Missouri drive-in reopening after 39 years

Refurbishment is well underway from the looks of this screen capture from a video on the Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In’s Facebook page.

Here’s more great news about the resuscitation of another long-dead drive-in. This time it’s the old Montgomery Drive-In in southeast Missouri. It closed after the 1981 season, but work is underway to reopen it this October as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In.

The new/old drive-in is about five miles due west of the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. News reports call the community Blomeyer, an unincorporated area of Cape Girardeau County. The business sharing the site today gets its mail from the city of Chaffee, which is where the old drive-in lists placed it. Enough about that.

The original Montgomery held its grand opening on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1955, the same day Home of the Stars Drive-In also opened in Chaffee. That competitor closed in less than a decade. The Montgomery, owned first by Bernice Montgomery, had to rebuild its screen after a storm blew down the original redwood version in 1965. The new screen was made of steel-reinforced concrete. Clearly, it was built right.

That sturdy concrete screen is the focal point of Rock-in-Roll Drive-In co-owners Chuck Stratton and Jonny Tosarello. They’re working to clear the viewing field and clean the foliage off the screen, as they described to KFVS, Cape Girardeau’s News Leader. (That link includes a video. Wish I could have embedded it for you.)

Stratton told the SE Missouri State student newspaper, the Arrow, that he plans to charge by the Carload. Food trucks and a concession stand will provide the dining experience.

Tosarello said they were adding a new wrinkle. “We’re going to put effect lighting in all the trees and speakers in all the trees, and we’re going to time load those to the movies. So, when you’re watching a movie, something explodes, all the trees will turn red.” Let’s hope someone captures a video of that.

Admiral Twin hosts cat videos

Spaced-out image from the Philbrook Museum of Art web site

On Thursday night, Sept. 17, Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art will hold its annual Internet Cat Video Festival. Instead of showing the videos on the Philbrook’s lawn, they’ve moved the festival to a place we care about, the Admiral Twin Drive-In.

The Tulsa World reported that the Internet Cat Video Festival was co-created by Philbrook Executive Director Scott Stulen when he with the Walker Arts Center of Minneapolis. The Philbrook event page described it as a “notorious offline celebration of online cats, (with) the best cat videos the internet has to offer. First time ever at a drive-in!”

I like cat videos and I love drive-ins. This sounds like the best of both. If you’re in the neighborhood, you really should check it out!

Video: Ceres CA Reopens

Here’s some good news, sort of. The Ceres (CA) Drive-In, which had closed in 2008, will reopen soon thanks to the drive-in demand surge from the pandemic.

The Modesto Bee reported that Ripon resident Mark Stotzer has leased the old Ceres site, which still has one of its two old screens standing. “I had been looking at alternate sites to put something together,” the promoter told the Bee, “and then remembered there used to be a drive-in in Ceres.”

The old drive-in site has a lot of advantages over most of the pop-ups that have sprouted this year. It still has ramps, probably there when it opened in 1948. Its 100-foot screen in 40 feet off the ground, allowing more cars to see it clearly. And then there’s the name, which still resonates with some of the locals.

Although this is good news, I still feel awkward talking about it. Will this reborn Ceres remain in operation in a post-Covid world? (Will there be a post-Covid world?) For now, I’ll hold off on adding it to the Carload active drive-in list, but I always appreciate the opportunity to share a bit of video and hope with you. Enjoy!