Drive-Ins, Roller Rinks, and Scooping the Loop--Iowa Works for the Weekend

Sep 11, 2015

When the automobile became available to the larger population, it made major waves in how people spent their weekends. Iowa was no different, as both rural and urban areas saw the advent of drive-in movie theaters.

“We had over 80 drive-ins across the state at one time. You could be in a larger town, but towns like Pocahontas had drive-ins, Perry, Emmetsburg, and they would stay open late into the fall,” says Iowa State Historical Society state curator Leo Landis.

And though there are only a few drive-in theaters left in Iowa, car culture extended past the destinations to the act of driving itself. From the time cars became available to teenagers, cruising aimlessly, or ‘scooping the loop,’ was a simple way to get out of the house and socialize with friends.

That’s one trend that hasn’t faded with time. One listener comments that when he was a teenager in the late 90s and early 00s, weekends were spent “driving around West Des Moines pretending something might happen but mostly just messing around listening to music and wasting gas.”

In this Iowa Week edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Landis about the dance halls of the 50s, roller rinks of the 70s, and malls of the 90s, with listeners adding their Iowa weekend memories.