Motor Vu returns to life

Detail of a screen capture of a KPVI news video

Yaknow, it really disappointed me in 2017 when the healthy-looking Motor Vu Drive-In in Idaho Falls ID failed to answer the summer bell (the spring calendar?) in 2017, which I noted when I “visited” in in my Drive-In-A Day Odyssey that year. So I’m doubly happy to learn that it’s active again, including four benefit dates scheduled for 2022.

As reported by KPVI, Pocatello ID’s News Leader, the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Idaho is promoting the series this year, with all of the gate proceeds going to the charity. Each of the Thursday night double features will start with a Jurassic Park movie, followed by another recent classic.

I’m always happy for any news that lets me flip the On switch in my drive-in database, although I’m embarassed that I didn’t notice it earlier. (Apparently this is its third season back, coinciding with our third year of Covid.) And as the Motor Vu’s marquee shows, it’s also open for regular movies on weekends. It’s one of the oldest drive-ins (1947) in the West, and it’s great to have it back.

Riverdale UT’s Motor-Vu won’t reopen

Motor-Vu Drive-In marquee, with the box office in the background
Detail of a screen capture from a KUTV news video

After some happy news of late, I’ve got some sad news to report. Riverdale UT’s Motor-Vu Drive-In had been a good example of the resurgence of ozoner interest, but it won’t reopen this year. That’s based on a report from KUTV, Salt Lake City’s News Leader, which said that the Motor-Vu had been rezoned for housing and sold to a developer.

The Motor-Vu started in 1947 with only one screen, and that’s what it had when Brent Coleman’s father had purchased the drive-in in 1979. He added two more screens in the 1980s, and the fourth arrived in 1996. In a 2016 newspaper article, Coleman mentioned that it stayed in the family during the following decades, then owned by him and two brothers. “I love movies, and I’ve never known anything else,” Brent said.

The KUTV article mentioned that it had reached out ” to the owners of Motor-Vu Drive-In but did not hear back.” It’s a darned shame when a perfectly good, well attended drive-in gets wiped out for a housing development. It’s all the more reason to appreciate the ones that are alive while we still have them.

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.