It’s Day 215 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It was just a 20-minute drive from the Melody 49 Drive-In, on the outskirts of Dayton OH to the Dixie Twin Drive-In on Dixie Drive in eastern Dayton.
According to Greater Dayton Drive-In Movie Theaters by Curt Dalton (available online here), Levin Theaters opened the Dixie in July 1957. Unlike most drive-ins, the Dixie put its kids’ playground behind the concession stand instead of in front of the screen. It was an economic use of the land, since the building obstructed the view for about eighty feet.
The Levin Family Foundation site tells the story of the Dixie’s owners’ brush with Hollywood. In 1964, brothers Sam, Al and Lou Levin decided to produce their own movie. The result was The Girls on the Beach, shot in two weeks for a budget of $50,000 and released by Paramount the following year.Sam and Al Levin both had minor roles in the film, playing beauty contest judges.
In 1967, the Dixie took the then-unusual step of opening on Sunday mornings for a flea market, called the Paris Flea Market, which has become a Dayton institution. The Dixie became a twin in 2002 after salvaging a screen from the Sherwood Twin Drive-In.
The Dixie switched to digital projection in 2014. It had failed to earn a free projector from Project Honda the year before, but according to a story at MostMetro.com, “the Dixie received tens of thousands of emails, comments, calls and posts in an unprecedented show of support,” which inspired management to shell out for two brand new projectors. That was probably the right call. Greg Dove, president of Levin Service Company, said in a 2016 article in the Dayton Daily News that attendance and revenue were up 30 percent since the digital system went in.
“The initial fear that we had, that people would just be watching their little devices at home, really hasn’t panned out,” Dove said. “And we’re quite happy that it hasn’t happened.”
Today’s video is from WDTN, Dayton’s News Leader. It’s a 2011 interview with Ryan Levin showing the then-new Dixie marquee and its remodeled concession stand.
Did I mention that I was here last year? After a long traffic jam of people driving to watch a movie, I just stuck my phone out the window and got a pretty interesting picture of the marquee.
Back to this night – thank goodness the Dixie has two screens, because one had The Emoji Movie on it. I chose whatever was on Screen 2, which turned out to be Atomic Blonde, a movie I hadn’t seen yet. It was the kind of action spy thriller, with occasional steaminess, that’s just right for a drive-in.
Miles Today / Total: 14 / 26431 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Atomic Blonde / 130
Nearby Restaurant: You know I love quirky regional chain restaurants, and Skyline Chili definitely qualifies on both counts. Most of its locations are in Ohio, so it’s regional, and until recently, you couldn’t buy a bowl of chili from them, so that’s quirky. Their signature dish is their signature chili over thin spaghetti, or as a chili dog condiment. Cheese and onions are optional.
Where I Virtually Stayed: I haven’t had many opportunities to stay in the same place for two nights, and the Hampton Inn in Englewood is just about 15 minutes away from the Dixie. That’s how long it took for me to get back to the room last year.
Only in Dayton: Just up the street on Dixie Drive, in Abby Mausoleum in Dayton Memorial Park, in the final resting place of Agnes Moorehead, a fine actress who performed in everything from Citizen Kane to Charlotte’s Web, but who was best known as Samantha’s mother Endora on the 60s TV series Bewitched.
Next stop: Bel-Air Drive-In Theatre, Versailles IN.