Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nostalgia Mingles with New Movies at OKC Drive-In Theatre

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nostalgia Mingles with New Movies at OKC Drive-In Theatre

Article excerpt

Stories of the demise of drive-in theaters are commonplace.

Virtually every adult, say over the age of 30, can tell of their memories of days gone by.

But Lindy Shanbour doesn't spin a tale of cinematic doom.

Shanbour has owned Winchester Drive-In Theater since it opened on July 3, 1968, in an area just north of Interstate 240 on S. Western Avenue.

While many others have failed, the Winchester has survived. Not many in Oklahoma have. Those that continue to light the nights are Admiral Twin in Tulsa, the Chief in Chickasha and the Beacon in Guthrie, plus others in McAlester, Ponca City, Poteau, Tahlequah and Weatherford.

Not far from the Winchester is the old Riviera Drive-In, at SE 59th Street and Santa Fe Avenue. A worn concession stand and steel supports for a screen that was blown down in 1999 are all that remain.

Winchester is a survivor, and Shanbour does all he can keep it in good shape.

"I opened it with my brother, Farris, and worked with him," Shanbour said.

Farris died about 20 years ago, and Shanbour has done all he can to hold it together.

Farris Shanbour built North Park Mall and the family also had a hand in Hillcrest Drive-In, which was near SW 59 Street and Portland Avenue, and with the Tower Theater on NW 23rd.

Today, it's all about the open air, and Winchester has some advantages others may not - mainly financial.

"One thing about this is that it's all paid for," Lindy Shanbour said. "That's important, and that's why a lot of drive-ins close. You're only open about 7.5 months, so it helps that you are paid off."

Winchester has bucked the trend. There have been many drive-ins in the metro that didn't make it, but the theater with the large sign of a cowboy and rope has been a lure through the years.

"We've always done well with it," he said. "It's seasonal now. It used to be year-round. Things are different since technology has changed. …

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