Dec. 29: Midway Drive-In Theater, Mifflintown PA

It’s Day 363 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. Despite the threat of snow and the reality of single-digit temperatures, it took me less than an hour and a half to drive from the Sky-Vu Drive-In Theatre in Gratz PA to the Midway Drive-In Theater in Mifflintown PA.

I’m almost at the end of this odyssey, and I can’t recall a drive-in where I’ve had less information than the Midway. Even Google doesn’t have Street View imagery from its street, the William Penn Highway, State Route 3002, which was probably US 22 / 322 when the drive-in was built. It sits between Lewistown and Mifflintown on the bank of the Juniata River.

The one thing I know for sure is the Midway’s Grand Opening. As recounted by the Juniata County Historical Society, Irvin and Doris Berney opened the Midway on May 17, 1950, a date verified with a Grand Opening ad in The Daily News of Huntingdon. (It also ran a “Grand Opening” ad on April 3, 1952 in the Newport News-Sun, but that must have been either just a season opener or an attempt to draw a new audience.)

After that, it’s mostly hints and hearsay. The Berneys were listed as the owners in the Theatre Catalogs through at least 1956. But the International Motion Picture Almanacs has its first owner listing in 1952 as William Humphreys and kept that name through 1961. I couldn’t find anything else about Humphreys.

By the 1963 edition, the IMPA had changed the Midway’s owner to Frank Royer, who with Joseph Favuzza eventually owned several drive-ins in the region. Royer’s name stayed on through the final IMPA list in 1988.

There’s an odd glimpse from August 1992, when the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the “Owners of the Midway Drive-In say their patrons were illegally searched by police, who charged 75 people with underage drinking.” Part-owner Joseph Favuzza was considering a lawsuit. “What we’re trying to do is right a wrong,” said his son, Jeff Favuzza, the drive-in’s manager. The story also got picked up by the Associated Press.

The Favuzzas incorporated the drive-in in 1995, and Jeff Favuzza is the current administrator of the drive-in’s web domain. Cinema Treasures says the Midway has upgraded to digital projection, as evidenced by the current movies it continues to show.

And that is all that I’ve got on the Midway. The drive-in has a very interesting marquee, as better shown in a photo on Adventure Pilot‘s report, and it’s within walking distance of a small airport. And it’s closed for the season. Sure looks like an interesting place to visit next summer.

Miles Today / Total: 59 / 40093 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 200

Nearby Restaurant: I love finding retro-themed diners during these drive-in days, and that’s what I found in Harshbarger’s Sub ‘N Malt. I had a John Wayne burger with Swiss cheese, barbecue sauce, and topped with an onion ring. On the side, I tried the buffalo chicken fries with bleu cheese drizzled on top, plus a homemade milkshake. Was this the day I was supposed to eat a salad instead?

Where I Virtually Stayed: There’s not a lot to choose from in Mifflintown. The Econo Lodge doesn’t tend to be my style of hotel, but it was close by and inexpensive. My clean, comfortable room actually had all the modern amenities. There was coffee available at check-in and in the morning in lieu of breakfast. With a truck stop just across the parking lot, there was no trouble finding something good to eat.

Only in Mifflintown: In the other Midway town of Lewistown, there’s a stone from Abraham Lincoln’s tomb embedded in the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument, built in 1906 to honor Civil War vets. According to Roadside America, the request for the stone (made at the time Lincoln’s tomb was being remodeled) was honored because The Logan Guard, Mifflin County’s volunteer soldiers, were the first to answer President Lincoln’s call for troops at the start of the Civil War.

Next stop: Cumberland Drive-In Theatre, Newville PA.