Since I posted a video of a dead drive-in a few days ago, you deserve to see a gorgeous living drive-in video. This one was posted by KSNF (Joplin MO’s News Leader) on YouTube earlier this year when Avengers: Endgame sold out the 66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage earlier in the evening.
The 66 is a beautiful drive-in by day, with manicured grass in its front yard framing its retro sign along old Route 66. It was the perfect choice for the cover photo of my new book, Drive-Ins of Route 66. I’m sad to say that when I took that picture, my schedule didn’t permit me to stay for the show that night, and this video gives me a glimpse of what I missed. The glowing sign was not a surprise, but I hadn’t noticed the clever Sold Out sign, and that ticket booth looks amazing.
Another regret is how little room I gave it in my book; I expect to expand its entry in my next edition. As I wrote, the 66 opened on the west side of Carthage on Sept. 22, 1949, about a month after the Sunset opened on the east side of town. The Sunset closed in the early 1970s, but the 66 persists despite a 12-year hiccup. As I wrote:
“Here is your icon of drive-in theaters, Route 66, and more. William Bradfield opened the 66 and ran it for over a decade before selling to the Dickinson chain, which closed it in 1985. Mark and Dixie Goodman bought the place and turned it into an auto parts junkyard. In 1997, they added projection equipment and reopened the drive-in. Twenty years later, the Goodmans sold the 66 to its former security guard Nathan McDonald and his family. Today the drive-in’s grounds and buildings look as nice as brand new, but with a healthy retro flavor.”
Despite a fair amount of digging and some help from Carthage historians, I still haven’t found any real photos of the Sunset. That’s not a problem for the 66. Every picture from this year looks as good as all of its many past photos, and now I know that some of its videos are better yet.