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The Joy Drive-In opened in 1950, per a note in the July 22, 1950 issue of BoxOffice: “Mr. and Mrs. M. B. Barrow … have opened the new Joy Drive-In on Highway 281 outside the city limits. The new drive-in has a capacity for only 42 cars”.
The Billboard of September 26, 1953 gave us the owner’s first name. “Martin Barrow has taken over operation of the Jaycee Theater, Johnson City, TX. … Barlow owns and operates the Joy Drive-In, Johnson City”.
The 1952 Theatre Catalog listed the Joy Drive-In, owner H. B. Barrow, with a capacity of 460. By the 1955-56 edition, the Catalog corrected that number to 44.
The first appearance of the Joy Drive-In in the Motion Picture Almanac wasn’t until the 1960 edition, where it said the Joy Drive-In held 30 cars. That changed to 300 in the 1963 edition, and the MPA continued to list the Joy Drive-In with a capacity of 300 though its final appearance in the 1976 edition.
My guess of 521 US-281 for the address is based on the BoxOffice description and a 1966 aerial photo, but it’s not easy to spot a drive-in that held fewer than 50 cars. A 7-Eleven occupies that site now.
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