Apr. 11: 66 Drive-In Theatre, Carthage MO

66 Drive-In marquee and screen

photo by Mark Goebel via Flickr

It’s Day 101 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. Thanks to I-44, it less than an hour to drive from the Sunset Drive-In Theatre in Aurora to the 66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage.

The 66 was the 66 before Route 66 was cool. It opened in 1949 with a capacity for 500 cars. It was one of two in little Carthage, but the Sunset, which opened about the same time, closed before 1982. The 66 survived until 1985, when it too closed for over a decade.

The 66 was in the news just last month. The Carthage News had the first and probably best story about the McDonald family buying the place from the Goodmans, who brought it back to life in 1997.

The 66 is only open Friday through Sunday at this time of year, so I fell a little further behind in my quest for 200 movie nights in 2017.

Miles Today / Total:  49 / 11033 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 47

Nearby Restaurant: This is going to be my last stop on Route 66 for at least a while, so I wanted to embrace it while I could. In downtown Carthage is a little coffee and eclectic lunch stop called Mother Road Coffee. It’s got what you’d expect – expertly made coffee drinks and lots of Route 66 memorabilia. Everyone told me I had to grab the daily special for lunch, which happens to be their only lunch entree. For this Tuesday afternoon pick-me-up, I got to try the amazing tuna melt. Yum!

Where I Virtually Stayed: One last touch of Route 66 history is where I stayed, the Boots Court Motel. It had been around for 10 years when the drive-in was built, and it’s got its own Wikipedia page. It has been wonderfully restored to its old-fashioned glory, complete with covered parking and lawn chairs. My room was clean and comfortable, the bathroom was small, and wifi just wasn’t an option. A superb retro sendoff to my 66 experience for a while.

Only in Carthage: Marlin Perkins, the host of the old TV nature show Wild Kingdom, was born in Carthage, and there’s a larger-than-life bronze statue of him in Central Park.

Next stop: Barco Drive-In Theatre, Lamar MO.

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