Monday, July 18, 2016

Ephemeral city: Drive-in theater matchbook

A version of this post first appeared in July 2009.

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This matchbook, with five red-tipped matches, is a relic of the Crest Drive-In Theatre in south Kansas City, featuring an illustration of a stylized Buick of the late 1940s. At the Crest’s debut, in July 1948, newspaper ads proclaimed:

Gala opening tonight, 7 p.m. Something new under the moon. The Crest, a drive-in theatre with the tops in entertainment.

The birth of a single flickering star in the expanding universe of 1948 American drive-in theaters …

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Announcing the Opening of the 1948 Season of the Marion Drive-In Theatre. The Merrimack Park Drive-In theatre will open for its eighth season tomorrow. The Motor-Vu ... Motor-In ... El Cerrito Motor Movies ... The Alamo ... The Elmwood ... Grand Opening Lakewood Drive-In Theatre. Come Early and Enjoy a Gala Evening.

On 71 Highway at 114th. On State Road 17, one mile north of city limits. On U.S. Highway 91. Route 20. Route 76. Route 50, 7 miles west. Near railroad bridge. Over top of College Hill. One mile west of the new General Motors plant.

A 10-acre project. Comprises 15 acres. A 20-acre site. Built on 32 acres. A 350-car capacity Capacity 500 cars. Will hold 700 cars. Room for 880 automobiles. Will accommodate 900 cars.

The Drive-In with the Giant Steel Picture Tower. A huge picture 50 feet wide and 40 feet high. A screen 71 feet tall and 81 feet across. A screen tower over 70 feet high, the equivalent of a six-story building. The world's largest screen and also the safest! Anchored in tons of concrete, and built with tons of steel! Tilted, to provide undistorted sight lines. Perfect visibility from any part of the theatre! Brilliant projection. Finest Quality Sound. Individual speakers for every car. Adjust your own volume!

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The Lima ... The Riverdale ... The Van Nuys ... The Berkshire ... The Roselawn Auto Theatre ... The Ace ... Cactus ... Organ. ... Gala Opening Tonight! The New! Modern! Baseline Drive-In Theater.

Two ticket booths, canopies, a projection booth and canteen building in the center of the parking area. Outdoor seats for people living close who wish to walk to the theatre. The true beauty of the theatre won't be fully realized until the newly planted shrubs and grass spring up in all their natural green splendor. You'll thrill at the sight. You'll gasp at the immense capacity. Wonderful. Superb. Words can't adequately describe the beauty.

Rest Rooms. Playground for the Kiddies – let the kids have fun! Refreshment Stand Centrally Located. Finest Refreshments! For the pause that refreshes, soft drinks, ice cream, popcorn, hot dogs, cigarettes, candy and other confections are available. Can also be purchased at no advance in prices from the Butcher Boys who come to your car. Baby Bottles Warmed at the Snack Bar. Serving Iowa Farm Meat Products. Have You Tried Our Hamburgers? They're Super-Duper!

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The Super 71 ... Super Castle ... Valley ... Mountain-Air ... Mount Ogden ... Starlite ... Tri-State ... Hi-Land ... Midway ... White-Way ... Skyway ... Skyline Auto Theatre. Grand Opening Tonight. The new, modern Sky-Hi Drive-In Theatre.

Here the family can come as a group in one car, and with no parking worries can enjoy their favorite entertainment. A low admission policy of 25 cents for adults, children under 12 free. Admission for adults will be 50 cents. Children under 6 will be admitted free while children between 6 and 12 will be charged only 9 cents. Costs Less Than A Baby Sitter. Two shows nightly, rain or clear. Midnite show every Saturday night. Wholesome movies and adequate lighting discourage open romancing and if that is still insufficient there is a uniformed policeman and 10 ushers whose duties keep them moving through the ramps of cars.

Adventure – excitement – spectacle – the story of the old Chisolm Trail. Howl-arious Laugh Hit of the year to be enjoyed by the entire family! There's Music, Love and Laughter when Betty goes low-down, Barry goes high-hat, and Don goes batty over Betty! The picture with a heart as big as all outdoors. They're through with the Army but the Army isn't through with them! The funniest picture since the laugh was invented. Thrilling Saga of the Old West. The dramatic story of a killer and a girl who taught him to love! Please Don't Tell Anyone What She Did! A Picture for the Whole Family! For a woman like Gina – even a life wasn't too much to give. Hit With 1000 Kisses, and A Laugh for Every One. They're screwy as a nut and bolt factory! See fiery action, adventure, spectacle, romance, two-fisted renegades. Also two cartoons, plus news shorts.

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Free! Giant fireworks display 10 p.m. Free! Key cases to adults. Balloons for the children! Tuesday nite someone will get a Philco 1001 television set or a Philco home freezer. Big bargain night – $1 carload. As Many As a Car Will Hold. Individual In-Car Speakers enable you to close your windows for Cozy Comfort and Privacy.

Smoke, talk and enjoy refreshments while viewing your favorite movie from the secluded comfort of your car. No parking worries. Enjoy the cool of the evening and the beautiful sunset. Just hop in your car dressed as you are and drive on out. See a feature picture sitting in the comfort of your own automobile. Smoke if you like. Dress as you please! There are no "dress-up" problems. Complete privacy – your neighbors won't bother you! No Parking Worries! Just drive in!

Come as you are! Don't worry about your clothes! Smoke when you like! Bring out that shut-in!

Just drive in! You'll love it! 

Always the Best at the Crest.

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