Updated Drive-Ins of Route 66 now shipping

Drive-Ins of Route 66, expanded second edition, front cover

The updated, expanded, sometimes corrected Second Edition of my first book, Drive-Ins of Route 66, is now available from Amazon and your local bookstore (if you ask them to order it for you). Sorry I didn’t mention it earlier, but I’ve had my head down working on my next book.

Years ago, when I wrote the first version of this book, I was rushing to meet deadlines to exhibit it at the Frankfurt Book Fair. I was hoping that someone in Europe would want to publish a translation, the way I hoped that the PowerBall ticket I bought this past Saturday would make me a millionaire. Like that ticket, my German excursion only gave me the fun of taking part in the game.

Even as I was writing that first edition, my approach was evolving. I started with simple, straightforward descriptions of each drive-in with brief notes. As I worked my way west, I told longer anecdotes of the people behind the drive-ins. I carried that idea forward in my second book, Drive-Ins of Colorado, where I tried harder to focus on the owners’ stories. Humans are more interesting than buildings, even screen towers.

Meanwhile, that first book was becoming a little embarrassing. Nobody complained, but I could see a few mistakes. The first whopper was an omission – Marshfield MO was home to the Skyline Drive-In, with an entrance right on US 66. It didn’t last very long and never appeared on any topo maps, but Boxoffice had mentioned Marshfield’s Skyline a couple of times, so I felt bad about its absence. Then I saw that in using an incorrect third-party maps of old Route 66, I had overlooked a bunch of St. Louis-area drive-ins that were close enough to an old Alt-66.

In addition to adding the drive-ins that I’d flat-out missed before, I widened the search to include any within three miles instead of the arbitrary two and a half. I started writing the expanded version without a hard deadline, which was good because the soft deadlines I marked for myself went whizzing by as I kept looking for another photo or a new detail. The result was a book that I’m proud of, 95% rewritten with more drive-ins, more photos, and better stories.

On the other hand, the new book’s only been out a few weeks, yet I’ve already found a few areas that could be improved. I’ve got a new way of covering that – a corrections and updates section on the official book page here on Carload. This will also be a nice way for me to link to some great online photos that I couldn’t add to the book itself.

Anyway, please go buy my book and tell your drive-in-loving friends about it. When my next book comes out, later this year, I’ll tell you more about that one too.

Pueblo’s Mesa sold, will reopen

The Mesa as it looked in 2005.

We can always use a bit of good news, as was published in this morning’s Pueblo Chieftain. Marcella Snyder and her husband Jon Parkin, already the owners of the Tibbs Drive-In in Indianapolis, have purchased the Mesa Drive-In in Pueblo CO. They’re working on upgrades to the plumbing and a few other items, and are looking to reopen around Memorial Day weekend.

The slightly sad part of the story is a farewell to Chuck and Marianne James, longtime supporters of this blog, who are retiring. They had owned the Mesa since they saved it from the bulldozers in 1994. In 2000, they added two screens to their drive-in from others in Colorado that had closed. After those decades of stewardship, it’s so nice that they found another drive-in enthusiast to take over.

In honor of the transition, the Chieftain produced a nice little slideshow video documenting some of the Mesa’s history. I would note that there are significantly more than 200 active drive-ins in the US, but that’s a minor quibble. Let’s all be happy that this Colorado landmark shows every sign of staying active for decades to come.

27 Twin won’t reopen

Photo from the 27 Twin Drive-In Facebook page

Somerset KY’s 27 Twin Drive-In, open since 1967, won’t reopen for the 2022 season. That was announced on its Facebook page and relayed by WKYT, Lexington’s News Leader.

Owner Brenda Roaden wrote that “the combination of many factors has damaged the viability of the operation.” I don’t know what that means. Could it be that attendance had dropped off?

WKYT reported that Roaden will continue to maintain the grounds, which might lead one to hope that someone new could swoop in to buy the place and get it running again. One Facebook commenter said he expects it to become “a subdivision or strip mall”.

The 27 opened in 1967 with one screen, then added a second in 1980. Let’s hope those screens stay standing, and that someone arrives to light them up again.