Aug. 2: Melody 49 Drive-In, Brookville OH

Drive-in screen during a magnificent sunset

Photo from the Melody 49 Facebook page

It’s Day 214 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I drove north from the Starlite Drive-In Theatre in Amelia OH, bypassed Dayton (for now), and pulled up at the Melody 49 Drive-In, a couple of miles northeast of Brookville. The leisurely drive took less than two hours.

According to Greater Dayton Drive-In Movie Theaters by Curt Dalton (available online here), the Melody 49 opened in July 1966 with space for 1,100 cars on its 18 acres. Back then, it cost half a million dollars to build, including a 75’ x 130’ Cinemiracle screen and electric car heaters for winter showings. It was owned by Chakeres Theaters, which has owned it ever since.

In 1982, the Melody 49 switched to an AM radio broadcast, and in 1998 it switched to FM. In between, it added a second screen in 1987 after salvaging a screen from Miami Township’s Southland 75 when it closed. The new drive-in’s name was the Melody 49 Twin.

The Melody 49 was the second all-medallion theater in Ohio, meaning that everything was electrically operated, including the heating and air-conditioning. Its three-lane snack bar was built to be capable of serving 2,000 patrons in 30 minutes. Automatic food warmers were installed to ensure that the snacks remained hot and delicious.

This drive-in was the lone survivor of a Chakeres Theaters drive-in shutdown wave early last year. The Melody Cruise-In in Springfiend Township, the Skyborn Cruise-In in Fairborn and the Wilmington Drive-In didn’t open for the 2016 season, as announced in a Facebook post reported by the Dayton Daily News. In a later article, Chakeres general manager Mark Booth said the issue was the costs of converting to digital projection and added that “no decisions have been made about whether the theaters will re-open (in 2017).” They didn’t. Good thing that the Melody 49 converted!

Thank goodness this drive-in has two screens, because one had The Emoji Movie on it. I chose whatever was on Screen 2, which turned out to be War for the Planet of the Apes again. Compared to the alternative, not that bad.

Miles Today / Total:  78 / 26417 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: War for the Planet of the Apes / 129

Nearby Restaurant: Sticking close to the drive-in, I found out about a good buffet in Brookville with the unassuming name of Rob’s Restaurant. It has a real menu too, and I was tempted by today’s special of stuffed chicken breast, but why stop there when there’s a whole buffet’s worth of fried chicken available? And homemade rolls, and desserts. And veggies too, because I need to eat healthy.

Where I Virtually Stayed: One of the closest hotels to the drive-in is the Hampton Inn in Englewood. I knew this place was good because I stayed here last year. It’s tucked out of the way, but not so hard to find once you’ve been here once. It offered the typical Hampton amenities, a short walk to several restaurants, and the nice Hampton breakfast. It’s so nice to get reacquainted with an old friend.

Only in Brookville Clayton: The Melody 49 is between Brookville and Clayton, where they have a local outpost of the Esther Price candy store. According to Roadside America, a few years ago Esther-Price painted a giant chocolate box lid in their parking lot. It used to be roped off but now anyone can walk right up and touch it. (I’d feel strange about parking on it.) You can even see it on Google Maps.

Next stop: Dixie Twin Drive-In, Dayton OH.