Mar. 20: Swingin’ Midway Drive In, Athens TN

It’s Day 79 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took two and a half hours of driving through a couple of magnificent national forests to go from Tiger GA to the Swingin’ Midway Drive In about halfway between Etowah and Athens TN.

A 2012 article in the Chicago Daily Herald included a few quotes from Thomas Epps, who was then using a used, leased digital projector and trying to sell the Swingin’ Midway. Fortunately, by the time The Daily Post-Athenian checked in just a few months later, Epps had converted to “all-new” projection equipment.

The Post-Athenian article says the Midway Drive-In opened in 1960, and Epps took it over in 1978. My reference books didn’t notice until after 1969. (One of these days I need to write a post about such drive-ins that weren’t counted during the industry’s peak years. I think there were even more active theaters than most sources mention. But I digress.) When did the Midway add Swingin’? My references still call it the Midway as late as 1987, but news accounts from the current millennium always include Swingin’.

Alas, the Swingin’ Midway won’t open for the season until April 7. After getting to watch movies two nights in a row, this might be the start of another week of dark screens.

Miles Today / Total:  117 / 9553 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 43

Nearby Restaurant: I like a good chicken tortilla soup, and Don Armandos had me covered. That was the start of a fine lunch of authentic-tasting Tex-Mex served with large mugs of cold beer. Just one mug for me; I was still driving.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I didn’t care how much it cost (which was a good thing), but I had spent too many nights without a Hampton Inn, such as the place clinging to the interstate here. I’ve never had a bad Hampton experience, and this was another of the good ones. Solid wifi, a nice variety of choices at breakfast, and all the familiar Hampton signs and accoutrements. Ahh!

Only in Athens: The Mayfield Dairy Farm in Athens provides a nice one-hour tour to show how milk gets processed. What makes the place memorable are the cow-masked mascot and the cow statues, including a 14-foot high cow by its sign outside.

Next Stop: Parkway Drive-In Theatre, Maryville TN.

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