By early 1964 the City of Downers Grove, Illinois had its fill of rowdy teenagers at the local drive in restaurants. Fed up with the seeming lack of response by some of the drive in operators, councilman John Behnke, with the assistance of the Illinois State Highway Department, took it upon himself to conduct a study of the behavior at one local drive in.
His study was conducted on a Friday night between the hours of 9:00 pm - 1:30 am. On that single evening, Mr. Behnke counted an amazing 654 cars "looping" through the lot of this drive in! Interestingly, not one of those cars made a single purchase. He also noted that some of these cars were from as far away as Chicago and Aurora. The reason behind this huge volume of traffic was that every other drive in closed at midnight on Friday night while this one stayed open until 2:00 am.
The next city council meeting found Mr. Behnke presenting his findings to the rest of the council including the Mayor. It was decided that the following city council meeting would result in a city ordinance to limit the closing hours of all drive ins.
Fearing that their restaurants would be affected by the behavior of one business, the next meeting was heavily attended by local drive in owners. The owners proposed a set of rules that they would personally enforce (without the need for a city ordinance). The city agreed, and on September 30th, 1964 the "Code of Conduct" was adopted by all drive in restaurants located in the city of Downers Grove. While the new rules were suitable to both the city and the owners, it still took 3 or 4 weeks for the patrons to realize the rules were going to be seriously enforced. Those first few weeks resulted in numerous arrests for "peeling, speeding, reckless driving, loud mufflers, etc.".
Below are those 12 rules.
1) Prohibit any continuous looping or circling of our parking lots.
2) Not permit patrons to congregate outside their cars.
3) Not serve teenagers under the age of 18 after curfew hours. 11:00 pm Sunday through Thursday 12:00 am Friday and Saturday.
4) Have cars left unattended towed away at car owner's expense.
5) Request that patrons enter and leave the premises as quietly as possible. Racking of pipes, peeling of tires and unnecessary use of horn will be prohibited.
6) Cooperate fully with police on duty at our establishments, whether hired by us or on city duty.
7) Prescribe a reasonable time limit for eating for the purpose of discouraging loitering.
8) Prohibit alcohol on the premises anywhere and at any time.
9) Prohibit cars to exceed 10 mph on the premises.
10) Make every effort to avoid the scattering of refuse onto other people's premises, and will police our own lots and neighboring grounds to control littering.
11) Make every effort to obtain license numbers of patrons who have caused problems to the public as well as to the operator.
12) Ask disorderly groups to leave the premises.
We hope you enjoyed this look back at the rowdy side of drive in history!
Jeff & Kelly