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July 17, 1933 - Camden, NJ Envelope Cover

What you are looking at is a vintage piece of drive-in theater history. Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. invented the concept of the drive-in theater. His idea was issued a United States Patent on May 16, 1933. That day construction began on what would be the worlds first drive-in theater.

The theater opened on June 6, 1933 in Camden, NJ. It was quite an event. News coverage of the opening was gathering attention all over the country. In less than a year, the second drive-in theater would be built in Orefield, PA. Shankweiler's Auto Park opened on April 15, 1934. It is still in operation today. From that point on until the start of World War II, drive-ins began to grow in popularity. By 1941, there were about 95 drive-in theaters across the country. The war halted the growth of drive-ins due to restrictions on building materials that would be needed for the war effort.

After the war had ended and all building restrictions were lifted, drive-in construction began to gain momentum. By 1948 there were around 820 drive-ins in the U.S. After that, the sky was the limit. A mere 10 years later there would be almost 5,000 drive-ins nationwide. Some fifty years have passed since then and drive-ins now number around 430.

The significance of the item below to drive-in theater collectors and enthusiasts is enormous. In fact anyone that loves history will enjoy what is here for all to view. I obtained what is known as a "cover." It is basically just an envelope that held some kind of correspondence that was mailed to some other destination. Ahhh, but this isn't just any envelope. This envelope has a return address of, "
CAMDEN DRIVE-IN THEATRE INC. / CAMDEN, N. J." Even more significant is the date stamp of when the envelope was received by the post office. That date being, JULY 17, 1933. This mailing was sent out about 6 weeks after the opening of the world's first drive-in theater. The second drive-in wouldn't even be built for several more months.

It is amazing to me that this envelope has survived all these years. Most people get mail and toss out the envelope and eventually whatever was in the envelope. But this beauty is still here and I thought that everyone should be able to take a little glimpse into the past. Too bad the contents of the envelope are lost to history. In my mind at least, I'd like to think that probably Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. himself mailed this envelope.