CLICK->Mel's Drive-In (Mechanicsburg, Indiana): On May 24, 2008 the first stop on the 2008 Movie Tour was Mel's Drive-In in Mechanicsburg, Indiana. Here is a whole set of photos that document the visit we made in a GTO on Memorial Day weekend. This place is out in the country. The movies playing were Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull starring Harrison Ford, and Drillbit Taylor. Out front, they had this marquee. It was a triangular-shaped garage. On each side was a '55 Chevy that was cut in half. The car on the southside is pink, while the north side is painted blue. It is interesting that the main actor in tonight's movie, Harrison Ford, drove a 1955 Chevy in American Graffiti. And that movie was also directed by George Lucas.
See the "flame" sign? That is the top off an old Amoco sign. Mel's is listed on Mapquest as 8721 N State Road 39 Thorntown, IN (765) 325-2230 http://www.drive-ins.com/theater/intmels CLICK->
It is fun to travel around the state visiting every drive-in for a movie. I've seen all kinds of things. This is half a car which is mounted to a shiny piece of metal. The platform is used for climbing. They stand on it to change the letters on the sign each week. When the 1955 Chevy was new, GM promoted it as "The New Motoramic Chevrolet" with new showcar styling, featuring the new Turbo-Fire V8 engine. In the case of this car "half a Turbo-Fire V8 engine"! CLICK->
This is a unique sign that doubles as a garage. Or is it a garage that is a sign? Why is it that marquee signs are always an odd mix of black and red letters jumbled together? Why not all black or all red? CLICK->
Yes, this is a real half-a-car in front of Mel's Drive-in. It gets your attention if you're driving past the entrance on Highway 39. I think the car is a Belair because it has the front fender trim. The model 210's I've seen have no trim there. CLICK->
I had to get a close-up view of this car. The passenger side of the car was attached to a big sheet of metal. It sits next to the wooden sign-changing platform. The roof on this '55 Chevy has been chopped. CLICK->
Near showtime, the sun is setting in the background. Here is the rear of the screen at Mel's. I have seen all types of screen construction in my travels. This one is stabilized with guy wires attached to a single anchor point. CLICK->
Cars enter here. This place has carload pricing at $18. Inside there were many families taking advantage of the deal with minivans and SUV's packed with people. CLICK->
They have mini-golf inside the theater area. The sun sets above the mini-golf sign at Mel's drive in. We saw a few people taking advantage of the 9 hole miniature golf course. CLICK->
This is the side of the screen tower. Every car we followed along the 1-hour drive to the drive-in was a Pontiac. Then when we arrived at the drive-in, the ticket-taker's car was a Pontiac too. CLICK->
A car drives down the lane to a parking spot. At most drive-ins, the signs along the way will spell out the rules of the house. One speaker one space. Lights out. CLICK->
The ball is in play. It is fun to play some volleyball with the kids before showtime. A guy on the sideline told me that volleyball was invented in 1895 which was 4 years after basketball was invented. On this beautiful evening, the clouds were pink and purple. CLICK->
This is the building that houses the projectors. It is always interesting to see how each place sets up their equipment. They have two projection windows and two windows for the projectionist to see out of. The pole is for the low-power FM radio transmitting antenna. In front of the projector windows is a guard fence to keep people from walking in front of them, which would block the movie. CLICK->
The sound for the movie is transmitted on 88.3 FM and they call it "WMELS" on the sign. The FM antenna signal was weak. Looking at the antenna, I can see why. It appears to be missing three of the angled lower radiators. CLICK->
This is the snack bar at Mel's Drive In. We ordered Melburgers. That is a double cheeseburger for $3.50. CLICK->
A nice sunset, to end a nice day! As always, I'm rating each theater on a five star scale. I'm giving this place 3 stars for overall appearance/appeal. It looks like it once was maintained to a higher standard. They get 4 stars for the snack bar, mostly because the adult staff was attentive and seemed to care about getting the orders ready quickly. The cheeseburgers and popcorn were hot and delicious. They get 3 stars for projection quality & sound. The picture brightness was adequate, while the sound broadcast was weak due to low transmitting power or the broken transmitting antenna. We could only get it on the portable radio if the receiving antenna was placed absolutely vertical. The staff gets very low marks for supervising the crowd. First, they allowed kids to play frisbee and football around the cars, rather than in the large playground. We saw people getting their cars "bonked" by frisbees more than once. And the theater staff allowed tall SUV's to park in front of the regular cars. The SUV's had their tailgate windows extended upward to block the view of the screen. They even allowed kids to sit on the roofs of vehicles, in the way of the screen. I'm giving 4 stars for their prices, not too high. They get 4 stars for the restrooms. Mel's gets 4 stars for their showmanship. Before the first show, they were playing trailers and some funny commercials. We were amused by the vintage commercial for "Chilly Dilly" pickles. Between movies, they gave away some door prizes. I would like to thank Mel's for their hospitality, for making the first stop on the UltimateGTO.com 2008 Drive-in Movie Tour a good one.