Sept. 16: Bangor Drive-In, Hermon ME

It’s Day 259 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I ended the Canadian portion of the trek this day, driving four hours from the Neptune Drive-In in Shediac New Brunswick to the Bangor Drive-In, built in Bangor but thanks to shifting boundaries, now just across the border in the town of Hermon ME.

Thanks to Steve Ginn’s wonderful YouTube history of the Bangor, I found almost all the details of the drive-in all in one place. The drive-in opened in June 1950 with a large single screen. Through the 1970s, it showed mostly mainstream movies with the occasional stag film night mixed in.

A storm blew down the original screen on Jan. 8, 1978. It was replaced that year by the two screens that survive today.

AM Radio sound was added before the 1985 season, which is odd because the Bangor abruptly closed on July 24, 1985. By noon on the 25th, every speaker had been removed. The eight-screen Bangor Mall Cinemas, owned by the same company as the drive-in, opened on the 26th.

The drive-in sat for almost 30 years, its grounds falling into disrepair but those recently built aluminum and steel screens holding up just fine. In 2015, Cinema Bangor LLC renovated and rebuilt the Bangor. The irony here is that the LLC also owned that same Bangor Mall Cinema. The company is fronted by partner Carol Epstein, whose father opened the drive-in in 1950.

The Bangor Daily News related Epstein’s excitement about the project. “[The drive-in] was a big piece of my childhood and I think for a lot of people it was a big piece of their childhood,” she said. Now everything is modern, including the digital projection of course, and the drive-in charges by the carload, which I prefer for some reason.

A special preview night was the occasion for the embedded YouTube video of the day. A radio morning crew visited, and I only hope they didn’t have to get up at 5 am or whatever the next day to work their shift.

How popular is the Stephen King movie It? (Well, his house is in Bangor.) On screen one, the Bangor is showing It followed by Annabelle: Creation. On screen two, the Bangor is showing It followed by The Hitman’s Bodyguard. With a choice like that, I watched It.

Miles Today / Total: 285 / 30762 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: It / 165

Nearby Restaurant: I’m glad I made it here in time for a late lunch at Friars’ Bakehouse. Run by the Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, they offer seemingly simple dishes that taste better than one would expect. My chicken pot pie was amazing, and their signature bread was worth buying extra to save for later.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The Comfort Inn in Bangor had everything I needed for my return to the USA. There were cheese, crackers, and cookies available as evening snacks. My room had a fridge and microwave; it never hurts to ask. And in the morning, the solid Comfort breakfast of waffles, meat, eggs and the continental regulars had me ready for a new day.

Only in Hermon Bangor: At Pickering Square, a pedestrian circle downtown, if you stand in the center and clap your hands, you’ll hear the echo as a squeak. The phenomenon has been reported by several sources, but no one knows exactly why it happens. If you want to try it, don’t go when it’s snowy (it doesn’t work then) but go soon; the city wants to modify the parking garage at one end and hopes it won’t change the acoustics.

Next stop: Skowhegan Drive-In, Skowhegan ME.