Movies return to Route 66

The Route 66 Drive-In is located on the west side of Carthage.

The Route 66 Drive-In is located on the west side of Carthage.

From 1949 to 1985, the Route 66 Drive-In served the four-state region with movies every summer weekend.

Mark Goodman, has owned the property since 1986. Only in 1997 did the Goodman family turn the property back into a theatre from a salvage yard. Mark, his wife, Dixie, and three children turned the drive-in into a family project.

“It’s a family deal,” Mark said. “We all work together and it’s been a great experience.”

April 6 was the opening night to kick off the summer. However, the weather was not the usual summer temperature.

“Tonight is by far the coldest night we’ve ever had since we’ve been open in ’97,” Mark said.

Nevertheless, customers still drove out to see Night at the Museum and Ghost Rider. To some movie-lovers, that’s part of the drive-in experience.

“”It’s fun,” said Chrystal Dalton, sophomore at Carthage Senior High School. “It’s really cold, but that’s what makes it funner because you can cuddle up with a whole bunch of blankets.”

Another part of the Route 66 Drive-In is the family atmosphere. This is accomplished by playing only PG or PG-13 movies. The last and only R-rated movie the Goodmans have played was Saving Private Ryan in 1997.

“It’s just something that we don’t want to do; there’s even some PG-13 we won’t show,” Mark said. “The hardest challenge is getting enough PG, PG-13 movies.”

The drive-in season isn’t based on the weather, but on the amount of appropriate movies the Goodmans find. The season has lasted until mid-October and sometimes as early as mid-September.

Paula Colley, an RN at McCune-Brooks Hospital, said she and her family enjoy the atmosphere of the drive-in.

“We enjoy it all the time,” she said. “We make it a point to come every summer.”

Some customers that night were enjoying their first time at the theatre. Sharon Evans, and her 5-year-old daughter, Porcha, were two.

“I’ll keep coming back as long as (Porcha) likes it,” Sharon said.

Contributing to the customers’ experience are the youthful faces behind the concession stand.

“We’ve got some great kids working here,” Dixie said. “They make it fun.”

Currently, Austin Goodman is in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Charleston, S.C., and Meagan, the oldest Goodman child, helps when needed. However, Mallory, a senior at Carthage and youngest Goodman child, works regularly with her friends. She said choosing who works with her is an advantage to the job. One of which was James Woody, sophomore undecided major at Ozark Christian College.

“I like it even though it gets pretty crazy around here sometimes,” he said.

Other employees are Kyle Miller and Stacey Chaney, seniors at Carthage, and Cathey Chaney, sophomore at Carthage.

“I love it,” Cathey said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Opening night is always nerve-racking for Mark, but he says it always works out. He says he enjoys his work, however, the changing times may interfere with drive-in’s future.

“You don’t know if technology is going to push us out,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. It’s slowly adapting to DVD and when that happens that’ll be the end of drive-ins.”

With approximately 400 operating drive-ins in the United States, Mark says it’s no problem to play a movie from the 1930s.

“They haven’t changed the format any,” Mark said. “We never get to see the movie, we have to rent it, but that’s what we do. It’s been a great deal for us.”