This portfolio, Please Remain Standing, incorporates photographs of hometown cinemas and drive-in theaters made over the last 40 years—crisscrossing the U.S. to document these treasures before they are gone. The title of the portfolio is a nod of recognition to Clarence, the manager of the Carib Theater in Clearwater, Florida, where I grew up. Prior to playing a scratchy reel of the Star-Spangled Banner before every movie, Clarence would announce over the loudspeaker that everyone “please remain standing for our national anthem.” Should someone not rise, the houselights would come on to reveal their identity.
Although small-town theaters lacked the budgets of the extravagant movie palaces often found in big cities, their patrons nonetheless appreciated their local cinemas for bringing together their communities for more than just entertainment—acting as a gathering place for events, plays, and even town meetings. In these past few months of 2020, drive-ins have experienced a resurgence, and with it a new appreciation for shared experiences of a positive nature. My hope is that these photographs will be a reminder to patronize and support what is important to you and to your community.