Dallas Drive-In Theatre

Horror Show. The marquee says it all. Most likely from the 5th and final season of the Drive-in, 1982.

Showtime. Projectionist Earl Orcutt working his magic in the booth. Circa 1979.

The Dallas Drive-In Theatre was located on Route 309 in Dallas, Pennsylvania, it was owned and built by B.G. Coon Construction Company. It opened in April of 1951 and was part of the Fox Theatres chain. The first manager was a gentleman named Vern Grof.

Over the years it had been run by several families or corporations.

In the Summer of 1978, Peter Alexander took over operation of the outdoor theatre. Alexander had noticed that the drive-in business had experienced a renaissance in the mid to late 70’s after a slight fall off in the earlier part of the decade. The timing seemed right and he rented the facility from the owner who had retired and moved to Brazil. The only theatre run without his brothers Alec, Frank and Taki – Peter ran the drive-in with his wife Mary and son, Tom through the fall of 1983.

Under their management, the theatre continued the trend of playing double features, and with very few exceptions the going rate was $5 per carload. This of course prompted teens on a budget to cram as many people in the car (and trunk of the car) as possible. Unlike traditional theatres, most drive-ins in the area had a season which generally lasted from late April through early November.  A few drive-ins had car heaters which were handed out to customers as they drove through the gate – the Dallas Drive-in did not.  During most seasons, Alexander closed the drive in after the first weekend of November.

Alexander continued to use Philadelphia-based film booking agent, Gary Feldman of Theatre Management Associates. TMA also booked for the Forty Fort and Luzerne Theatres.

The primary projectionists at the drive-in were Ronald Coleman of Ashley, PA and Earl Orcutt of Forty Fort, PA. Both were members of projectionist’s union, Local 325.

The facility had three buildings. The marquee was built on top of a storage hut, that housed the marquee letters and other equipment. A small box office was located at the entrance gate. The main building at the center of the facility housed the snack bar, office, projection booth and restrooms.

The snack bar served traditional items like hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, soda, and candy. The popcorn was popped at the Forty Fort Theatre every day and stored in a popcorn warmer. The Alexanders offered unusual treats on occasion, featuring some Greek specialties including Souvlaki, Baklava, and Spinach Pie. In the final season, Joe’s Grotto Pizza was served on weekends.

By the 1982 season, Peter Alexander’s health was slowly beginning to decline and it was up to Mary and Tom to manage the theatre. Business in the 1982 and 1983 seasons began to slow, and they chose not renew their contract after the 1983 season.

Projection and concession equipment were auctioned off and the theatre never opened again. The main building and screen were demolished sometime in the mis 1980’s.  The marquee and entrance gate/box office were gone by the early 1990’s.