Procrastination. I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks putting Drive-Ins of New Mexico to bed. After I get a proof copy next week and count the mistakes, the book should be available for sale by the end of the month.
But I have to admit that I wasn’t in a hurry to relay this news. Preston Brown, the owner of Hound’s Drive-In in Kings Mountain NC, announced on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that he would not reopen this year. The Shelby Star reported that Brown sold the site to Albemarle Corp., a Charlotte-based chemical company, and that it may become a lithium mine.
The closure was widely reported, such as on WCNC, Charlotte’s News Leader, but I had to turn to its brief YouTube summary to find a video to embed.
In his post, Brown wrote that “We started this journey together with a vision of a campground and drive-in movie theater that ultimately turned into the #1 highest-grossing drive-in theater with the largest screens in the nation. We broke attendance records not only with other drive-ins, but walk-in theaters also.”
If you want to reflect on happier times, go back to my virtual visit there in November 2017, barely a year after Hound’s opened. Back then, they were just building a second screen to handle the enthusiastic crowds. It’s a shame to see all that hard work sunk into a mine.
Great news! A new drive-in has opened in Tabor City NC, just northeast of the South Carolina border. The Stateline Movie Time is the brainchild of Sherry Barnes, and she told her story to WWAY, Wilmington’s News Leader.
“I believe the Good Lord put this idea in my head,” Barnes said. “I would have never thought of it on my own.”
She says she did just about everything herself including building the housing for the projector, installing the projector, designing and painting the screen, leveling the ground, and setting up the sound system. And all along, it was about giving back and giving thanks after a long recovery from an auto accident.
“I don’t expect to make a lot of money; that’s not the issue here,” Barnes said. “The issue is a wholesome family environment.”
I’m impressed that this shoestring-looking operation is running a digital projector and showing some fairly fresh movies. Here’s hoping that the Stateline grows and prospers for many years to come.
Now that another hurricane has come and gone, my thoughts linger on North Carolina. Of course, WTVD’s thoughts always linger there, since it’s Raleigh’s News Leader. And a couple of weeks ago, before Florence passed through, WTVD ran an article about some of the recently closed drive-ins of the state, along with a discussion of Henderson’s Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre, which is still very much alive.
There’s a nice rundown of some old drive-in histories, and enough insight to show that author Heather Leah knows what she’s talking about. Speaking of a couple of old theater sites, Leah wrote, “The only clue to their former life is the quintessential pie-slice shaped lots, fanning out from a single point, where the screen once stood.”
The article provides a few details about Raleigh-area drive-ins, including the Tower, the Forest, the Starlite, the Cairo, and the Raleigh Road. It ticks off the usual suspects for the reasons why most of them closed. Perhaps best of all, it includes a few photos and a slideshow video, which I embedded here. Check it out!