There’s a drive-in east of Tyler TX that doesn’t seem to engender much civic pride. It’s one drive-in that doesn’t need to worry about converting to digital projection because it apparently dumped film a long time ago. I’ve never been there, but according to two reports, the Apache Drive-In now shows adult-rated movies, and business is pretty good. According to Google Maps, as of April 2013, the place looks pretty much the way it did when Captain Chicken and someone from filmmaker Lucid, Inc. visited, separately.
Captain Chicken, aka Terry Moore, runs (ran?) a Texas Drive-In page. His report from 2002 is the more extensive of the two, including more photos. He determined that the reason the image on the screen was so dim was that the movie was being delivered by a home theater-type projection system in a box a short distance from the large, damaged screen. That’s what he saw, and we’ll have to take his word for it. As he wrote, “The duty manager was less than cooperative. He refused to discuss the projection source. In fact, he was unwilling to discuss anything related to the theater.”
The page at Lucid, Inc. is undated, but Archive.org first noticed it in 2012, so that’s likely to be the year it was written. It includes a few photos suggesting that the Apache didn’t change much for 10 years. The “bite” at the upper-right corner of the screen had widened, validating Captain Chicken’s theory that nearby trees had grown to knock down that piece. The projection box, entrance sign, and ticket booth looked pretty much the same as they had a decade earlier. And the folks there were just as uncooperative. “On the porch sits a husky, overall-clad man fiddling nervously with a large diamond stud in one ear,” the Lucid-eer wrote. “He has very little to say about who owns the still up and running XXX drive-in theater – except that she is a private person who is quite happy to remain unknown. ‘This is East Texas, honey. The big shiny buckle of the bible belt. Ain’t nobody gonna talk to you about what they do here.’ ”
I don’t know what else to say. The 1955 Theatre Catalog showed three drive-ins in Tyler, the Crest, Rose Garden, and Starlite, but it’s unclear if any were what would become the Apache. This spring, I had the opportunity to snap a picture of an allegedly similar drive-in near El Paso, but I routed my Arizona-New Mexico trip through Alamogordo NM instead. I’d rather see another family-oriented drive-in near Tyler, but if that’s what the locals want, I guess that’s their business. Still looks kinda creepy to me.
Update: On March 9, 2023, the Apache Drive-In Facebook page, the apparently official account posted “Sad to announce the Apache Drive-In Theatre is permanently closed and the property has been sold.”