Tiger, Georgia. Population 316. Nestled in Rabun County, about two hours north of Atlanta, the little town doesn’t feature a whole lot to look at. A school, fire department, gas station, and four way stop sign are among the highlights.
“This place was forgotten years ago when the bypass came through, just like so many others around the country.” noted Tom Major, proprietor of the place in question.
The place he is referring to is the Tiger Drive-In. Located just off the side of the lonely stretch of two-lane highway that runs straight through the heart of Tiger, about a mile of the busy 441 Highway that takes thousands of cars a day from the mountains to Atlanta and vice-versa.
Sherryl Major’s parents originally opened the drive in way back in April of 1954. Today, some 63 years later, the drive-in is still going strong. Though it did close for some 20 years, Tom and his wife Sherryl have worked hard to keep this drive-in from suffering the fate of so many others over the course of time. In fact, the Tiger Drive-In is one of just 349 drive-in theaters left in existence, all the rest are long gone and all but forgotten.
On this particular day, the Tiger Drive In is anything but forgotten. You see, the little town of Tiger, Georgia is to be the destination of the Foothills Mustang Club of Upstate South Carolina’s mountain cruise. The club left Greenville, South Carolina, around 3 p.m. for a three-hour ride that would take them on some breathtaking mountain back roads, up through Highlands, North Carolina, and finally back down into Georgia to the drive-in.
As we stood on the side of the road, awaiting the convoy of Mustangs to arrive, we couldn’t help but take a trip back down memory lane. Back in 1954 when the drive in first opened, the first movie ever shown on the big screen here in Tiger was Thunder Road, the Robert Mitchum film about running illegal moonshine. A film, much like tonight’s feature, The Fate Of The Furious, that is based around highly modified hot rods.
Our walk down memory lane is quickly interrupted by the sound of 30 roaring and rumbling Mustangs carving their way through the countryside. It doesn’t take long before the first Mustangs come into view.
As we stared down that old two lane highway, waiting on the first pony to gallop over the hill, we couldn’t help but think what it would be like to stand in this spot in 1954 and watch all those early, flathead-powered shoe-box Fords, F100s, and early roadsters cruise to the drive in to watch what would become a cult classic film for that generation, much like the Fast & Furious series has became for our generation.
One by one, the club members pulled into the parking spots that Tom had designated for them right up front. As they parked, friends old and new shared stories of the road trip they had just experienced and admired each other’s Ford muscle. From there, most made their way to the snack bar to take part in a freshly grilled hamburger or some buttery popcorn as everyone waited on darkness to fall so the movie could begin.
Tonight’s movie is the Fate Of The Furious. The eighth sequel to the successful and popular Fast & Furious franchise. But as the sun set on the little town of Tiger, it becomes apparent to us that the Foothills Mustang Club isn’t here just for the movie, they are here for the good times and fellowship with other Mustang owners.
Darkness takes over the drive-in, and it’s show time.
Once the film was over, everyone shook hands and headed to their Mustangs to blast off into the night time air back toward South Carolina, all with a smiles on their faces and a little piece of ’50s Americana in their hearts. This club outing the attendees won’t soon to forget.
If you get the chance, we highly recommend that you slow down and take time to enjoy one of the remaining drive-ins in the country! Likewise, if you are anywhere within driving distance of Tiger, Georgia, you should definitely come see Tom & Sherryl at the Tiger Drive-In! We promise, it’s a memory worth making while you still can!