Over the course of time (and in the process, spending millions
of dollars in advertising revenue on television, radio, and ink),
it's been ingrained that Beck's is supposedly German for: Beer.
And whether or not you happen to be up on your German, it is
certain that on this side of ThePond, Beck's is American for:
A unique legacy: no American family has been continuously
involved with the outdoor cinema longer than the Becks have ...
ever since the days when picture show patriarch William D. Beck,
an amateur cinematographer and movie "evangelist" had wandered
from town to town with his reels and his projectors back in the 30's.
Beck's original outdoor picture show, out
behind Uncle Charlie's Restaurant (1936)
Although Beck kept the show on the road as late as 1939, by 1936
it could be said that this early impresario of the outdoor cinema was
entering his sedentary period .. having set his mind on establishing
a permanent venue for his picture show. In a time before television,
folks in Northampton County would go on down to Uncle Charlie's
little roadside restaurant and then after supper, find themselves a
seat on one of the benches out back to settle in for Beck's movies.
After three seasons, watching Becky's movies behind Uncle Charlie's
was becoming something of a local tradition. Beck however had more
on his mind than a cozy little al fresco cinema. In 1939, he moved
his outdoor theatre down the street to an open field where people
would be able to drive their cars into the picture show, naming it
The Route 45 Drive-in Theatre. As a drive-in, his latest outdoor
cinema was one of less than 20 in all of America at that time, and
the first ever to be named after the highway that ran alongside it --
a practice that'd be repeated hundreds of times in years to come.
1939: Beck's first drive-in picture show - The Rte.45
(notice the speakers mounted on top of the screen)
In 1946, the picture show went on the road again, one last time,
although Beck wasn't taking it very far .. only about one block
east of its previous location; where it has remained to this day.
While the location has remained the same for more than fifty
years, there have been many changes over the years. Speakers
that were once mounted on top of the screen, were replaced by
car window speakers for all of its 450 car spaces (and these too
would ultimately be replaced, by AM and FM local vicinity radio).
In the early 70's the State of Pennsylvania rechristened Route 45
(renaming it Route 248), making it rather awkward to continue
calling it the Route 45 Drive-in Theatre. The locals and regulars
in any case had always been in the habit of calling it Becky's ..
and so Becky's it was, and Becky's Drive-in Theatre it remains.
William ("Becky") Beck keeping the show rolling
William Beck passed away on April 4th, 1987 .. but the light is
still on over his picture show and his legacy continues, carried on
by his wife Alice - who, into her 80's, was still making the famous
chili sauce for Becky's hotdogs (talk about old fashioned flavor).
William and Alice's five children, who were raised by the light of
the silver screen, have had a hand in the running of the Drive-in;
now a 3rd generation of Becks help to see that the show goes on.
A Family Tradition: While there have been numerous theatre
chains operating Drive-in theatres over the years, and there still are,
throughout the history of the outdoor cinema, most Drive-ins have
been independently owned mom & pop operations, family run and
family owned. Becky's is the oldest drive-in theatre that has been
continuously operated by the same family.
Becky's movie slate consists of a mix of new first-run and current
feature films, with a double bill presented on their 80' wide screen
each nite (differing from the typical indoor cinema, in offering two
movies for less than the average cost of 1 multiplex cinema ticket).