Another Drive In Goes Dark
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Posted by Bart Freese (+932) 13 years ago
Lewistown drive-in closes
By The Associated Press

LEWISTOWN - The Western Aire Drive-in is closing for lack of people who want to watch movies while sitting in their cars.

The Lewistown drive-in, which opened in 1944, has been operated since 1961 by the family of Marc Campbell. To sustain the Western Aire, the average size of the audience would have to double, Campbell said. The drive-in's screenings on Friday and Saturday nights have drawn about 80 people.

http://www.billingsgazett...rivein.txt


photo of Lewistown drive-in


Sad to see. I still miss going to Terry and the Terry Prairie Drive-In.
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Posted by Brian (+354) 13 years ago
I remember when I was very young, living in Douglas, Wyoming, my parents took me to see several movies at the Drive-in. It's a great place to take rowdy kids to a movie. Do they still have the one around Plentywood?
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10031) 13 years ago
There's an article on the latest issue of Montana Magazine about the remaining drive ins in the state - the one in Lewistown was prominently featured in the article.

It's too bad that they are not viable anymore - going to the drive in was always a great thing to do.
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Posted by Major Pain (+206) 13 years ago
We (my partner and I) rarely even go to the "regular" theater any longer. The prices are just too high for what you get.

To us, it seemed better to put money into a good home theater, pay for a Blue-ray HD version of the film, and own it permanently. We get to avoid the screaming babies, the teenagers texting on their cellphones, the neanderthal right behind who has a loud comment for every scene, the conflict between being forbidden by house rules to bring snacks, and the house snacks themselves, which are generally priced somewhere between lobster and the finest steak on a per-ounce basis.

On Blueray, you can view the film any time (and as many times) as you you like, pause it as needed, enjoy it with your entire family, you get bloopers and deleted scenes and previews and director's commentaries, you get access to your own kitchen, popcorn at about one hundred times less cost per ounce (and with real butter instead being drenched with the blood of a murdered palm tree), as well as all kinds of snacks you can't get at the theater, you can replay scenes if you miss dialog, that one film can play in as many rooms and entertainment systems as you own - at your convenience and on your own schedule...

No, the theater just isn't all that any longer. Not for us.

When it was a buck to get in and there was nowhere else to see the film, that was something else entirely. Today, it seems to me to be an obsolete institution altogether. If you don't have HD at home, that might seem harsh, but those of you with good setups know just what I'm talking about.

We like to go out and be social too, but you can do that over an ice cream cone, a walk by the river, or an evening listening to local talent over a bottle or two of your favorite beverage. We just spent several hours listening to a bunch of local musicians; didn't even come to a third of what a theater would charge, and that was live entertainment. I can't help but feel that Hollywood's hunger for cash has outstripped its common sense perception of its own worth. Habits will carry the public only so far - especially in the face of an economy driven to extremes by oil and credit problems.

The only thing that theaters have going for them is they get the new releases first. What we have going for us, however, is patience. And once the whole "see the new film" habit is dropped, about six months later, you're treated to a stream of movies that are totally new to you that once begun, never stops. Money's not all that easy to come by. But the experience of seeing a movie for the first time is the same now, or six months later. Perhaps even better - as the old saw goes, "anticipation makes the heart grow fonder."

Just a little browsing at a pawn shop can put the cost of a great movie in perfect condition at about five bucks, even for a full HD version... and you all know what a night at the theater for two or more costs. The comparison is brutal. We just can't see it any longer.

YMMV, of course.
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Posted by Shu (+1800) 13 years ago
Major Pain,

You make a pretty good point, I must say.

When I was a kid, I could head to the Montana or Park Theatre with a dollar bill, pay the then-75 cents admission and use the leftover quarter to get a small popcorn to enjoy the movie with. There was also a "summer matinee" deal where you could pay 10 bucks for, I think 12 tickets and go see a different movie every week for the entire summer. Nowdays? No chance for anything less than a few times that amount of dough.

I now find movies more enjoyable in the comfort of my own home, anyway...sorry to say that I don't generally find the movies that now come out as enjoyable as they once were, though...too many scriptwriters and producers are scraping the bottom of the barrel for lack of fresh ideas for movies.

Other than that, sorry to hear another drive-in is gone. I used to like the Sunset Drive-in as a kid, and went to the one in Terry once, too. Drive-in theatres are fading away, indeed.

God I sound old, don't I?

[This message has been edited by Shu (edited 7/6/2008).]
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Posted by Bart Freese (+932) 13 years ago
Shu, you are old. Your mother and father, however, are ageless!!!

I still enjoy going to the movies. I like the lights. I like the smell of pop corn. I like the bustle of people.
I agree about the folks talking around you, but hey.

I really like to go to the Montana because I want the Montana to stay open. Open means buying that tub of pop corn, etc. Especially when a new release is playing, like Wall-E. That is where they make their money. Plus, it employees people -- particularly high schoolers.

Do your community a favor. Go to the show and order the biggest freakin' tub of pop corn they have. The one that comes with its own handcart.



Bart
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Posted by hilinetransplant (+135) 13 years ago
I to still like to go to the movies at the theater. I am with bart on this one. I say movie popcorn is the best popcorn and fountain pop seems to always taste better at the movies. the giant screen,the lighting, the whole movie atmosphere is fun for me, not to mention all the previews for new movies are fun to. Yeah, it costs alot more to go, but so does everything else in life anymore.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17663) 13 years ago
I go to the movies a lot in the summer....funny how nice an air-conditioned theatre feels when its 100° outside. Can't say I make it very often during the other 10 months of the year.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11900) 13 years ago
I miss the Sunset. Trying to find a speaker with decent sound? Remember those mosquito coils you'd burn on the dashboard that would leave a horrible greasy mark on the windshield that annoyed your father? Falling asleep in the back seat and never knowing how the movie turned out?

I love the movie theater. (Not unbiased here. I work at the Montana.) The big screen makes a big difference for some films. Ever watched Lawrence of Arabia on tv? Loses a lot, doesn't it? And the popcorn is cooked at a much higher temperature, which is part of why it tastes different. I have the burns to prove it! Having a functional big screen downtown theater is a blessing. I only wish I would win the lottery so I could restore the interior to its full Art Deco glory! Look at those lights above the front door some time. They are beautiful and irreplaceable.
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Posted by Bill Zook (+491) 13 years ago
Re: Plentywood drive-in, our daughter and family live there and she informs us that the community has taken over operation of both the drive-in and town theaters. It is run with alternating volunteer help. Summers for the drive-in and the town theater during the winter months. I do not know if those who man the various duties are paid.
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1886) 13 years ago
I miss the Sunset too. I liked the "five for the price of two" deal.
Two in the car and three in the trunk.
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10031) 13 years ago
I don't know if he remembers it, but back in the early 70s Chuck and I (and some other friends) saw a UFO in the sky one night while at the Sunset. Those were the days ; -)
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1886) 13 years ago
I'm surprised YOU can remember it, Hal.
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Posted by Major Pain (+206) 13 years ago
"Ever watched Lawrence of Arabia on tv? Loses a lot, doesn't it?"

Not on my TV. :-)
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10031) 13 years ago
>>I'm surprised YOU can remember it, Hal.

I've no problem remembering what happen 30-40 years ago . . . remembering where I set my keys last night is a whole nother story.
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1886) 13 years ago
Amen.
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Posted by Dave Golterman (+236) 13 years ago
Bill,

A slight correction. The Sunset Drive In in Plentywood is still privately owned. Perry & Nola Stratton had owned both the drive in and the downtown Orpheum Theater, but they were forced to close the Orpheum when costs got prohibitive a few years back. That's when the community stepped in and took it over. A board of directors runs the theater and there is a part-time paid manager. There are volunteers who do some of the work and I believe that the high school kids who work at the theater get paid.

Dave (Plentywood native and now in Langdon, ND)
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Posted by K.Duffy (+1807) 13 years ago
I hate to admit I lived in Glendive.. a LONG TIME AGO... (luckily, I got out just in time, as I'm now near sighted as hell..) anyway, in the summer time, Our Savior's Lutheran Church had an early service on Sundays at the Skylark Drive-In! Did any church do that here in MC? The Pastor and choir were up on the roof of the snack bar, and the calling card that brought the congregation in, was the "come to church in your pj's"
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Posted by Frank Hardy (+1650) 9 years ago
Here is a great photo on Flickr of the sign at the Sunset Drive-in fairly closely resembling what it looked like when operating. I remember the arrows and the lights lining the road into that great place located right next to the Crossroads Inn.

http://www.flickr.com/pho.../lightbox/

Here's another somewhat later after more of the ravages of time:

http://www.drive-ins.com/...un2001.jpg

Cheers!
FH

PS- Does anyone know the whereabouts of Jackie Holmes from the class of 1977? If I recall, her family owned the drive-in theater.
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Posted by Kacey (+3153) 9 years ago
I have very fond memories of the Sunset Drive-In. From the time all three of us kids were tossed into the back seat of the big Pontiac Star Chief Executive (there was room for 3 in that car!) to when I went there with friends in high school.

The speaker in the window, having to crank the windows up and suffocate or else suck the stench from the coil burning on the dash. The dark, tiny bathrooms with the green light in the hallway. The big counter where we'd get barbeque beef sandwiches!! Oh yeah. They were the best.

Standing in the big window and watching the movie while we waited for our food to get ready.

The fireworks on the 4th of July...."That's All Folks!"

Wow..what a lot of memories.

I used to go to the Laurel Drive-in. But after paying to see a movie and having them announce on the speaker that they don't have 25 cars to watch the movie I wanted so I would have to go to the other side and watch the nasty movie I said enough.

I did go watch Oz at the Montana and it was enjoyable. Lots of memories at that theatre too, including both daughters working there during high school. It's a treasure.
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Posted by Gene Larson (+277) 9 years ago
Drive-ins had their magic for us memory seekers! Just yesterday (May 04)I was contemplating getting out my unpublished illustration of the Sunset Drive-In. It "shows" my lone station wagon among the speaker rows, an ad on the screen for the food bar and an insert of the food bar itself. Just don't know how well it would sell.

Usually, with my illustrations, if I have one or two hundred prints made, I sell only a half-dozen of them, so wonder whether to have them done. I'd like to, though. It's been haunting me.
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10013) 9 years ago
Gene Larson wrote:
Usually, with my illustrations, if I have one or two hundred prints made, I sell only a half-dozen of them, so wonder whether to have them done. I'd like to, though. It's been haunting me.

Perhaps some sort of crowd funding? Basically only commit to delivery if certain criteria is met (e.g. 100 pre-orders, etc.). If the goal isn't achieved no one is charged and nothing is delivered. Not sure what the best site is for artists doing that, but I'm sure there are a bunch out there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w...wd_funding
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Posted by Kacey (+3153) 9 years ago
Gene,
I would be glad to help you market them. I love your drawings as you well know!

How many would you need to sell and can you tell me what size they would be and price?

Also, when would it be available? Our class reunion is coming up in September. Would be a great time to sell some. Also Facebook has CCHS grads page which is all about nostalgia and Miles City.
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Posted by Gene Larson (+277) 9 years ago
Thank you, Larry. Thank you, Kacey for both your replies. It would be awhile before I can get to making a decision.

Kacey, my finished art window is 9" X 12" on 11" X 17" print paper
for cropping/framing. Will let you know when I decide what to do. Again, thanks!
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10013) 9 years ago
@Gene - Take a look at the following:

http://www.kickstarter.com/hello

It's one of many great new resources for artists. I would love to see some of your unpublished works, such as the previously mentioned Sunset Drive-In illustration. I don't know, but perhaps that service could help make it practical?
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Posted by Kacey (+3153) 9 years ago
Gene,

Posted a question on FB as to interest in your drawing. Already have several saying definitely yes!
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Posted by 007 (+167) 9 years ago
After the Sunset closed, I went to a concert by Mirror Image. Man that was along time ago, fun and loud!
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