Blomeyer Drive-in Theater

Reader Toni Eftink asked, “Wasn’t there a drive in right outside of Cape near Blomeyer? I think the screen is even still up…has a lot of vines covering it, but I drive past it on my way home to Leopold.”

Toni is a decade or two too young to have ever seen a movie at the Montgomery Drive-in Theater just south of the Diversion Channel on Hwy 25, but the old concrete screen is still there. She’s right, too, that it’s being devoured by creepy-looking vines like something out of one of the sci-fi movies shown ON that screen.

1960s Montgomery Drive-in aerial

That’s the drive-in in the lower left portion of the picture. The screen is the bright, square object. The Diversion Channel is on the right. Click on any photo to make it larger.

I’m not sure I ever saw a full movie there. Wife Lila and I went there one night when we were dating, but the mosquitoes were so bad that we bailed early.

Montgomery Drive-In aerial in 2010

Used mobile homes and other structures have replaced the movie parking area, and thick brush has grown up around the screen. The screen is at the lower right part of the photo.

No popcorn available here

The roof of the projection / concession stand building has collapsed.

Building used for storage

It looks like the building had been used for miscellaneous storage of parts by the mobile home folks along the highway.

Screen made of concrete

Morris Montgomery, owner of the drive-in, said the original screen was made of redwood shipped in from Oregon. A Missourian story said a windstorm blew it down Sept. 22, 1965. Morris said the wooden screen was replaced with one made of concrete panels cast locally and supported by heavy steel I-beams.

Concrete and I-Beams look sturdy

The screen and its supports have held up well for being nearly half a century old.

Theater showed few first-run movies

Morris said the drive-in showed very few first-run movies. “The big movie theaters in Cape had contracts that embargoed those kinds of shows for at least 14 days.” TV and air conditioning took its toll, too.

A dollar per carload

Morris said they experimented with different ways to make the drive-in appealing to the cost-conscious.

They tried free Monday nights for awhile, counting on the $100-$150 in concession sales to carry the freight. That’s a lot of hamburgers at 25 cents each and hot dogs priced at 15 cents.

In 1958, you could bring in a whole carload for a buck. “Dad laughed about the night he saw a car coming in with just the driver, but the car’s rearend was dragging the ground. He stopped the car and said, ‘Get ’em out of the trunk. It’s a dollar a carload. I don’t care how many people you stuff in it.'”

I’m not sure when the last movie was shown. Morris said his mother and son tried to re-open the theater two nights a week – Friday and Saturday – in June 1980, but decided very quickly to close it for good.

New Blomeyer roundabout

While we’re talking about the Blomeyer area, the state just finished construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of Hwys 25 and 77. Some locals have said that the only problem is that it’s not big enough to accommodate the big grain trucks common to the area. The trucks have to drive up on the red brick area to make the turn.

The theater is located slightly to the north of this intersection.

28 Replies to “Blomeyer Drive-in Theater”

  1. This would be a great place to shoot (and show I guess) a horror movie.

    BTW, didn’t your theater have the trucks that drove around fogging everyone with DDT? You missed out.

    1. Bob,

      I’m pretty sure most of the drive-in window fogging around here was done from the inside of the car.

      When we moved to FL, they not only had speakers to hang in your car window, they piped air conditioning through flexible ducts into your car.

      We have one drive-in in Lake Worth, FL, that still shows movies.

  2. Ken,
    Thanks for all the info on the Montgomery Drive-In and especially all the photos. You went way ebyond my request for info. By the way that Drive-In in Lake Worth is the Lake Worth Drive-In which started out as the Trail Drive-In located on Lake Worth Rd. If I am not mistaked it is a Twin Screen with a 460 car capacity. With all the replys about the Cape Drive-In I have as much info on it as I do on the Lake Worth. Thanks again for all your effort and the efforts of the Cape followers.

  3. Oh, Ken, this is SO GREAT! I have been wanting to know about this drive-in for YEARS! I didn’t know about it in its heyday, but I drive past it every time I go to Cape. You make me feel soooo inadequate as a newspaper reporter! I should have done a story on this place a long time ago! I hope you don’t mind if I do something on my Daily Statesman blog, giving your link and some teaser information?
    I had no idea the screen was CONCRETE! It’ll still be there when we’re all dead and gone!

  4. My Mom and aunt drug me down there once at a young age to see my first viewing of “Gone With the Wind”. Gable might have distracted the ladies from the buzzing mosquitoes, but not me…it was the only time I went.

  5. I am remember going there with my grand parents and ALL my cousins…and a dollar was a big price. Even for a whole carload. A bargain if you had a large group but remember kids went to the show for .25 and over 12 for .35…so a buck was a bargain only if you had a crew.
    The only thing I really remember about this drive in was the “Let’s all go to the Lobby” song…they changed the words to “lets all go to the concession stage”…weird, but true.
    I usually went to the Stardust Drive In, located on Kings Highway north of town. Steamy windows and good food and I was told they played movies there too!

  6. Awesome Ken! Thanks for covering this…I have always wondered what theater it was(or if it even actually was ever a theater) and when it operated. It does look creepy now with the vines now, but now I’ll look at it with resolve when I drive by!!! 🙂

  7. Mongomery Drive-in, only went there once that I recall because the mosquitoes were so bad. I can not remember any other circumstances. Cape Drive-in, the drive-in south of town on Nash Road, actually may have been directly off of old highway 61, was the first drive-in theater I remember in the early 50’s. The family would load up in the car for one dollar a carload and see such classics as Francis the talking mule and Ma and Pa Kettle movies. I don’t remember any mosquitoes there but they should have been bad there too. I do remember our family brought our own concessions as it was too expensive to buy food at the concession stand or so the story was told to us kids. The Jackson Drive-in was north of Hubble Creek by the Park, west of Business Highway 61. It was a treat to go thru because the movies were better, like Cheaper by the Dozen, starring Clifton Webb in technicolor. Finally my favorite was the StarVue Drive-in Theater. From 1958-1960 I worked at the ticket booth with Juanita “Skeeter” Loos. It was a fun job as long as the dust from the drive blew the other way and the bugs in the lights weren’t too bad when I changed the marquee for the next show. When I quit my job, my cousin, Harold took it.

  8. Now you’re talking about our era — the 1950s and early 1960s. I have no idea how many times we went to these theaters, the Cape Drive-in with my parents and sister and the others with friends and dates. Good times. Thanks a bunch.

  9. What I recall about the Blowmeyer drive in WAS the mosquitos! They indeed sprayed something (probably ddt) before the show started and we’d buy a ring of something toxic that would burn on the dash board during the movie. Per Kens comment, I was way too young to do “self fogging” in them days.

  10. Dang, I forgot about those green mosquito rings. You bought them at the concession stand. Almost drove you out of the car instead of the mosquitos, they smelled so bad. Thanks to all you folks for the comments on the drive-ins in the Cape area.

  11. Ken, Great name you got there!! You were in the Flying Indians were you not??? I’m Dexter’65 and remember you from around SEMO, ’65-67, I was in Grotto, and A Phi O, lived in Myers, so you’ve got a “Dexter reader” although I’m up near Kansas City these days, I keep up with Dexter and Cape regularly, great article on the old Montgomery, enjoyed the aerials as well, regards, kkr

  12. I can remember it fondly from the late 60’s a good cheap way to spend a Friday or Saturday night. We would pool are money 6-9 people in a car. We could see a movie and eat for less than $10. Of course taking your own food wasn’t out of the question. I remember the mosquitoes they weren’t as bad during early spring or late fall not as much standing water I guess. That pond just to the north was a good place to fish at one time but it was the perfect breeding area. There was also the old Star View between Cape & Jackson (used to go there a lot) and the one south of Morley can’t remember it’s name. It’s a shame there can’t be one around close today. I guess we’re to spoiled with AC & heating. Nice article I appreciate your jogging some good memories for me!!!

  13. Aaahhh, such sweet memories of drive-ins. Ken, wonderful aerial shots and my friend enjoys writing stories of yesteryear and you are a great inspiration. I am wondering if Mr Long is one I remember from Malden years ago? Please forgive my inquiring on your post and I see many friends have posted here already. Thanks for all you do and perhaps I can soon visit the drive in at Lake Worth, Fl.

  14. Sorry I’m probably not the one you remember. I’m from Advance been here almost all my life. I still live here. Even managed to make it through all 12 years of school here. I graduated in 1970. My mother taught school here for over 20 years and my dad was the one and only police officer we had through most of the 60’s. It’s kinda amazing though that such a simple thing as a drive in can bring back so many memories. I had forgotten about those little spiral rings you lit to drive off the bugs. Yes they didn’t work well and you had to be careful not to knock them off the dash. They could burn the seat or carpeting on the floor. I know this from personel experiance. I messed up the carpet on my really spiffy 1963 Chrysler Newport OK so it was used and not so spiffy but I really liked the push button gear shift. AHHH more good memories.

  15. The little spiral ring was called a Pic! I’m sure I was one of the many that went with you Ken Long to the drive inn. We would have people in the trunk of the car! I can remember my dad taking us to see The Blob at that drive inn. I was so scared when we got home I was afraid to get out of the car because I thought the Blob would be under it! Great memories! Thanks for the trip back in time.

  16. I recall using a version of the “dollar a carload” deal at the Star Vue. John “Yogi” Seabaugh had a girlfriend (Vicki?) who had a ’53 Chevy with a big trunk. Yogi had her drive into the drive in with a cooler full of beer on the back seat while we all hid in the trunk. She would pay her dollar and we all snuck in for free. I recall one time when the ticket taker asked Vicki why she had so much to drink in the back seat. She replied “I’ve got a lot to forget!”. We had to hold our mouths to keep from laughing out load.

  17. My grandfather (E.M. Stites) produced the precast concrete for this drive-in screen at his plant in Dexter. According to my grandmother, the Montgomerys never paid the retainage on the project because they weren’t convinced that it wouldn’t fall down.

  18. We went as a family becouse it cost very little, remember we always spent our times at the drive-ins at the play ground on the swings. I remember 4 drive-ins in the cape area we spent our friday nights at.

  19. I really enjoy your pictures and comments. Does anyone
    remember the chili cones at the Cape Drive-in? They were thick chili in ice cream cones–delicious!

  20. Ken, the aerials of the traffic circle at Blomeyer make it apparent that a new road is being built east from the traffic circle, paralleling the old Frisco tracks that ran back east from Blomeyer to Nash and ultimately Marquette Cement. Your pictures old and new continue to give and give! Keep up the good work posting, it is definitely enjoyable for anyone from the greater Cape area.

  21. Keith, The road going East from the traffic circle crosses a railroad track and someone had the wonderful idea to put a concrete divider in the road as you approach the tracks. You should see all of the black tire marks on the divider and the car and truck parts littered about.

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