Sept. 22: Milford Drive-In Theater, Milford NH

It’s Day 265 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. With lots of twisty highways, it took an hour and a half to drive from Laconia NH to the Milford Drive-In Theater, in Milford NH of course.

According to its About Us page, the Milford Drive-In was built in 1958 and owned by “a local group of people. Several area contractors contributed labor and materials during construction hoping for a share of future profits.” The New Hampshire Union Leader wrote that Bob Goodrich built the Milford and owned it until he died in 1969. Then again, Sidney Goodridge’s 2014 obituary says that he was “the original owner and builder of the Milford”.

At any rate, the drive-in had a single 84 foot wooden frame screen when it opened. During the 1960’s the drive-in was leased to and managed by another couple. In 1969, Bob and Fay Scharmett purchased the Milford, and the Scharmetts have operated it continuously since then, except for three years during the 1970’s when the business was leased to Fall River Theater Corporation.

In 1984, the drive-in became a twin when additional acreage was cleared and a second screen was added. A second floor was constructed above the original building to provide room for a new projection room.

The Milford has been a leader in drive-in modernization. The Scharmetts replaced the original screen with a new steel screen, built a new marquee and box office, and was the first drive-in in New Hampshire to provide both AM and FM radio sound. In 2012, it was one of the first drive-ins to convert to digital projection. Barry Scharmett, who ran the theater with brother Steven at the time, told the Union Leader. “Everybody has a choice: Switch to digital this year, or next year. That’s it, because all of the companies we deal with are not going to be making film anymore.”

There’s another advance that I haven’t seen elsewhere – a track for radio-controlled toy vehicles, available to rent. That’s another great way to keep the kids busy and make enough to cover any extra expense.

The YouTube video of the day is one of a daily video series by Keller. The aerial views are terrific, though I can’t agree that “there were thousands more drive-ins in the 1960s” equates to “drive-ins aren’t making a comeback.”

With two active screens, the Milford gave me a choice on this Friday night, so I went with the new release. With a bucket of popcorn and a hot fudge sundae, I was ready to enjoy the show.

Miles Today / Total: 75 / 31107 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Lego Ninjago Movie / 167

Nearby Restaurant: For something different, I tried the Russian cuisine at My Sister’s Kitchen for lunch. The potato pierogis were amazing, and I passed the crepes (are those Russian?) in favor of the bread pudding. It’s so rare to find good bread pudding, and this made me happy I stopped by.

Where I Virtually Stayed: Google Maps said that the closest hotel to the Milford was the Hampton Inn in Nashua. Since TripAdvisor users voted it the best hotel in Nashua, and since I enjoy the predictable niceness of Hamptons, that’s where I stayed. There were cookies waiting for me at check-in. My room had the full set of modern amenities. And the breakfast was the standard, very nice Hampton spread.

Only in Milford: A piece of Milford is on US currency. According to Wikipedia, it was once home to numerous granite quarries, which produced a stone that was used, among other things, to make the pillars for the U.S. Treasury in Washington DC, as seen on the back of the $10 bill. Also, the downtown Milford Oval (live cam here), officially designated Union Square, is neither square nor oval in shape but triangular.

Next stop: Hathaway’s Drive-In Theatre, North Hoosick NY.