Thursday, August 20, 2015

History of Bates County: Sky-Vue Drive In

Gone are the days of black and white television- if you wanted to see a movie in color, you went to a theater. And if you wanted a special date with your girl, you went to a DRIVE IN movie theater...

One of Butler's historic landmarks, now long since gone, was just that place. Located just north of the new Bears football field on south 71 highway, the driveways in to and out of Sky Vue Drive-In are still visible.

Records indicate Sky Vue was opened in 1960 by George Snitz, and for the next 20+ years was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.

A small, dimly lit booth, barely big enough for a person, was located just inside the entrance. There was a quick glance to verify how many were in your car, collect your cash and you were on your way to find the perfect parking spot. If it was already dark, you turned off your headlights and were guided by small marker lights that kept you from driving into the abyss.

The facility was able to accommodate just more than 250 cars (albeit with a few unpaid movie goers in the trunk) that parked on gravel terraces to provide an unobstructed view of the big screen. Lower your window, hang the heavy aluminum speaker on the glass, and get ready for the show.

Located in the middle of this open air theater was the concession stand and projection room. It was a small building, usually quite warm inside on a Summer's night as popcorn, hot dogs, fries and soft drinks were served up.

On the north end of the building, a projectionist threaded films onto one of two projectors, required because an entire movie would not fit onto one reel. Occasionally, the projectionist would have a problem- such as sound getting out of sync with the movie. Or, missing a cue to start a new reel (the cue being a small mark that appears on screen telling the projectionist to start the next reel).

Projection problems or not, it was all part of the experience. Sometimes it would would rain. Or someone would have a dead battery because the left their foot on the brake pedal. Maybe, some just fell asleep after an all nighter and had to be revived by the manager.

Due to competition with television, VCR's and other mediums, drive in theaters have mostly died a slow, painful death, as was the case with Sky Vue, which closed in the late 80's.

It's Saturday night! What are you gonna do? Go to Sky Vue!