Apr. 17: Midway Drive-In Theatre, Paola KS

It’s Day 107 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I left the I-70 Drive-In in Kansas City MO and drove just less than an hour southwest of the metro area to the Midway Drive-In Theatre, which is midway between Paola and Osawatomie KS.

The years have been rough on a lot of the Midway drive-ins. It was a common name (at least a half dozen just in North Carolina, for example) for a common situation. Drive-ins needed to be outside of town, so why not build one where it could draw from two potential audiences? That land in the middle of nowhere was typically the cheapest was just a bonus. Of the dozens of Midways that were ever built, only seven are still in operation today.

The Kansas Midway was built in 1952 or 1953 and holds fewer than 300 cars. It’s maybe a mile closer to Osawatomie, which is where all of my old reference books place it, but it claims a Paola address.

KCTV, Kansas City’s News Leader, ran an story about the Midway in 2013. At the time, farmer/owner Paul Dimoush was trying to find the money to buy a digital projector. He blamed his wife for getting into the drive-in business. “She said she got tired of watching corn grow and looking at cows so here we are,” he said with a laugh. Government leaders all over Miami County were working on the Midway fundraiser.

Somehow, it worked. The Midway upgraded to digital projection in 2014, so I’m confident that it’ll continue for the years that it’ll take to pay off that new equipment. But it’s definitely closed for the season now. It was pretty rainy outside anyway.

Miles Today / Total:  55 / 11502 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 51

Nearby Restaurant: I’m in love with the El Potro Mexican Cafe in Paola. I think it’s the margaritas, or maybe the chips and cheese. Great service, authentic Mexican food, and for me, a hot plate of pork carnitas tamales. Add the churros with chocolate and honey for dessert, and I didn’t think I would ever eat again. But there’s always room for another margarita.

Where I Virtually Stayed: If you’re going to stay the night in Paola, you’ll probably spend it at the Paola Inn. My room was clean, had a refrigerator, and the wifi was great. A nice hot breakfast in the morning had me ready to continue through Kansas.

Only in Paola Osawatomie: At the John Brown Museum, a large stone building contains the log cabin of Reverend Samuel Adair and his wife, Florella, who was the half-sister of the militant abolitionist. That cabin, which survived an earlier attack by a proslavery mob, is where Brown stayed while fighting the unofficial Bleeding Kansas war of the late 1850s. The cabin was dismantled and reassembled in 1912, and its surrounding stone pavilion was built in 1928.

Next stop: Starlite Drive-In Theatre, Wichita KS.

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