July 23: Huntington Twin Drive-In, Huntington IN

It’s Day 204 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It only took an hour and a half on a quiet Sunday to drive from the Hummel Drive-In east of Winchester IN to the Huntington Twin Drive-In in Huntington IN.

The Huntington opened in 1950. The 1952 Theatre Catalog said its owner was Gail Lancaster, a man reported to have “two grand pianos in his living room”. According to Huntington County Farmers and Families, Lancaster also managed the Huntington Theater. By 1963, the owner was listed as Maurice Robbins. (There was a Maurice Robbins who was mayor of Huntington in 1980. Wonder if it was the same guy.) Later sources suggest that a group owned the Huntington.

By early 2001, the Huntington was owned by Syndicate Theatres and managed by Dave and Peggy Brooks. In August 2001, they sold it to John and Anilda Detzler, who soon began making renovations. In March 2005, most of the screen tower blew down, but the Detzlers rebuilt in time for a Memorial Day Weekend opening. They also added a second screen for the 2011 season.

In July 2013, the Detzlers put the Huntington up for sale. I didn’t see the digital projection issue mentioned then, but it had to be a factor. “There are two major reasons: I’m 61 and my wife is 68, and we’ve tried to do most everything ourselves, including the long, late hours,” Detzler told The Journal Gazette. “Our primary plan, dream and goal has always been to relocate (to Colorado) permanently.”

That’s when Bob Goodrich, owner of the Goodrich Quality Theaters chain came in. He agreed to buy the Huntington in December 2014 and closed on it the following April, at a signing apparently witnessed by WANE, Fort Wayne’s News Leader, in a report that’s now on YouTube. Goodrich installed digital projectors, added a credit card system, and generally made the place better than new. The YouTube drone video embedded above shows how nice it looked late last year.

I was a little surprised to see the serious movie Dunkirk leading off one of the two screens here. I don’t know whether I’ll get another chance to see this, so I was happy to get another break from animation and comic book heroes. I’ll have plenty of time to catch up with them in the nights to come.

Miles Today / Total:  78 / 25756 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Dunkirk / 120

Nearby Restaurant: When I’m on the road, all I really need for a meal is a good old fashioned diner such as Johnny’s. (Think greasy spoon, minus the greasy.) I brought cash to pay, and my reward was pancakes, sausage, coffee and homemade pie at a very reasonable price.

Where I Virtually Stayed: It’s nice to be back in a town with lodging choices, and the hotel I chose this time was the Comfort Inn. It felt freshly renovated, and the breakfast was a notch above the already decent Comfort standard. And my clean, comfy room had the full set of amenities. Just a nice, solid experience.

Only in Huntington: This one’s a no-brainer. Huntington is the home to the Dan Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center. The converted Christian Science church is more than a monument to the hometown guy who famously argued the wrong side in a potato spelling debate, which he later called “a ‘defining moment’ of the worst imaginable kind.” It’s also about US vice presidents in general, “the unique and fascinating stories of each of those who have held the second most important office in our country.”

Next stop: Tibbs Drive-In, Indianapolis IN.

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