July 5: Lake Shore Drive In, Monticello IN

It’s Day 186 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. For the second straight day, it took 101 miles to drive from place to place. This time, the lack of interstates meant I was on the road a little more than two hours to get from Gibson City IL to the Lake Shore Drive In in Monticello IN.

The Lake Shore opened as the single-screen Monticello Drive-In in 1949, according to Cinema Treasures. At that point, or very soon after, it was owned by Al Taylor and Clifford Rickey, who were listed with it in the 1952 Theatre Catalog. In 1961, they sold the Monticello to Marc Brazee of Greenwood, and my references show Brazee running the place deep into the 1980s and possibly beyond.

From there, we pick up some Herald Journal accounts; all agree that Earle and Phyllis McLachlan bought the place in 2000 and added a second screen in 2003. An article from 2004 said that when McLachlan bought it, “the entire facility was in fading condition and bordering on the out-of-date. A major restructuring, which added a new sound system and just last year a second film screen, was necessary in order to bring the operation up to par.” I’m guess that’s when the name changed.

In a 2006 article, McLachlan said the Lake View was doing well despite Indiana joining Daylight Saving Time. In a 2014 article that misspelled his name, McLachlan was happy about his digital projection system and “the new screen,” suggesting that the main screen was replaced during the previous off-season. It looks newer now, and less nostalgic, than in the 2009 YouTube video embedded above.

Not only did I get the treat of a new, different movie, but a darned good one for drive-ins. Baby Driver has the action and car chases to keep anyone awake on any drowsy late evening in July.

Miles Today / Total:  101 / 23766 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Baby Driver / 102

Nearby Restaurant: The best dam catfish in town has the be at the Oakdale Dam Inn. In the converted mess hall of Oakdale Dam workers, filled with quirky decorations, I had to have the catfish dinner, since bottom feeders and dams just go together. Add in a full bar and lots of dessert options, and it was just a great place to visit and have a bite.

Where I Virtually Stayed: Since I gravitate to chains, I stayed at the Best Western Plus Brandywine Inn. I snagged a kitchenette suite with a hot tub and a king bed, a great combination to melt away stress from the road. Instead of a fitness room, there was a full fitness club with a racquetball court and steam room. Good wifi, good breakfast, it all make me glad I spent a little more on a greay place to stay.

Only in Monticello: The Indiana Beach Amusement and Water Park opened as a beach in 1926 and expanded to include roller coasters and other amusement park rides. Its ownership changed hands a couple of times over the past 10 years, but recent TripAdvisor reviews suggest that it’s a nice place to visit again.

Next stop: 13-24 Drive-In, Wabash IN.