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A very good shot of the Surf Drive-in marquee can be seen in this video of Hurricane Celia from 1970. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D45-MPJKNU&feature=related It’s at the 19:56 point of the movie. The Surf’s screen was completely destroyed by the hurricane, and someone with a sense of humor put on the marquee “GONE WITH THE WIND”. It took quite a while for the Surf to make a comeback. Destroyed Aug 3, 1970; re-opended Nov 24, 1971. A link to some aerials and newspaper ads https://picasaweb.google.com/114660070182931171464/CorpusChristiSurfDriveIn?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCIXCo6-SiPXQYw&feat=directlink
Thank you. I’m not sure how to contact you. I can be reached at
More info to come.
Why did it close so early? I know it survived Hurricane Beulah in Sep 1967, and around that time Corpus Christi Theaters (United Artists) tried to permit the addition of a second screen. There was certianly room on the large property. It was very close to an Elementary School and a new Junior High was opening nearby at that same time. Maybe they saw the writing on the wall because they closed after August 1968. It sat unused until Hurricane Celia destroyed it in Aug 1970. Pieces of the screen came flying at our house (two blocks away) throughout the storm.
Some images, ads and articles.
I’m making an assumption that what looks like drive-in scars in the 1956 aerial is in fact 9 year old remnants of a this short-lived drive-in. I have not been able to verify. I see no other likely drive-in location on or near Cuddihy field.
Here are some aerial images, newspaper ads and a bit of history for the Surf.
Our home movies of the aftermath of Hurricane Celia in 1970. At 4:23 one can briefly see the remnants of the marquee for The Lexington Drive-in. It was already closed by 1970, but was still standing…..until Hurricane Celia ripped the screen to shreds and sent the debris piece-by-piece towards our house which was 2 blocks away. Scary storm.
At 1:45 into the video one can briefly see the marquee for The Surf Drive-in on Ayers. Some clever person had put “Gone With The Wind” on the marquee.
Same video at 4:23 one can briefly see the remnants of the marquee for The Lexington Drive-in.
One of our city’s first Walmarts was built next to the drive-in site in 1982, perhaps encroaching a little on the widest part of the drive-in parking. The projection booth site is still visible in an undeveloped field next to the old Walmart building. The Walmart became a large Telemarketer building for a while and is now headquarters for the Stripes convenience store chain (owned by Susser). An office/retail/warehouse plaza was built on the screen end of the drive-in in 1979. If memory serves me correct, they tore down the screen and marquee at that time.
One can briefly see the marquee in our home movies of Hurricane Celia here…..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCZUCJMiZvA at 1:45 into the video.
A few more articles added.
The Viking Twin Drive-in opened Aug 11, 1957 at 5333 Ayers St, Corpus Christi, TX 78415 by Johnny Blocker who also opened The Twin Palms and The Surf. It was the last drive-in to be constructed in Corpus Christi. It held 1400 cars, 700 on each screen, although the grand opening article said it had speakers for 2000 cars and additional seating for 500 patrons. It was also operated by Rowley United and United Artists over the years. It closed in 1981.
Links to articles and photos to come……….
Address: 5200 Leopard St (formerly SH 9) | Capacity: 200 cars | Opened: Sunday Nov 12, 1939 | First Feature: “East Side of Heaven” (7 April 1939) starring Bing Crosby, Joan Blondell | Owner / Builder: Lone Star Amusement aka Southwest Theaters – CA Richter, Leon Newman, Nick & Pete Katsaris | Closed: Friday Nov 5, 1948 (Last ad in Caller) | Currently (2010): Corpus Christi Greyhound Racetrack kennels, Sico White & Braugh Warehouse | The first permanent drive-in in Texas and one of the earliest in the country. It is often incorrectly stated that it opened March 1939. Richter & Newman opened The Boulevard Drive-in Feb 1942 on Lexington Ave (S.P.I.D. at Richter) where the Trade Center sits today. By 1948, the wooden Texas was rotting so a replacement (The Corpus) was built a few blocks closer to town on Leopard (SH 9), and would someday be known as The Thunderbird Drive-in.
The Surf was heavily damaged by Hurricane Celia in August of 1970. Someone quickly added ‘Gone With The WInd’ to the marquee.
A link to more info with photos and articles to come……….
Address: 4841 Staples at Everhart (4801 S. Staples today) | Capacity: 550 cars | Opened: Thursday Mar 16, 1951 | First Feature: “Frenchie” starring Joel McCrea, Shelley Winters | Owner / Builder: Chester Kyle and Lester Miller | Closed: Monday Sep 5, 1960 (Last ad in Caller) | Currently (2010): Frost Bank and BMW of Corpus Christi | Chester Kyle was part owner of the Kinsgville drive-ins with a different partner. He opened this drive-in in Mar 1951 and surprisingly sold out to Corpus Christi Theaters a little more than 6 months later. This would be the first drive-in for CC Theaters who held all of the many indoor theaters in Corpus. They closed down for several weeks in the Spring of 1952 while they remodeled and upgraded this very new theater adding a train track around the perimeter for their new attraction, a replica of the Missouri-Pacific streamliner “The Texas Eagle”. The ad logo changed from the Indian Chief’s head to The Texas Eagle Train. The grand re-opening was May 8, 1952.
Address: 6202 Lexington Ave (currently S.P.I.D.) | Capacity: 750 cars | Opened as Bel-Aire Drive-in: Wednesday Dec 15, 1954 | Opened as 62nd and Lexington: Sunday Oct 21, 1956 | Opened as Capri at 62nd & Lexington: Sunday Jul 23, 1961 | Opened as Lexington: Friday Jan 4, 1963 | Owner / Builder: Chester W Kyle, Fred Latham, Lewis Maples | Other operators: Mr.&Mrs. Herman Gould, Al-Ray Theaters, Crim-Hartgrove Theaters, Corpus Christi Theaters | Closed: Stopped advertising in paper August 1968 | Currently (2010): Champion Ford Mazda |
Here are images and articles for The Boulevard.
The Boulevard actually opened in early 1942 right after the beginning of WWII. It suffered the common ‘blackouts’ that drive-ins adhered to to prevent enemy bombings or spyings at night.
Address: 2801 Lexington Ave (S.P.I.D.) | Capacity: 300 cars | Opened: Thursday Feb 5, 1942 | First Feature: “My Life With Caroline” (1 August 1941) starring Ronald Colman, Anna Lee | Owner / Builder: Lone Star Amusement aka Southwest Theaters – CA Richter, Leon Newman | Closed: Sunday Jul 16, 1961 (Last ad in Caller) | Currently (2010): Corpus Christi Trade Center (formerly GMC Membership Store opening Dec 1, 1961 and later a Shopper’s World)
The oroginal projection booth and concession stand and the offices that were headquarters for Doc Richter are still standing in the parking lot of the Trade Center. I believe they are being used as an auto shop.
I have updated my Corpus Drive-in aka Thunderbird Drive-in link with an artcile about the re-opening as Thunderbird in 1967. Johnny Blocker purchased and refurbished the old Corpus Drive-in theater and re-christened it Thunderbird Drive-in for it’s Oct 1, 1967 grand opening. The Corpus had stopped advertising in 1958. It could have possibly continued Spanish language films after 1958, but the local papers did not advertise the Spanish language drive-ins until the sometime in the 1960s.
Here are some ads and the Google imagery for the Cuddihy.
I have similar links and detailed information for each of the Corpus Christi drive-ins and several more surrounding area drive-ins. I just haven’t had time lately to play with this hobby.
The Cuddihy Drive-in Theatre had it’s grand opening August 30, 1947 screening ‘Frontier Gal’ per an ad in the local Corpus Christi Caller Times. It’s ads in the local paper didn’t last too long, stopping by Nov 11, 1947. The ads said that it was at Cuddihy Field. I can’t find evidence that it was actually part of Cuddihy Field, but a drive-in scar can be detected near the Air Field in 1956 Google Earth imagery at 27Â°43'28.08"N 97Â°29'41.19"W. The fall of 1947 corresponds to a time when this WWII Navy air-field was turned over to the city and was being transformed for other uses. The very first University of Corpus Christi campus opened there at the same time, but it didn’t last too long at that location either.
The Boulevard was at SPID (Lexington and Richter)
The Lexington (aka 62nd at Lexington, aka Capri, aka Bel-aire) was at 6210 SPID (Lexington)
Osage was indeed Staples at Everhart,which at the time was 4841 Staples
The Texas and The Corpus (Thunderbird) were on Leopard not Leonard
There was also a Cuddihy Drive-In out near Cuddihy Field.
Some pictures and ads….
Check the link later for more details to come.
One needs to be careful about judging the car capacity from press releases. They seem to always overstate the car capcity or size…..perhaps to gain an edge with the movie bookers representing them in Dallas, or maybe just to sound more impressive to the public. The Motion Picture Almanacs and the International Motion Picture Almanacs of the time consistently ranked the Kingsville drive-ins as:
King’s – 300
Rancho – 300
Brahma – 250
HiWay – 250 or 300
I’m not saying that was the gospel, but the press numbers are usually considerably higher than other sources.