July 6: 13-24 Drive-In, Wabash IN

It’s Day 187 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took just a little over an hour to drive from Monticello IN to the 13-24 Drive-In, just northeast of Wabash.

According to a 2003 article at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Truman Rembusch built the 13-24, named for US 24 and state highway 13, in 1949. It probably opened in 1950. Truman and his son Mike Rembusch owned and operated the drive-in through the decades to that 2003 story.

The next big change came after a For Sale sign went up on the 13-24 marquee. As they put it on a local insurance and risk management firm’s blog, “When the movie theater was in jeopardy of closing its doors in 2011, INGUARD’s CEO, Parker Beauchamp joined forces with his wife Katie, parents and the Honeywell Foundation to keep movies reeling on the silver screen.”

Now INGUARD, a fine company with too many capital letters, sponsors free admission for all kids 12 and under, and the non-profit foundation runs the 13-24, complete with digital projection and other upgrades, thanks to Beauchamp’s charitable deep pockets. A PRNewsChannel release said that the reaction has been great. “It was so well-received and people were so floored, I think it almost has more Facebook likes than the entire Honeywell Foundation, which has been around since the 1940’s,” said Beauchamp. “It’s been really wild and humbling, and that just makes you feel good.”

In the 2016 YouTube video I found the embed above (from WIWU, Grant County’s News Leader), they’re celebrating the same occasion I got to experience this year. For Retro Reels Thursday, the 13-24 showed the original family-friendly extravaganza, The Wizard of Oz. It made me wonder whether that movie ever landed on any drive-in screens when it first came out. There were fewer than 20 drive-ins open in August 1939, but after watching it again, I can verify that it makes a fine drive-in movie.

Miles Today / Total:  58 / 23824 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Wizard of Oz / 103

Nearby Restaurant: In addition to the historic Eagles Theatre downtown and the 13-24 Drive-In, another touch of Wabash nostalgia is the B-K Root Beer stand, open seasonally since the mid-1940s. I enjoyed a classic Spanish dog, some cheese fries, and a root beer float in a glass mug. It’s not health food, but it makes a great warm-up for the drive-in.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I was back to the safe conformity of the Holiday Inn Express in Wabash. My clean, comfortable room had the full set of amenities, and the HIE breakfast might be the best of any of the chain hotels. Just another nice night to get me ready for the weekend.

Only in Wabash: On March 31, 1880, four 3,000-candle electric lamps were suspended from the top of the Wabash County courthouse. Two telegraph wires ran from the lamps to the courthouse basement, where they were connected to a threshing machine to provide power. As a result, says Wikipedia, Wabash is notable for claiming to be the first electrically lighted city in the world.

Next stop: Tri-Way Drive-In Theatre, Plymouth IN.