It’s Day 105 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I had planned to go east to west within the Kansas City area from the Twin to the I-70 to the Boulevard, but then I noticed that the I-70 shows movies on Sundays this time of year but the Boulevard doesn’t. So I drove the 30 minutes of urban streets from the Twin to the Boulevard just over the Kansas border at the far south edge of KCK.
The Boulevard’s grand opening ad in June 1950 announced, “No longer do you have to drive to a drive-in! You can walk, take a bus or street car, or drive to the truly new drive-in!” To me that sounds like they were still working out the business model, but I’m intrigued at the thought that someone once took a streetcar to a drive-in. The ad claims room for 1000 cars, but reference works at the time suggested 750 or 800, and Cinema Treasures now says it’s 600. That’s still a lot for one relatively narrow viewing field.
My favorite memory of the Boulevard was during its lean times. In 1985 I watched Brewster’s Millions while I had a portable TV in my car showing Siskel and Ebert’s review of Brewster’s Millions. The third movie of that night was announced as “not for the kids.” They don’t show those kind of movies at the Boulevard any more. My most recent memory was in 2012 for Men in Black 3, and the place was packed with happy families, just like most drive-ins these days.
With just one screen, the Boulevard offers only one choice, so I watched The Fate of the Furious for the second straight evening. But here they serve beer, which makes movies and most other things in life just a little better. When consumed early and in moderation, of course.
Miles Today / Total: 17 / 11435 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Fate of the Furious / 50
Nearby Restaurant: The closest restaurant, just a little west of the drive-in down Merriam Lane, is Tacos El Matador. It’s actually quite good. The place doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the authentic Mexican-style tacos make me glad I stopped by.
Where I Virtually Stayed: I was back to a Holiday Inn Express, this time by the University of Kansas Medical Center a couple of miles east of the Boulevard. It’s within a stone’s throw of the Missouri border and the Westport area, where I lived for a couple of years. I had a fridge in the room and bacon for breakfast, and what could be better than that?
Only in Kansas City: Take a standard old-style diner and add model trains and you get Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant. Diners use their table-mounted telephone to call in their orders, which are delivered by model train, lowered from the overhead tracks. The food’s okay, but the trains are the reason to go out of your way to visit.
Next stop: I-70 Drive-In, Kansas City MO.