June 29: Melody Drive In Theater, Knox IN

It’s Day 180 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. This was an easy drive down straight highways, less than an hour from the 49er Drive-in Theatre north of Valparaiso IN to the Melody Drive In Theater south of Knox.

In the YouTube video I embedded above, owner Fred Heise says he has owned the Melody since 1970, “bought it from my father that year.” That video was uploaded in 2010, but Heise’s comments indicate that it was shot in 2006. A short note from WKVI FM about Opening Day this year confirms that Heise is still around.

The South Bend Tribune wrote in a 2013 article that the Melody opened in 1949. Heise and his son, Fred Heise II, told the Tribune about the switch to digital projection. “They’d have run for another 50 years, if you took care of them,” the elder Heise said of the old projectors. “Hopefully this (new) stuff will last 10 to 20 years without a problem, but we don’t know.” His son agreed: “That’s our major concern here. This isn’t a $1,100 computer, it’s a $60,000 one. … We don’t know how long they’re gonna last.”

A different problem hit earlier in 2013, when a storm blew down one of its two screens. As WNDU noted later, the Melody ran on one screen for just a short time before they could fix the second.

I was so glad that the Melody managed to get Despicable Me 3 on the Thursday night before it opens across the country. It gave me a break from all those viewings of Cars 3, but now I’m wondering how many times I’ll watch DM3 over the next coupld of weeks.

Miles Today / Total:  43 / 22837 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Despicable Me 3 / 96

Nearby Restaurant: In between towns, on South Toto Road, is an unusual place called Richard’s of Toto. It’s got a giant fiberglass Indian, a discount store, and most relevant to us, The Toto Cafe. I enjoyed the Thursday meatloaf special with mashed potatoes and gravy. It felt just a little odd to find such a large restaurant in the middle of miles of farmland.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There is a hotel in town, but 71% of TripAdvisor reviewers rated it Terrible, so I looked elsewhere. I knew the next leg of my odyssey would be due west, so I took the safest choice – a place I already knew. I caught the Comfort Suites in Rensselaer during its first month of operations in July 2016, and it was still just as fresh and good a year later. My room had a fridge and good wifi, breakfast was a little better than standard Comfort fare, and the price was great.

Only in Knox: The first episode of the PBS children’s series Postcards from Buster was filmed at a farm near Knox. Buster learns about the farm kids’ chores including feeding the cows, taking out the garbage, cleaning the house. He also learns that some of the chores include riding horses, driving forklift tractors and showing their pigs off when the County Fair is in town.

Next stop: Route 34 Drive In Theatre, Earlville IL.