Mar. 15: 411 Twin Drive In, Centre AL

411 Drive-In sign

photo by Lamar, from the Carload Flickr pool

It’s Day 74 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It was a nice, easy drive of less than an hour to get from Boaz to the 411 Twin Drive In of Centre AL.

According to its web site, the 411 was built in 1953 by Emory Johnson. (The 1955 Theatre Catalog lists Glover Johnson, his father, as its operator.) It was renovated and reopened in 2001, and is now operated by Rex and Carl Johnson, the sons of Emory Johnson. They added a second screen in 2008 and converted to digital projection a few years later.

For a lot of drive-ins, I have to do some detective work to guess the opening date. The 411 may be the only active drive-in that leaves me wondering when it closed. My references show its first life continuing through 1987 at least, but Cinema Treasures says it closed in 1983. When I asked the 411 folks, they agreed with 1983, so I guess those reference books just didn’t notice for awhile.

The 411 is only open Friday through Sunday at this time of year. Once again I found myself wishing that every night was a Friday night.

Miles Today / Total:  34 / 9231 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 41

Nearby Restaurant: The Centre Fuel City BBQ (formerly a Shell station) served up what it easily the best barbecue I’ve ever picked up at a gas station. Great baked beans, green beans, and a tater tot casserole made a very filling lunch. I guess you could call Fuel City a filling station.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The Days Inn here is very basic, but there aren’t a lot of choices in Centre. My room was clean, there was a little something for breakfast, and the low prices leave enough in the budget to splurge later elsewhere.

Only in Centre: I could talk about the three 10- to 12-foot high outdoor fish statues in front of the Weiss Lake Lodge (“crappie capitol of the world”), but that’s so commercial. Instead, we’ll turn to John Pratt Memorial Park, aka Pratt Cemetery, the final resting place of John Jonathan Pratt, who invented the pterotype, an early form of typewriter.

Next Stop: Henagar Drive-In Theatre, Henagar AL.

Mar. 14: Sand Mountain Twin Drive-In Theater, Boaz AL

It’s Day 73 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I returned to Alabama for the first time for the first time in almost two months, driving two hours from Estill Springs TN to the Sand Mountain Twin Drive-In Theater in Boaz AL.

The Sand Mountain Twin opened in 1996. It was purchased by Frank’s Entertainment a decade later. Digital conversion came in around January 2015. Unlike most drive-ins, the Sand Mountain always charges admission by the carload. According to Tieka’s Blog, it offered a free meal ticket to every customer for its all-night Halloween bash in October 2015.

In a 2010 article on, manager Michael Morrison said that little towns have the lower land prices that make drive-ins possible. “Alabama has a lot of rural areas that aren’t gobbled up by the cities, and (drive-in owners) can afford to buy land,” Morrison said. “If this land here were in the middle of Huntsville, they couldn’t afford this property.”

The Sand Mountain is only open Friday through Sunday at this time of year, so after two nights in a row of getting to see a movie, I had to retire early.

Miles Today / Total:  101 / 9197 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 41

Nearby Restaurant: Good thing I got here in time for lunch, because that’s about the only time that The Mill Street Deli is open. Everyone raves about their sandwiches, but I was contrary enough to order a chef’s salad with buffalo chicken strips instead. Part of me thought I was eating healthy, but another part knew I was saving room for dessert.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The Econo Lodge in Boaz has the chain’s usual low price, but it happens to be one of the best Econo Lodges anywhere. It certainly felt like one of the newest. My room was clean and comfortable, and I got just enough breakfast to get started in the morning.

Only in Boaz: Just up the road is Albertville, home of the Mueller Company, which makes fire hydrants. As documented by the Encyclopedia of Alabama, Mueller’s one-millionth hydrant has been nickel-plated and is on display near the Albertville Chamber of Commerce, celebrating the city’s reputation as the “Fire Hydrant Capital of the World.”

Next Stop: 411 Twin Drive In, Centre AL.

Jan. 13: Blue Moon, Guin AL

It’s Day 13 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, Friday the 13th. and once again my drive was a little over an hour. This time the trip was from Russellville to Guin AL, home of the Blue Moon Drive-In Theater.

The Blue Moon is still closed for the season, although its Facebook page says it will reopen in “early 2017.” Just not quite this early, I guess.

According to CinemaTreasures, the Blue Moon opened in 1956 as the single screen Gu-Win Drive-In. (It’s between the cities of Winfield and Guin in the very small town of Gu-Win.) The 1955 drive-in census listed over 100 Alabama theaters, but nothing in any of those three municipalities.

Miles Today / Total:  53 / 1131 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 9

Nearby Restaurant: Should I go to Winfield or Guin? That was my question, because there isn’t that much of anything in Gu-Win. Turns out that the closest restaurant was La Casa Fiesta in Guin. Fresh Mexican food beats the chain restaurants, at least most of them.

Where I Virtually Stayed: Since I had picked Guin for dinner, I figured I might as well stay in town, at the Holiday Inn Guin. That sounds like the name of a small-town motel from the 1960s when Holiday Inn ruled the roads of America, but this place looks like it was built recently.

Only in Guin, or is it Gu-Win: According to Wikipedia, the Gu-Win area had been known as Ear Gap. When it incorporated in 1956, it named itself after its drive-in, which must have been just opening. Less than three miles west, in July 2010, Guin voted to become the first city in Marion County to allow the sale of alcohol since Prohibition. Yet another reason to stay there.

Next Stop: Iula Drive-In, Iula MS.