The Drive-In is still alive, but unfortunately some of them may no longer be operating since at the end of this year, the majority of them will face closure with the movie industry’s switch from 35 mm film to digital. Upgrading to digital projection costs will be extremely high.
This summer the Midway Drive-In entertained guests in the great outdoors. Many evenings cars would be lined up along William Penn Highway waiting to get to the entrance of Juniata County’s only drive-in, outside of Mifflintown.
The Midway was built in 1950 and showed the first flick on May 17 of that year. The Berney’s, Irvin and Doris, were the first proprietors and showed the film “When My Baby Smiles at Me,” in Technicolor that first night. It starred Betty Grable, Jack Oaki, and Dan Dailey.
The area where the Midway Drive-In is located was formerly a junkyard that was turned into an open-air theater by Volpe Construction Company.
Many may recall when the concession stand was a spot where Midway had posted license plate numbers to help entice movie patrons to buy refreshments at the snack bar. Each night the ticket taker would randomly choose a car, write down the license number and take it to the concession stand where it would be displayed. Then at intermission between movies, the announcer would alert all movie-goers that they should come to the snack bar and check to see if they’d won a free pass to use on their next trip to the drive-in.
Also at intermission, commercials made their way across the big outdoor screen. Some of the more memorable ones were the dancing hot dog, which was shown on the screen in the movie “Grease,” along with marching ice cream and of course Jolly popcorn.
“Spotty” was a favorite intermission game played and recalled by nearly all outdoor movie-goers. “Spotty” was a bug on the film strip that would move all over the screen and had car owners trying to catch the bug with their mounted spotlights’ light beams.
Some may also remember when the cost of a ticket to the outdoor entertainment center was $1.00 a carload [1950s].
Movie patrons have been parking in the Midway Drive-In’s field for more than a half a century now.
Have a favorite memory from the Midway Drive-in? Feel free to share it right here!