Huntington Landmark to Hit Auction Block Created by djackson on 3/28/2014 1:41:44 PM
John and Nellie Detzler outside a projection booth at the Huntington Drive-In. (Photo by Dean Jackson)
HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WOWO): It was the original big screen.
With dimensions as big as 75 feet by 45 feet or sometimes even bigger, the drive-In was an iconic piece of American culture. At the peak of the craze in the 1950's, about 4 thousand sprung up.
Now, just 350, remain. One of the last ones in northeast Indiana will hit the auction block Sunday. (Click here for auction info and photos)
John Detzler, and his wife Nellie have owned the Huntington Drive-In since 2001. When they got it, it was struggling. After thousands of hours of work and tens of thousands of dollars of investment, it boasts as many as 20,000 visitors a season.
They’ve done everything from mow the grass, pop the popcorn and take tickets since buying it in 2001. They’ve spent countless 15 hour days on the job and other days they didn’t even leave the property. Detzler laughed, that they had a fold-up couch stored in one of the projection booths.
Now, they say it’s getting to be too much work for a couple in their 60's.
“It’s not that we couldn't keep doing it,” he says, “It’s just every season it gets hard, and we get older. It just needs younger owners.”
He says he hopes they find some in their 30's or 40's with a lot of energy to keep it going. He says it would be like losing a body part if the drive-in closed. "It would be a great loss, really."