Nov. 11: Badin Road Drive-In Theater, Albemarle NC

It’s Day 315 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. To continue my North Carolina weekend, I drove a little less than two hours from the Eden Drive-In in Eden of course to the Badin Road Drive-In Theater in Albemarle. They’re both owned by the same family.

Thanks to a 2006 article in The Stanley News and Press, I’ve got an unusually good handle on the early history of the Badin Road. At the time of the article, Roy Speights still lived across the street from the drive-in and could pinpoint when it opened. “We moved in our house June 1948,” Speights said. “I remember they were grading for the parking then. The theater must have opened later that summer or fall.”

The first Theatre Catalog drive-in list, in the 1948-49 edition, listed one drive-in in Albemarle as simply “Drive-In.” The 1949-56 Theatre Catalogs had two drive-ins in Albemarle, the Badin Road and the Albemarle, both owned by G. L. Faw. The News and Press article elaborated that was Gilbert Faw, who ran them with his son Raymond for a while.  Ethel Faw, Raymond’s wife, said “Raymond ran the theater until 1966, then he leased it out.” And then it closed for “a few years.”

Mrs. Faw was able to lease the Badin Road again in 1994 to Martin Murray. Then in 2002, David and Judy Robinson bought the drive-in. (They already owned the Eden Drive-In, the place I visited the night before.) The Robinsons added a second screen, and business appears to have been great ever since.

“The drive-in will never fade away,” Robinson told the News and Press. “I used to think it was just a fad when I first bought a drive-in, but my wife said it would last.”

David Robinson passed away this January, but the Badin Road endures.

This night, I took a break from Thor to watch a movie I hadn’t seen before. I’d heard that Daddy’s Home 2 was pretty bad, and those reviews were accurate but at least it was something different.

The embedded video of the day is a 2015 report from The News & Observer of Raleigh, featuring some enthusiastic announcements from Robinson. There’s also a nice long view of a typical trip to the Badin Road on YouTube.

Miles Today / Total: 103 / 35502 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Daddy’s Home 2 / 190

Nearby Restaurant: On a cool, sunny day, it was time for some barbecue, specifically Log Cabin BBQ. It’s a quiet little place with a nice homey atmosphere. I enjoyed a plate of pulled pork with hush puppies, baked beans, fries and iced tea. Yum!

Where I Virtually Stayed: After the movie, I returned to the Best Western Albemarle Inn. It’s not one of those shiny new hotels, but there were warm cookies waiting at check-in and my room was clean and comfortable, with all the modern amenities. The free breakfast had meat and eggs as well as the continental regulars. And it was all at the lowest price I’d paid all week.

Only in Albemarle: This is the time of year for the Get Lost Corn Maze a few miles west of Albemarle. It’s a locally-owned and –operated family agri-tourism business. “We are in our 11th season this year and we have crafted over 4 miles of paths in over ten acres of corn. … We have two Corn Pits – one for the younger kids and one for the older kids! … We can’t forget about the Gigantic Jumpy Pillow and, of course, the ZORB BALLS.”

Next stop: Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre, Henderson NC.