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Tri-Five Drive-In: 1957

March 1957. Gary, Indiana. "Teenage girls in car at drive-in." From photos for the Look magazine assignment "How American Teenagers Live." View full size.

March 1957. Gary, Indiana. "Teenage girls in car at drive-in." From photos for the Look magazine assignment "How American Teenagers Live." View full size.

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Where are they now?

If these six happy girls were high school seniors in 1957, they would be about 77 or 78 today. Wouldn't it be fun to re-photograph them in a similar photo now? I graduated h.s. in that same year and I can assure you that this was a very familiar sight from coast to coast and everywhere in between. Our drive-in hot spot was "The Big Dip" on old route 8 in Beacon Falls, Ct. Always lots of action every night of the week, hit tunes from the era and memories that have never faded. This pic definitely brought me priceless and wonderful flashbacks.

1955 Bel Air

The car is a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air sport coupe. The hash marks on the diagonal paint divider are unique to that year. Also on the 1956 the door lock is closer to the door handle.

[Both years had hash marks; in 1956 they were separated by strakes. - Dave]

The Age is in the Details

The upper paint divider (that chrome and black strip indicated by the blue arrow in the photo below) that runs on a slant from the beltline dip to the chrome spear reveals this to be a 1955 Sport Coupe. If there was another half-inch to the bottom of the main photo, we could see if there was a chrome spear running from the front fender to the middle of the door. Bel Airs had the front spear, while the 210s did not. As it is, there may be just a hint of a shadow under the Shorpy logo to suggest that the spear is there.

The teenager's car appears to have a remote control rear view mirror on the driver's side. These were mounted ahead of the wing window. As seen in the photo below, the regular outside rear view mirror was mounted just below the wing window—which, depending on how the dealer installed accessory was mounted, could prevent the window from opening all the way.

partial view

The Perkettes

These girls have had entirely too much sugar.


Nice to see Imogene Coca and Patty Duke together.


That takes me back to those wonderful days of my youth when it was all good.

'56 Chevy, yes, but --

Not necessarily a Bel-Air. The 210 also came in a hardtop and its chrome started in just the same way.

[The '55 also had similar trim. - Dave]

Chances Are

The girls are listening to Elvis, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers et al on the old AM. And some guy named Mathis had a hit that year too I believe.

Drinks in bottles

I remember well when you got a real soda to drink and not a paper cup with 70% ice, carbonated water with a splash of syrup. Dad's Root Beer, Pepsi and ( anyone known #3 ?

'56 Chevrolet Bel-Air

All you need is the trim to identify the model--Pontiac used the same body. I think it was Alfred P. Sloan (he of "a car for every purse and purpose") who also recognized the importance of small visual cues to differentiate models--Buick's port holes, Olds's rocket, Cadillac's fishtail lights.

Great Memories

For these young ladies. Also the girl in the glasses looks like my wife when she was that age.

Since I am from a country that is not acclimatized to drive-ins, my wife took me to one years ago here in Dayton. I could see why these girls look happy.

Handy hardtop

The absence of a B pillar enables more people to get into the shot. No doubt that's what the designers had in mind as well.

It's refreshing to see kids looking up while having fun rather than staring at their smart phones, isn't it?

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