at the Misquamicut Drive-In Theater with our two sons. Julian’s 8 and Harrison’s 3. It’s our first trip out of the house for something fun in months. 

The drive-in’s running vintage ads before the movie starts. One invites us to the concession stand for tasty treats, like “the most delicious steaming hot coffee you ever drank.” 

But the concessions here are actually closed for the time being.

We’ve brought along our own popcorn in a big Tupperware container for everyone to share. 

“Here, take your seasoning pack,” I tell Julian. He takes his popcorn spicier than his brother, so he’s brought along a Ziplock baggie of chipotle seasoning for sprinkling.

Cars are parked side-by-side. Some are in reverse and people have opened up their hatches to watch from the floor of their trunk. 

For a second, it looks like an average drive-in scene. Then a guy walks by wearing a cloth mask, and I remember we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

The movie tonight is “Jaws,” a summer classic that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never seen.Maybe I just can’t get the pandemic off my mind. But watching Jaws, I see some parallels: People scared of a mysterious and unpredictable threat. A mayor who’s afraid his town will miss out on the tourist season. And a scientist who thinks no one has all the answers yet. 

Of course, the threat in Jaws is definitely different.

Other than the parking lot attendants and the guy who pointed us to our spot, we don’t interact with anyone else at the movie. But even if we’re all closed off in the little worlds of our own vehicles, looking around, you get some sense of camaraderie, a feeling that we’re all in this together. 

Harry doesn’t notice, and he’s not terribly impressed by Jaws. Classic or not, a film shot in the 1970s can’t compete with the special effects he’s used to. An hour into the movie, he’s fast asleep.

I make it to the scene where the police chief says, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” and then I doze off too.

My wife decides it’s time for us to head home, back to the world of sheltering in place. 

A quick goodbye to the parking lot attendants and we’re on our way. But something doesn’t feel quite right. 

Then it hits me: I still don’t know the ending to the movie!

Alex Nunes can be reached at anunes@thepublicsradio.org.