(05/17/2007)

Bonnie Bever loves movies

Calhoun's historical drive-in opens for another year this Friday, now in operation over 50 years. For the latest movie info see mountziondrivein.com

By Bob Weaver

Originally Published 2003

The drive-in picture show is open for another year.

The Mt. Zion Drive-in Theater is now in its' second half-century of operation.

Today, the Mt. Zion Drive-in movie is among America's outdoor theater survivors, according to Bonnie Bever, one of several generations of her family who have engaged in the movie business, first starting in Nicholas County many years ago.

"It is in my blood," she said. The Bever's have operated the drive-in the past twenty years.

The first films flickered on the screen in the early 1950's, a gift to the rural community by John and Helen Cook. Cook and his wife ran the drive-in for about ten years, after closing the Kanawha Theater on Main Street in Grantsville. At least a half-dozen owners have come and gone.

In those early years, patrons from several counties came to the drive-in. Sometimes they had to wait for the second show. It was a time and place when kids and adults got in their cars and trucks and finished their day, relaxing at a movie, eating popcorn and hot dogs. Sometimes they brought the family dog.

Sometimes there were so many cars, John Cook directed traffic with his flashlight.

It was a place to be seen, not to forget the opportunity to date and work on inter-personal relationships.

The movie was often not the important part of going to the drive-in. Drive-ins got the main stream features many months after their releases to indoor theaters.

The Mt. Zion Drive-in now shows first release movies.

In the early days the fare was "B" movies, even "C" movies, some of the worst ever made. They were so bad, they were good.

Most were adventures, teen shows, cheap sci-fi's or goofy monsters taking over the world. If you don't believe this, rent "Plan 9 from Outer Space."

Marshall Bever checking out the projector

Bonnie's dad, Marshall Bever, was busy working on the projectors and sound system when we last visited the drive-in. "We're doing it another year, and we really appreciate all the people who come out during the summer months, enjoy the movie (now they have current releases) and eat at the snack bar," he said.

Things like pizza, burgers, mozzarella sticks, hot dogs and the ever favorite - popcorn. There's a juke box and a couple pool tables, too.

John Cook would get on the speaker system in those early days and run down the menu several times, using such words as "delicious" and "mouth-watering."

The snack bar opens at 7 p.m. with the movies starting at dusk. It's only $5 per adult, children under 10 are free (with adult).

You can always check what's going on at the drive-in this summer by CLICKING the Mt. Zion Drive-In logo on The Herald.

We hope area residents return to the drive-in, one more year, to enjoy the flavor and excitement of drive-in days gone by - in addition to the current movie.


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