Beacon Drive-in still popping up corn, memories

Tuesday, July 8th 2008, 11:09 am
By: News 9

By Darren Brown, INsite team

GUTHRIE, Okla. -- The Beacon Drive-in Theatre was built in 1950.  Back then, Guthrie's Powell family owned a string of indoor and outdoor theaters across the state.

Marsh Powell, 48, is the third generation to operate the Beacon.

"I just got back from college and was setting a few things up and about that time our theater circuit sold, and we decided we'd like to keep one piece of property and this is the one we kept," recalled Powell.

Powell has run the Beacon ever since. He says his customers like the fact that time seems to stand still at the Beacon.

"Well this chair's probably been sat in a half a million times at least," he said, referring to the row of multicolored metal chairs outside the snack bar.  The snack bar itself hasn't changed much since the 1970s remodel.

Powell feels that a drive-in theater offers something that a multi-plex cinema just can't match.

"They range from youngsters with their families, up to high schoolers, and students from OSU and UCO, and we still have the grandmas and grandpas that have a date out," Powell said.

The Beacon's original projector is from the 1940s, and updated with a 1980s lamphouse.  It runs on a 1980s automation system. The projection room becomes an attraction itself on some nights.

Powell's had plenty of opportunities to sell the Beacon, but doubts he ever will.  His college-age son is interested in running the historic drive-in, Powell said.

He also feels that the Beacon serves an important role in Oklahoma's history.

"I think the need, or the desire -- that people want to get out and still do stuff like this will always be there,"  Powell said.