King Cotton Drive-In
14120 E. Wade Hampton Boulevard,
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The King Cotton Drive-In opened July 3, 1950 featuring “The Stratton Story” with James Stewart, June Allison and Frank Morgan. The parking ramp was advertised as being fully paved and had a car capacity of 250 cars. It was owned by Nicholas E. Belmont. Belmont also owned the Pine Street Extension Drive-In, in Spartanburg, SC and the Belmont Drive-In, in Greenville, SC. In May of 1962, Stewart-Everett Theaters based in Charlotte, NC took over the operation of the drive-in.
Don Fortner remembers, “In 1962 I began working for Stewart-Everett Theaters based in Charlotte, NC. I began working at their Greer Theater in downtown Greer, SC and the King Cotton Drive-In on the outskirts of the city. My main job initially was usher then concession attendant. I would get out of school and walk to the downtown Greer Theater, work several hours there then the boss would drive me out to open the King Cotton Drive-In. I operated the concession stand there until closing it during the last show of the night. I learned to operate the carbon arc projectors when things got slow. After a few months I was promoted to Assistant Manager and took on the responsibility totally for the drive-in. I was seventeen at the time and managed a staff of five or six.”
“The drive-in always had a large crowd on Friday and Saturday night. I would stand outside the concession stand after dark and watch a load of guys get out of the trunk of some cars that had only purchased one or two tickets at the gate. It was always funny to catch these guys. I am sure many sneaked in without a ticket. One more thing I remember is one of the managers decided to run the same movie print at both theaters. The first reel would run downtown and the second reel would be loaded while the first reel was rushed by car to the drive-in and loaded. This swapping continued throughout the evening. Sometimes the twenty minute reel would arrive just in time to load on the projectors. It depended on the traffic rush to get through on time, it was nerve racking but fun”.
I believe the King Cotton Drive-In closed in 1976. It was turned into a flea market and later on a car lot. Any pictures and other information would be great!
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