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March 15, 2006

The Chief Drive in theatre was located on farmland now occupied by the Verl Brorsen. This photo probably was made in the 1940's, when construction on the theatre was completed. The Chief was dismantled when customers stopped coming.

When your perspective is clouded by distance, it's easy to say: "Chin up, all is well." The hard part comes when reality sets in and you realize the pain is not a dream, but harsh and true. Look for consolation where misery has visited sometime in the past. Your Heavenly Father knows all about this, too and He can bring relief. Above all, remember that this moment will go away. This is easy to say now, but those who have been previously afflicted can affirm the truth. Be brave, and pray for a better tomorrow.

The photo that comes with today's column shows that magnificent structure, the Chief Drive-In Theatre, as it appeared north of town, just a few feet off U.S. 77, the main highway for north-south travel before the Interstate system was built.

The Chief, like all of its counterparts everywhere, symbolized a new way of living, a new philosophy for America. Bobby soxers were in, rock 'n' roll was becoming the music of America's young folks, and indoor movies were dimmed. The Terry family saw it coming, and the McKennas, new owners of the Roxy and Annex Theatres also had a notion of what was going to happen. The Roxy was closed, the Perry Theatre was put in use, and eventually both the Roxy and Annex were closed. Perry has not been quite the same since then.

Nowadays, drive-in movies are pretty much passe. The old drive-ins just do not exist, and big movie palaces are found in shopping malls, rarely as freestanding edifices as we used to know them. That is a shame, but it is also a fact of life. We will have more on the movies and the businesses that once pulsated on the south side of the Perry courthouse square as time goes by.