Skyway Drive-In

2879 Maysville Pike,
Zanesville, OH 43701

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Skyway Drive-In

The last Zanesville, OH, drive-in theatre to open was the Skyway Drive-In which opened on June 4, 1949, screening the 1948 musical “Give My Regards to Old Broadway” with Dan Dailey, Charles Winninger and Nancy Guild. The Skyway Drive-In was opened by Chester E. Huprich and Roy W. Waller. They were also operating the Old Trail Drive-In at this time. When they opened the Skyway Drive-In, Huprich become the manager for the Skyway Drive-In and Waller continued operating the Old Trail Drive-In until they closed it in 1953. The car capacity was 650 cars with illuminated in-a-car speakers and RCA sound system. In 1950, Huprich and Waller started to develop the property around their drive-in. It was called the Sky-Way Manor located off Pinkerton Lane. They platted 24 building lots and a street that was called Cinema Avenue. Hubrich’s sister and brother-in-law, Anthony and Frances LaMonica joined them in 1959. They operated the concession stand and organized a partnership in 1960 when Waller sold out his interest in the theatre to Anthony and Frances LaMonica.

In the early-1970’s Selected Theatres from Cleveland, OH, took over the operation of the Skyway Drive-In along with operating the Maple Drive-In. They will run into problems down the road because the screen tower faced towards the high school which was not there when the drive-in was built. During nighttime football games you see the R and X rated movies on the screen. Chester E. Huprich died on December 15, 1975, which left his wife Helen Huprich, in partnership of the theatre now along with Tony LaMonica and his wife Frances LaMonica. The screen tower burnt down on June 25, 1975. It was rebuilt and the drive-in reopened on July 9, 1975. On May 19, 1978, the Skyway Drive-In reopened as a twin drive-in.

In November of 1978, Sheriff Bernise Gibson office received calls about the Skyway Drive-In exhibiting films harmful to juveniles. Sheriff Gibson went and screened the “R” rated films. So Roger, Harold and Lande Angles, employees of the Skyway Drive-In were arrested and charged with pandering obscenity and the films were confiscated. Eventually the charges were dropped by Judge Thomas Payne who granted a defense motion to suppress the films because they were seized illegally without a search warrant. In March of 1979, a $1.5 million damage suit had been filed by the drive-in owners and Selected Theatres. There suit claims the lawmen went to the theatre for the purpose of surveillance and while there harassed the patrons as well as the employees and threatened to make future arrests if the obscene movies continued to be shown. The case was settled out of court for a lot less than the $1.5 million.

In October of 1979, the county prosecuting attorney filed a complaint in Muskingum County Common Pleas Court asking that the Maple Drive-In and Skyway Drive-In be declared public nuisances. The county prosecutor Richard E. Bridwell accusing both drive-ins of screening “R” and “X” movies that was visible to the residents and the general public. The defendants for the Maple Drive-In were Harry F. Boedecker, owner, and the defendants for the Skyway Drive-In were Helen L. Huprich, Anthony and Frances L. LaMonica owners. Included in the complaint was the lessee of both drive-in theatres, Selected Theatres Co. (dba Nancee Drive-In Inc.). Roger Angles was supervising manager for both theatres and Jay M. Schultz of Selected Theatres Management Corp.

Bridwell alleges that the displays of obscene motion pictures at the Skyway Drive-In are clearly visible from Maysville High School at night during football games and other night time school activities. He also cites examples of juveniles with the confines of the Skyway Drive-In during the screening of “R” and “X” rated films being apprehended by the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Department. He also asked that a preliminary injunction be issued restraining the defendants from showing the alleged obscene films and take adequate safeguards to use some type of barrier that will prohibit persons outside the theatres from viewing the films. In July of 1980, the charges were dropped by Muskingum County Common Pleas Judge J. Lincoln Knapp. The films in question that were seized at that time had not been established that the films were obscene to begin with.

In 1982, Selected Theatres sold off all of their theatre properties and got out of the theatre business. The Maple Drive-In and Skyway Drive-In were leased out to Steve Prince (dba Royal Entertainment Inc.) (REI). Roger Angles was named the manager for both theatres. Angles said the goal of the new ownership is to bring families back to the drive-ins. Angles said G, PG, and R-rated films will be screened at the theaters adding that the R-rated films shown will not be of a pornographic nature. REI is planning of operating the concession stand in house. Selected Theatres always contracted out the operating of their concession stands. Unfortunately the drive-in business did not pick up and the Skyway Drive-In screened its last movie on September 30, 1984. The drive-in was demolished and the property was sold. It is now called Sky Way Park Inc. Fink’s Southside Collision and Custom Vans are the tenants now.

Contributed by Randy Studer
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