Have you or would you go to a drive in movie?
Driving down the Belt Highway
last Sunday evening, I remembered when Technicolor stories were played
out on the night sky. Jack Palance, Charlton Heston and other A- and
B-movie stars were larger than life. Giant insects were even larger on
the 36-by-72-foot screens.
Families in station wagons with
greasy brown bags full of home-cooked popcorn, wild teenagers in the
backs of pickup beds and young couples in the back seat of Chevys with
steamed-up windows watched the good guys get the bad guys and the girl
in double features.
For close to 50 years, St. Joseph was a drive-in
movie town. On Friday and Saturday evenings just before dusk, cars lined
up on the Belt, waiting to get into the Belt and Skylark drive-ins. In
the South Side, cars waited for the trains to cross Alabama Street
before getting into the Cowtown Drive-In.
“Drive-ins were very busy; they would be full on the
weekends,” said Al Boos, the former manager who oversaw the Belt and
Skylark drive-ins, along with the Missouri, Electric and Orpheum
He remembered that Chuck Martin built the Belt
Drive-In in 1947, about where El Maguey Mexican Restaurant sits today.
Stanley Durwood built the Skylark Drive-In in 1948, near the property
where Hy-Vee and the Heartland Health Business Plaza sits. He bought the
Belt Drive-In a year later.
Mary Belle Miller and Beverly Miller, along with
Topeka, Kan., resident Joseph Stark, opened the Cowtown Drive-In in
1952. It sat where Barnard’s Auto Salvage is today.
Drive-ins were popular because they provided
affordable family entertainment. Many never charged for small children.
Some teens even got in free by hiding in the trunks of cars.
All of them had concession stands — small,
flat-roofed, concrete buildings where they sold hot dogs, popcorn, ice
cream and hamburgers. All this stuff was advertised in these weird
commercials they showed during intermission. Talking hot dogs, dancing
ice cream bars and leprechauns with treasure chests full of junk food
all tried to get your concession money. However, most folks just brought
their snacks from home.
The drive-in usually got the top-rated movies, right
after they played in the walk-in theaters. Eventually they started
showing more adult movies, which ran off the families.
What perhaps really brought about the demise of drive-ins was land development; drive-ins occupied prime retail business space.
In 1982, Crown Cinema Corp. had the Belt Drive-In
torn down. The Skylark was demolished soon after. For a time, the
Cowtown was a site for flea markets before it became a salvage yard.
Jay Kerner operated the Horseshoe Lake Drive-In in the early 2000s. It closed after a few years.
Just last August, the City Council granted a
conditional-use permit to Cooke Brothers Drive-In LLC to operate a
two-screen movie theater on U.S. Highway 169. It’s yet to open.
Mr. Boos said there are still a few drive-ins in Kansas City, but for the most part they’ve seen their heyday.
“I think with the entertainment today, with the
Internet, TV, cable and the cost of land, I don’t believe you’ll ever
see a drive-in theater built,” he said.
So They just built a new drive in movie near here and its 20 bucks a car load for 2 new movies. we take the lawn chairs n coolers n have a good time. they have had technical difficulties a couple of times but over all it was enjoyable.
this is the first ground up drive in built in the US. in many years . with many closing the past few years
I wonder if it will make it.
Do you go to drive in?
Would you go if you have never been?
Read More: http://cookebrothersdrivein.com/
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