Dean-O-Matic

Archive for November 2011

Midway Drive-In Theatre, Thomasville, NC

with 19 comments

Midway Drive-In, Thomasville, NC, 1992 by Dean Jeffrey

One of the reasons I love Flickr, part 2:

Way back in 1992 I shot a few slides of what was left of the Midway Drive-In in Thomasville, NC. At that point, there wasn’t much there except for the sign and the vacant land where the theater had been. When I went to post those images on Flickr nearly twenty years later, I couldn’t find any info online about the theater. Nothing on Cinema Treasures; nothing on any of the other drive-in sites. So I went ahead and stuck the pictures up there, hoping that some day I’d find out more about the Midway.

About a year after I posted them, I got a Flickr message from the grandson of the owner:

“Hi, my grandfather was the general manager and later owner of the Midway Drive-In. I have searched for years for a photo of our marquee sign and I just found it on your Flickr page. My grandparents both worked their entire lives at the Midway. My grandmother died last year. My grandfather is still alive, and I would love to get a large copy of your photo framed and matted for his birthday.”

Really? Hell, yes. Of course you can print that image for your grandfather! I asked him for a little more info about the Midway, and he replied with:

“My grandfather is Jack Malphurs. He worked as a general manager for Consolidated Theaters from 1951 to 1956 at a drive-in in Charlotte N.C. He was very successful at the Charlotte location. In 1957, Consolidated wanted to open one of the largest drive-ins in N.C. (the Midway held 500 cars) on National Hwy (1400 National Hwy) so they offered to relocate my grandfather and grandmother and they built the Midway. My grandfather managed it for Consolidated until 1976, at which time Consolidated wanted to close the Midway so my Grandfather purchased the name (Midway), all the buildings, the screen, and all rights to the name, and he leased the land and kept the drive-in open until 1986.

“In 1986 the land was sold and the Midway was closed. I worked at the Midway from 10 yrs old until 18 yrs old when it closed.”

He went on to tell this sad story: “A local business owner wanted to decorate his restaurant with photos of the Midway, and my grandparents were very excited. They gathered every photo we owned (93 photos) and gave them to the man to make copies for his restaurant. Two weeks later he contacted my grandmother and told us that all the photos were stolen when his car was broken into. We now only have photos we can find on the internet (like the ones you took).

“Sorry this is such a long email. I could talk about the Midway all day. I still have dreams every now and again that I’m driving down the road and I see the Midway just like it never closed. For 2 or 3 years after it closed I couldn’t even drive by where it had stood because it made me feel sick.”

Since then, there’s been a little bit of info about the Midway added to Drive-Ins.com, including the fact that the site of the Midway is now a shopping center.

The only other shot I took of the Midway back then was what used to be the ticket booth and the land behind it. Wish I’d gotten there sooner, when there was more of the theater still left.

Midway Drive-In, Thomasville, NC, 1992 by Dean Jeffrey

Written by Dean Jeffrey

November 9, 2011 at 6:42 pm