It’s Day 320 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. Thanks to the miracle of I-79, it took me less than two hours to drive from the Sunset Drive-In Theater just south of Shinnston WV to the Dependable Drive-In in Moon PA.
The single-screen Dependable opened in late June 1950, then was heavily damaged by a flood a week later. It was reportedly owned by three couples, the Hofackers, the Marcuses, and the Springers. (Although a 1951 newspaper report called Howard Benson the owner, I’m guessing he was the manager.) In April 1952, Robert J. Springer sued the other two couples for leasing the drive-in to Ernest Stern in June 1951. Springer was still around in 1955, so I guess that worked out somehow.
The Pittsburgh City Paper wrote that Rick Glaus had “run the Dependable since 1968”. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote in 2010 that “Glaus, 56, … operates the drive-in with his son, Jonathan. The Glaus family bought the Dependable in the late 1960s from original owner Pat Springer.”
Sure enough, a March 1974 article about concerned neighbors identified Rick Glaus as the manager. “Let’s face it – X-rated films are the only thing that saves us,” he told The Pittsburgh Press. If all these newspapers are right, Glaus would have been about 20 at the time and 14(!) when he started running the Dependable. That can’t be right, can it?
Cinema Treasures says the Dependable added a second screen in 1995, a third in 1997, and a fourth in 2003.
It appears that Jonathan became known as Jay, because a 2012 article in The Pitt News said that Jay Glaus was the 19-year-old manager at that point. “We try to keep it modern but nostalgic at the same time, which is a challenge because you want to make everything modern, and you want to bring everything up to contemporary stuff. But you have to remember you’re running a drive-in,” he said. “You’re not running an indoor movie theater.”
The last I saw, Rick still owns the Dependable and Jay still runs it as general manager. The great thing about it now is that it’s open year-round, giving me a chance to get a little closer to my goal of 200 active drive-in nights this year. It was cold and rainy, but I got the chance to see a special Thursday night premiere of Justice League.
The embedded video of the day comes from WPXI, Pittsburgh’s News Leader. It tells of the generosity of Dependable patrons after one jerk stole from a donation box.
Miles Today / Total: 114 / 36249 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Justice League / 191
Nearby Restaurant: For a fine, inexpensive lunch, I headed over to the Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe, part of a regional restaurant chain. Fresh-cut French fries and hot dogs with a special chili sauce were all I really needed to get me from breakfast to dinner. Did I also have one of their Oreo and peanut butter milkshakes? I’m not telling.
Where I Virtually Stayed: When you’re across the highway from a major airport, you know that hotels can’t be far away. One of those was a Hampton Inn, and if you’ve been reading these virtual visits, you know the rest. This one had a manager’s reception with free beer in the lobby, so that’s a point in its favor. My comfy room had all the modern amenities, and the breakfast was the good Hampton standard.
Only in Moon: Just across I-376 from the Dependable, the Pittsburgh International Airport is home to a 20-foot robot sculpture that appears to be made of bridges. As described in Geek Pittsburgh, “Arch” was built to last only six months as part of Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary, but it was so admired that it was restored to a more permanent state and replaced inside the airport in June 2013.
Next stop: Family Drive-In Theatre, Stephens City VA.