It’s Day 262 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. From a far suburb of Portland to a near suburb of Portland, it was just 45 minutes’ drive from the Bridgton Twin Drive-In, in Bridgton ME of course, to Prides Corner Drive-In in Westbrook.
John Tevanian, who bought the Bridgton in 1971, built the Pride’s Corner in 1952, opening it in May 1953. (The grand opening newspaper ad had an apostrophe, but the marquee doesn’t and most subsequent references don’t have it either.) Tevanian was a teacher for 35 years with the Portland school system and according to his obituary, operated the drive-in as a great summer job. He passed away just this past July at the age of 91.
There must have been ups and downs during John’s half-century-plus at the Prides Corner, but I can’t find anything about them. Instead, the story picks up after the 2015 season, when the drive-in still didn’t have a digital projector. In 2016, it just didn’t open.
In the “Summerguide” 2016 issue of Portland Monthly, the author begins his article, “When I meet up with the owner of Pride’s Corner Drive-in, 47-year-old Andrew Tevanian, he’s dressed as a World War II medic.” Andrew is one of John’s sons, and he told the Monthly about his failed GoFundMe campaign and plans to start an IndieGoGo to raise the money for the equipment. The author wrote, “I ask Andrew if he knows when, if at all, he will open the drive-in this year. He shrugs his shoulders.”
That was presumably followed by a June 12, 2016 article in the Portland Press Herald in which John’s wife Thelma Tevanian said the business was going through a “family restructuring” and would reopen eventually. She also said that she and her husband were telling Prides Corner fans to ignore any fundraisers.
The Press Herald wrote that John and Thelma were behind the May 28, 2016 post on the drive-in’s Facebook page. It said in part, “We are in the process of setting a path for the future. None of our decisions are dependent on fundraising or solicitations of any kind. This is in direct opposition to our fundamental beliefs and no one has the ability to act on our behalf.”
Then there was big news just a few months ago. The Forecaster of Falmouth ME wrote in July 2017, “Jeff Tevanian, the drive-in manager and son of owners John and Thelma Tevanian, said the theater should be open by Aug. 4, possibly as early as July 28. … (Jeff) grew up in the business, but said this will be the first time he operates a drive-in by himself. He helped manage it for a few years in the early 2000s, but his brother Andrew had been the manager until 2015.” The soft opening was Aug. 18, and the drive-in hopes for a full grand opening next spring.
Perhaps making up for lost time, the Prides Corner is still showing movies on Fridays through Sundays. But not Tuesdays, leaving me with another weeknight away from the drive-in.
Miles Today / Total: 30 / 30945 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 166
Nearby Restaurant: For a bit of adventure, I had dinner at Phoever Maine, a Vietnamese restaurant. Spring roll appetizers set up the Pho Chin beef noodle bowl, and it all went well with beer from Portland’s Allagash Brewing Company.
Where I Virtually Stayed: Westbrook borders Portland, so the Super 8 in Westbrook is across Riverside Street from the Ramada Plaza in Portland, and the Ramada is closer to the drive-in, so that’s where I went. My room had neither a fridge nor a microwave, but at least there was wifi. There was an on-site restaurant for breakfast, which was really nice, just not included.
Westbrook Portland: Roadside America reports that according to its founder and curator, the International Cryptozoology Museum is the only one of its kind in the world. Cryptozoology is the study of unknown or mysterious animals, including monsters. The capper is an eight-foot-tall Bigfoot, built by a Wisconsin taxidermist.
Next stop: The Saco Drive In, Saco ME.