April 7: Starlite Drive-In Theatre, Cadet MO

Starlite Drive-in marquee

photo by Darren Snow, from the Carload Flickr pool

It’s Day 97 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I took the shortest route along twisty state highways, and it took just over an hour to drive from the 19 Drive-In in Cuba MO to the Starlite Drive-In Theatre west of Cadet.

According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Starlite opened in 1952. Sixteen years later, Terry Mercille bought the place from Henry and Dorothy Blunt. By 1984, it had added a second screen, and in 2009, Mercille’s sons inherited the business. According to Cinema Treasures, the Starlite may have closed for a season around then. It reopened by 2010, and won one of the coveted digital projection systems during Honda’s Project Drive-In in 2014.

I was so happy to have two active screens to choose from, both of which were showing movies I hadn’t seen yet. I hadn’t even noticed that another Smurfs movie had come out, so I took the one-week-older choice of The Boss Baby. And I finally returned to a working concession stand, home of funnel cake stix, corn dogs, and other upright munchies.

Miles Today / Total:  50 / 10696 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Boss Baby / 47

Nearby Restaurant: The Starlite is remote, and the closest restaurants and just south in Potosi. The Bearfoot Cafe serves huge portions at low prices. Anyplace with a good rainbow trout meal will get me in a good mood.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There are a fair number of Super 8s in these small towns, and I stayed at the one in Potosi. (There’s another in Bonne Terre, in case you’re attracted to the mine in the next paragraph.) This one was middle-of-the-road Super 8, with coffee in the lobby, a mini-fridge in the room, and a decent breakfast in the morning.

Only in Cadet: About 15 miles east of the Starlite is the Bonne Terre Mine, a monument to creative reuse. Some folks might have seen it as an abandoned lead mine that had mostly flooded with natural groundwater. At least one imaginative soul saw it as an underground “billion gallon lake” with clear water, perfect for scuba divers. There are also boat and walking tours of the old mine.

Next stop: Twenty One Drive In, Van Buren MO.