July 29: Starlite Drive-In Theatre, Bloomington IN

It’s Day 210 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It started with an easy one-hour drive from Franklin IN to the Starlite Drive-In Theatre south of Bloomington IN.

The Starlite opened in 1955, built by Carl and Ruth Stewart, who operated it for 48 years until Ruth passed away in 2003. According to his 95th birthday salute in 2014 in the Bloomington Herald-Times (subscription required), Carl “took pride in making the best popcorn and getting to know the families.”

The next owner was Cindy Jarvis and family. According to Indiana Public Media, “She wanted to have people think they were coming back to 1955 when they entered the drive-in, so it was her decision to not use the credit card machines.” Jarvis had to commute from out of town, and the Starlite’s had deteriorated a bit when it was sold in December 2013.

The next owner was a local guy, Mark Freeman, and his family. Indiana Public Media said he went right to work fixing panels on the screen, fixed the water and gas lines, added fresh gravel and made other cosmetic improvements. He added a fence to prevent patrons from walking in front of the projector, which inspired more work. “Once we did that,” Freeman said, “we started looking and said ‘Wow.” So we just made this patio here.” The patio, in front of the projection room, has tables and chairs.

Freeman also added credit card payments and a digital projector, which made it a little odd that he sold the Starlite this February. (I wrote about that when it happened.) Now the drive-in’s owner is the Brent Barnhart family and KJB Theaters. Barnhart told the Herald-Times, “I’m thrilled to take up the baton and run with it.”

Ah, it’s nice to have another drone video to share. This one’s was posted in June 2015 and is unusual that it’s audio is the real sound of the drone. I’ve been around enough of them to verify – they’re noisy little things.

I feel bad that my timing made me miss the Starlite’s many special shows – this coming Tuesday will be Forrest Gump, and Wednesday will be Enter the Dragon. But my wish from the night before went unanswered, and I sat through The Emoji Movie for the second straight evening. As I type two days after this movie’s release, IMDB voters have already pushed it to 22nd place of the worst of all time, six slots worse than Monster a-Go-Go and considerably worse than Battlefield Earth. Telling fact: Sir Patrick Stewart is the voice of Poop.

Miles Today / Total:  51 / 26123 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Emoji Movie / 125

Nearby Restaurant: How can you not love a place named Darn Good Soup? I mean, you know right away what you’re going to get, plus there’s homemade bread. I had the Cheesy Tomatillo followed by a scoop of chocolate lover’s ice cream. Simple and great!

Where I Virtually Stayed: The Hilton Garden Inn is a perennial favorite of mine whenever I find one, partly because my Hilton Honors status gets me free breakfast there. The HGI here is taller than most, six stories, and it has a parking garage. That’s all probably because Indiana University is so close by. My room had the full set of amenities, the staff was friendly, and the breakfast buffet was great.

Only in Bloomington: Indiana University in Bloomington features a 12,000-pound brain, “the largest anatomically accurate brain sculpture in the U.S.” near the entrance to its Psychology Building. In 2015, they made a good thing even better by adding an interactive lighting display which “will respond to movement and feature shifting colors and patterns, which will change with the seasons or to recognize special events, such as pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or crimson for IU sports victories.”

Next stop: Holiday Drive-In Theatre, Mitchell IN.

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