Flashback to the Rialto

Shasta Black Cherry soda 08-22-2013While I was in Cape, I picked up some cans of Shasta Black Cherry soda at Schnucks. The taste took me back to the soda dispenser at the Rialto Theater on Broadway.

Buddy Jim Stone, in town chasing a big magnet, reminisced about Carol Klarsfeld, whose mother owned the theater. Carol got to keep the money from the weight machine and the soda dispenser, he said.

Carol used to joke that the two profit centers in the lobby were the soda machine and the popcorn machine. “The most expensive parts of each were the containers they were sold in.”

The soda machine sat over on the left side of the lobby, near the popcorn popper (which produced oceans of fresh-popped corn, drowned in real butter). When you put in your dime, a thin cup would plop down with a satisfying “SMACK!” followed by a smattering of thinly crushed ice and your choice of flavored soda. I don’t remember the other flavors because I always picked Black Cherry.

Rialto and other theater stories

I’ve done a number of stories about Cape’s theaters. Here are some links in case you missed them.

Free the Plants!

Plaza Galleria 04-16-2011About this time in 2011, I wrote about a spooky place in Cape where I swore I could hear plants screaming. The Plaza Galleria, behind the Town Plaza Shopping Center, had been closed since 2005, but the plants in the lobby had been left behind. (You can click on the photos to make them larger or follow the link to see more examples.)

Plaza Galleria is out of sci-fi movie

Plaza Galleria 04-16-2011There must have been enough roof leaks to water the plants and keep some of them alive, with their leaves pressed against the glass lobby’s window panes like they were trying to get out. Some didn’t make it.

Missourian reporter Shay Alderman had a story in Wednesday’s paper that the Plaza Galleria is scheduled to be razed in the next few weeks. The building held the area’s first supermarket in 1969, and served as an ice skating rink in the 1980s.

Dying plant in the Royal N’Orleans

Royal N'Orleans 04-14-2011I started looking for orphaned plants in closed buildings. Here’s one in the Royal N’Orleans from April 2011. Looking through the window at tables still covered with tablecloths was sad enough, but the neglected plant gave the 1806 landmark a real feeling of being abandoned.

Cairo storefront

Closed storefront - Cairo - 07-04-2011I spotted these plants on the 4th of July 2011 in what I took to be some kind of government office in Cairo. I didn’t know if the office had closed or if the occupants were just careless in their watering.

Some managed to escape

Cairo 11-13-2012When I went back in November 2012, the office was empty. Someone must have taken the plants that were still alive.

Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church

Mt Moriah Missionary Baptist Church - Cairo - 01-28-2013This plant was behind a window in the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Cairo.

Blomeyer Drive-In screen being eaten

Montgomery Drive-in in Blomeyer 03-20-2010The concrete Montgomery Drive-In screen in Blomeyer looks like it’s being devoured by something out of one of the sci-fi movies that once played on it.


Drive-In Then and Now

Hocking Hills Drive-In Logan OH 04-09-1970When Friend Jan and I passed through Logan, Ohio, in February, I mentioned that we stopped to take a photo the derelict Hocking Theater for my readers who are drive-in fans. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

This afternoon I was scanning a bunch of aerials I took while flying with a fire spotter in Southern Ohio in the spring of 1970. I couldn’t believe it, but here was a picture of the place in its heyday. The road under construction is what would become the four-lane Rt. 33 that links Athens to Columbus.

The way it looks today

Hocking Hills Drive-In Logan OH 01-24-2013Here’s a link to the story about passing the place (and our motel-hunting experience in Louisville)..

Other Drive-Ins

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.