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In One Ear: Last picture show

Gearhart’s Sunset Drive-in evokes fond memories
By Elleda Wilson

The Daily Astorian

Published on September 22, 2017 12:01AM


John Meiners IV called in and asked why there hadn’t been a story about the old Sunset Drive-in in Gearhart (pictured). Good question. So here’s what the Ear found out at CinemaTreasures.org (http://tinyurl.com/SunsetGearhart):

Located off U.S. Highway 101 on Fifth Street in Gearhart, the drive-in was open before 1952. Greg Kershul bought it in 1955 (and the Times Theatre in Seaside in 1959). When it actually closed is a mystery, but locals who remember the place recall seeing movies there that dated up to the early 1980s.

Then the Ear asked about the drive-in on the “Astoria Oregon: Culture, Tales and History” Facebook page. “Mom used to take us kids there often,” Debi Martin wrote. “There were five of us … she would put us all in our PJs, fill a big bag with popcorn, take cans of soda and off we would go. … Always fond memories.”

“Sunday night Buck Night,” poster Ralph Carol Brown recalled. “A whole car for a dollar. We loaded a pickup with kids and had benches to sit on. It was pretty cold, though. Still (it) was a deal. Only a dollar for all of us.”

“I worked there quite a bit in high school … 1954 to 1958,” Dannie Nichols replied. “… Greg (Kershul) had Tom Wascher and I painted the girders behind the screen. We held the paint cans in our teeth and painted all of them. That screen was very high. Quite a challenge. A good job to have at night, because that is where all of the kids came. Lots of good memories.”

“Ah, yes, the drive-in,” Jim Furnish said. “It was a nice summer night’s entertainment for the Gearhart kids who were nowhere near driving age. We could take blankets/sleeping bags in on foot from the school side and lay ’em out in the grass in front of the screen, after turning up all the speakers in the front row where no one parked. I think there was even a swing set down there, too, if you got bored. Lots of fun, and it didn’t cost a dime.”

Makes you want to jump into the car and find a drive-in, doesn’t it? Good luck with that, by the way, there are only three left in Oregon: in Milton-Freewater, La Grande and Newberg.



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