John Boston | Ms. Randi, Tom Wolfe & the Old Mustang Drive-in

John Boston
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Recently, in the Garden of Stupidity sometimes referred to as this newspaper’s Letters to the Editor section, a rare and beautiful flower blossomed. Randi Kay penned a thought piece that didn’t call for beheadings, gasp and how un-fun, “common sense” or, worse, “the formation of a blue-ribbon committee of the connected, daft and elderly to further study the matter.”


Randi asked for something I’m not sure we can have. It was subject and title of Thomas Wolfe’s 1940 novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Pity. The sins we could amend, the sharp edges we could sand, the damn dumb stupids we could have avoided.

Randi Kay wants Santa Clarita to have a drive-in theater again. She longed for our ancient Mustang on Soledad, in long-forgotten Honby. It opened 54 years ago almost to the day and was dismantled in the late 1980s. 

In its final days, no pun intended, but to, ahem — make ends meet — the ‘Stang aired X-rated movies. Which caused a problem. Seeing giant naughty parts being desperately caressed by non-married people making babies caused more than a few accidents on Soledad Canyon. 

In her letter, dear young Ms. Kay waxed poetic about simpler times, of announcements over a scratchy loudspeaker: “The concession stand will be closing in 10 minutes! Ten minutes…!” 

I’ve complained ad nauseum that one of the main reasons I don’t go to the film house much is the heinous and toxic state of movie popcorn. It’s a car payment and tastes like dryer lint, only crunchy. They’d make pizza at The Mustang and it actually tasted like pizza, not like today’s concession stand ketchup-on-cardboard with a diseased bicycle patch posing as a lonely pepperoni.

In high school, I dated a girl named Dixie and we had a ritual that still makes me smile. Dix was a delightful soul, beautiful, brilliant and blessed with a devilish sense of humor. Last I heard, she lives down Mexico way, probably running a drug cartel because Dixie was a bona fide Go-Getter. 

Before the first movie, we’d have the same exchange of dialogue. Deadpan, I’d ask: “Would you like to go in the back seat?” 

Dixie would respond: “No. I want to stay up here with you.”

Never got old.

My best pal Phil Lanier and I co-owned a 1956 forest green Mercury convertible with leopard-skin upholstery. 

It. Was. Completely. Sano. 

You could put four picnic tables, three steers, a Barca-lounger and The Lesbian Pentecostal Choir in the trunk. Or, two girlfriends and some soda pop. Phil and I didn’t do this ALL the time, but, occasionally we’d go human trafficker and place our beloved lady companions in the trunk and sneak into The Mustang half-price. 

Yes. I know. From The Signal’s women demographic: 

“My. Weren’t you two husband material…”

Our freshman year in college, Phil and I were co-editors of Amalgamated Buffalo Chips, an eye-watering insufferable college satire magazine. It was about as funny as Joe Biden taking a driver’s test. In our second issue, we ran a “Win A Date With The Editors” contest. The only entrants were two co-eds who went under the pseudonym of: “The Snort Sisters.”

We snuck las Snortas into The Mustang in the back of a 1956 Ford pickup, covered them up with horse tack and saddle blankets. I know. You don’t need to tell me. Lanier and I might as well had flagpoles glued to our spines with red flags fluttering in the breeze when we went out on dates. It was a fun night, a “Thank You For The Wonderful Evening Please Don’t Try To Spoil It Handshake Night.” Even at 19, I was relieved.

Once, at The Mustang, I was shot at. Despite that little wrinkle, it was a fun night. Four of The Worthless Sons Of The Wealthy Landowners (all paid admissions) were in my potty-brown 1959 Buick (cars were like a dollar back then). The second feature had just started. No. 4 of the Worthless Sons, Dana Knauber, was madly high-stepping toward the car, screaming for me to start it up so we could get the gosh-darn-heck out of there, only Dana “Nobs” didn’t say, “Gosh-darn-heck” and his voice was up eight octaves.

Waxing nostalgic about my childhood, I sometimes wonder. 

Why did so many of my friends carry weapons? Dana never went anywhere without a switchblade the size of a hoe. The weed-abatement utensil. Not the naughty Santa Clarita lady of the evening.

Dana dove into the back seat, frantically blurting that the manager was chasing him and we truly needed to vamoose because the manager had a shotgun. On cue, the air was shattered with a thunderous boom and to this day, I wonder what is wrong with middle management that they’d fire a shotgun into a field of cars filled with mommies, daddies and toddlers in pajamas with feet while Doris Day and Rock Hudson stared disapprovingly down from the giant outdoor screen.

Oh well.

Rural living.

People packed holstered revolvers while diapering babies.

Turns out Dana had stolen a Sparkletts water bottle. Why? Dana was nuts. Still is, thank both you and goodness.

With apologies to Randi Kay and Thomas Wolfe, I must point out: Maybe you can go home again — but not to the Mustang Drive-in.


They’ll plumb shoot you.

John Boston is a local writer, with many awards, and, as of press time, no women, ahem — quarantined — in the trunk of his car.

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