BERLINSVILLE, PA ? The year before the Maple Drive-in, formerly on Route 6, closed down, Bill Miller had a funny feeling. ?You could see the state of the place, there were not alot of people attending; I had a feeling he would be closing it down soon.? So he took his son to a drive-in movie, having no idea that he would be purchasing the lot and opening up the Wayne Ford Dealership on the site.
While the drive-in?s classic marquee, the same one the theatre opened with in 1953, was taken down during excavation and is lost to the pages of history, the theatre?s screen remained standing until last summer when it was mysteriously disassembled by cranes and removed from Wayne County?s landscape forever.
However, its whereabout are known, and, in fact, the screen still stands?about two hours away, 11 miles north of Allentown, PA in a little town called Berlinsville.
After purchasing the screen on EBay, the proprietor?s of Becky?s theatre arranged to have the screen disassembled the screen, refinished it, and reassembled it in Berlinsville on the site of their theatre, opened by their father William ?Becky? Beck in 1946. Beck was an old-time projectionist who started showing movies in his parents? living room using a hung bed-sheet. Charlie Chaplin even sat in on a few.
Now, Becky?s is still family-owned and operated by Beck?s four children and three of his grandchildren. ?Everybody pitches in when they can,? says Daryl Beck, ?but Cindy really has it in her blood in the way our father did, even though she doesn?t show it sometimes.?
Becky?s is ?the oldest, continuous, family-operated drive-in in the United States? Beck said. ?It?s a good family venue for families to bring their kids and sit under the stars and watch the movies, two-for-one, and tickets and concessions are way under the prices for an indoor movie-house.?
When asked what brought about the decision to put the screen on EBay, Miller said, ?It was getting to the point where it needed to be refinished. We know there are still drive-ins operating, so we put it on EBay to see if someone could use it. They could, came down, took it down piece-by-piece, and put it to good use.?
The Maple City screen made its new-town premier on May 17th of this year, hosting a free movie night with a showing of ?Night at the Museum?.
?It?s a piece of Americana,? said Miller,?we didn?t want to see it scrapped.?
The Maple City Drive-in was owned and operated by Mr. Mike Delfano of Carbondale, a Navy veteran and graduate of Lackawana Business College. The theatre closed down for good in 2002 and the site was bought by the Millers in 2005.
Becky?s drive-in, which has two screens with multiple showings per night and fits 650 cars, is open throughout the summer months and closes in mid-October. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children over three. Children two and under are free. Visit Becky?s website for more information at www.beckysdi.com. ?I hope that this continues for as long as people want to see movies,? says Beck.