When I was a kid, my Father used to take the family to the Drive In at the edge of town. It was the 42 Drive-In in Brunswick, Ohio, so named because it was on State Route 42. Sometimes we would go to the Pearl Rd. Drive-In in Middleburg Heights and we would purposely try to avoid the Memphis Triple in Cleveland.
Can you find the hidden screen today on the Brunswick-Medina Border?
In 1980, there were just over 2,000 drive-ins in the United States. Today there are only about 350.
All 3 of the drive-ins that our family used to frequent are now closed. The 42 is literally a random screen in a field now. The Pearl Rd. property is unrecognizable, totally demolished and re-utilized as a car dealership in the front and a golf course in the back. And the Memphis? Well, let's talk a bit more about the Memphis.....
As you well know, the Beacon of Speech site is not known for its warm and fuzzy sentimental journeys into the past, and well, today is no different. The Memphis Triple Drive-In was opened back in 1954. According to the website Cinema Treasures.org, capacity at the Memphis Triple was a 1,000 cars and the drive-in was closed in 2006. If you google the Memphis Triple you'll find the Cinema Treasures site has more information than just about anywhere else. Let me tell you the story of Memphis Triple from my perspective.
The Memphis Triple was the drive-in to avoid because it was too far away, all the way up to the border of Cleveland, not to mention the crazy traffic before and after the show, and then the long drive home. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that the Memphis Triple wasn't in Cleveland at all, it was in the cozy little suburb of Brooklyn, Ohio.
In my 30's, I worked as a contractor for American Greetings.com. So once a week I would pull down the street to the corporate headquarters and to the right on the main driveway was the Memphis Triple, almost exactly like it was when I was a kid. Time had done nothing but fade the vibrant colors from the memories in my mind.
Invariably, I would chit chat with the customers at American Greetings and every time I would mention how cool it would be to work next to the drive-in, they, to a man, would bitch about the Memphis Triple as a neighbor. At first I just nodded my head, American Greetings was the customer, so it was not a good idea to contradict them based on my hazy childhood memories. Ultimately, their biggest complaint would be the garbage that would spill onto the American Greetings property. First of all, it's not like they were out there cleaning it up. "Hey Johnson, stop your web designing, we're going to send you outside to clean the lot." And, second of all, I never saw any of this alleged garbage strewn across American Greetings property. I would be at the customer first thing on Monday morning and saw nothing.
After a few years, I started to notice that it probably wasn't the Memphis Triple that was the problem, but the litany of A-Holes who worked at American Greetings between 2000-2005. Fast forward to 2005, and a hot rumor spread across Cleveland Area news sites. The Memphis Triple was being bought by a mystery buyer. Multiple buyers were speculated, but it was IKEA that was identified as the agent in the press. That made no sense to me whatsoever. The site was too small and not easily enough accessed from the highway (again, back to the congestion issue.) After months of speculation, the buyers of the Memphis Triple were identified as.....
American Greetings. They cited expansion, but this is what actually happened. They bought the property and said expansion was coming and the Memphis Triple was unceremoniously closed, and then bulldozed. American Greetings then changed their minds and then said that instead expansion, they would build a park. Then they didn't build a park, they simply let grass grow where the Memphis Triple once lay and built a path around it. The lies were spread by the litany of A-Holes who ran American Greetings between 2005-2010.
Then, with a field next to the Corporate Headquarters, the fine stewards of the community then attempted to leverage the city leaders of Brooklyn for a better tax deal in order to stay in the city. Brooklyn tried, but from 2010-2016 American Greetings was run by a litany of Greedy A-Holes who decided to bolt from the city and set up a new Corporate Headquarters in Westlake, Ohio, less than a half an hour drive down the highway. Their new state of the art headquarters...to sell Greetings Cards. Let me ask you, the reader, when is the last time you received a Greetings Card, in the mail, from anyone under 50? You can jam as many cities as you want, but I don't anticipate any surges in card sales anytime soon as you jack up the price of cards to deflect a decline in card sales . So to you, American Greetings, enjoy your shiny new building in Westlake before YOU go the way of the newspaper, the video store, or the drive-in.
...and that's what happened to the Memphis Triple.
We are very lucky today that our family lives near the Aut-O-Rama Drive-In in North Ridgeville, Ohio. A few times a year I like to take the family out to local drive-in, just like my Dad did before me. The Aut-O-Rama caters to young and old movie fans alike. Usually one screen shows an R-rated movie and the other shows a family flick. Being a third generation family run business in Lorain County, you should check out their website below for yourselves:
If you are looking for a nice night of family nostalgia, I personally recommend the Aut-O-Rama.