Slobot About Town CXXI:

Previous Episode
Next Episode

Slobot goes to the Drive-In, pt. 02!

Slobot was hanging out by the Skate Palace...

when his thoughts drifted to drive-ins.

It was then that Slobot realized that he was but a short stroll from the former site of the late Pine Street Extension Drive-In.

The Pine Street Extension Drive-In opened on Wednesday May 23, 1951 with a showing of Drums (AKA "The Drum"), a 1938 Technicolor film from the UK. In 1974 the drive-in would become the Pine Street Outdoor Cinema. Then, in 1980, the bell would toll for the Pine Street Outdoor Cinema.

Another drive-in of yore was the Camelot Drive-In. The Camelot once resided on a lot now occupied by the UPS Customer Center.

The Camelot Drive-In began life in April of 1952 as the Roxy Drive-In. At opening the theater was a colored one, segregation being not only the norm but the law.

Over the ensuing years the theater would go by a variety of names. By 1953 the theater had become the Fox Drive-In, by 1975 it had become the Royal Radio Drive-In, by 1976 it had become the Tomcat Drive-In and, in April of 1977, it would close and then reopen as the Camelot Drive-In. Opening night of the Camelot would feature three films, Crash, Born Losers and Easy Rider. Though the theater had been known by many names, it was with the Camelot name that it would close in September of 1984.

From Howard Street Slobot made his way west. There he found the Oak Forest Plaza and its anchor store, Bi-Lo. This lot, however, was once home to the Circle Drive-In.

The Circle Drive-In would open Friday June 27, 1969 with the screening of two Paul Newman films, Cool Hand Luke and Harper. The Circle would be the last drive-in to open in Spartanburg County. On September 9, 1978 the Circle would be renamed the West-View Drive-In. The West-View would close in October of 1982.

While the last of Spartanburg's drive-ins was the Circle, the first of the Spartanburg drive-ins was the South 29 Drive-in, which would open in 1947.

It was the beginning of a new era, an era that would not come to a halt in Spartanburg until July of 1985, when the last drive-in film was screened in Spartanburg. On December 13, 1949 the drive-in became known as the Scenic Drive-In.

In 1970 the Scenic Drive-in would close. New management, Piedmont Productions, had already opened the Circle Drive-In on June 27, 1969. Piedmont Productions would reopen the Scenic Drive-In as the Circle South 29 Drive-In.

It would be a sad era in the drive-in's existence. Piedmont Productions began running pseudo-documentary white-coater pornography like 101 Acts of Love. That film and its screening in 1971 would result in the arrest and conviction of Robert H. Williams for the crime of exhibiting an obscene film.

Saturday April 24, 1971 - notice that there is no ad for the films at South 29 Drive-In Theatre.

On that night Lt. Andrew Hughes of the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Department viewed 101 Acts of Love at the South 29 Drive-In.

Robert H. Williams, manager of the South 29 Drive-In, was subsequently arrested for violation of the South Carolina Obscenity Law (Sec. 16-414.1 and Sec. 16-414.9).

On Tuesday June 22, 1971 a 12-member jury met at the Pinewood Cinema in the Pinewood Shopping Center to watch 101 Acts of Love.

The State called witnesses Dr. J. Roderick Hallum, a psychologist; Dr. J. C. Hedden, medical director for the Spartanburg County Health Department; John Stoner, health director for the Spartanburg County Health Department; and the Reverend Grady Bridwell, pastor of Westside Baptist Church.

After 2 hours of deliberation, the jury delivered a guilty verdict to Judge Wade S. Weatherford.

Weatherford then sentenced Robert H. Williams to one year imprisonment and a fine of $1000, provided that upon service of six months imprisonment or payment of a $750 fine, the balance would be suspended with two years of probation.

In his concluding argument Circuit Solicitor John Nolen said, "This is the most important case I've tried since becoming solicitor in 1957. You, ladies and gentlemen, hold the key in this case. This film is so degrading that its message will destroy us all."

Re-re-opening on June 25, 1971, the theater would no longer run adult fare.

At some point the theater would become the South 29 Drive-In.

It would be with that name that the theatre would close in November of 1984.

The last drive-in movie screened in Spartanburg County was shown in July of 1985.

Slobot loved the derelict apartment beneath the screen of the old South 29 Drive-In.

Slobot would like to thank Spartanburg Magazine, and YOU!