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Friday, March 9, 2012

Hollywood Drive-In Theatre

9254 Rt 66 - Averill Park
Remember these? Some still exist. I drove by the Hollywood Drive-In Theatre in Averill Park the other day. Initially, it was there billboard with the message "Help Someone" (nice!) that caught my eye. Then the retro memories.  Here's the interesting history of this theatre from their website:

The Hollywood Drive-In Theater (TM) is located on Route 66 just eight miles outside of Troy, N.Y. The Theater was built in 1952 by the late James Fisher who oversaw the operation for the next sixteen years. In the beginning he, his wife Beatrice and son Frank kept the theater open year round. It ran seven nights a week in the spring and summer months and on weekends September through May. For the colder weather the theater offered heaters for the cars at no charge. The heaters plugged into the side of the speaker pole you were parked next to. The poles in the drive ins you see today are mostly bare but in the beginning a car would park on either side of the pole which hung two speakers. You took these speakers and hung them on the side of your window for the picture's sound. Some theaters still have a few speakers in use but most have gone to transmitting the sound over radio waves. In its era the speakers were considered high quality sound but became outdated with newer hi-tech innovations. Today you turn your car onto auxiliary and tune in your cars radio. With some of the stereos in cars today you will experience a sound as good if not better than the indoor theaters.

In 1968 I took over the business from my father and still enjoy running it to this day. I learned everything from the projectors to the concessions when I was just a teenager working with my father and through trial and error and have improved the theater tremendously from those early days. The theater began with two pre-1950's carbon arc projectors which held 2000 foot reels. Then came 6000 foot reels and the projectors had to be reconditioned to handle the larger reels. Now the projectors have been changed to Xenon (zee-on) which gives off a more brilliant light, in return the picture is crisper, clearer and brighter. A platter system has also been installed which allows the film to run continuously with not having to switch from one projector to the next. The chance of the picture going off the screen because of error is non- existent, and there's no need for a projectionist. At the Hollywood Drive-In (TM) the movie is projected onto a 36'h x 88'w screen for all patrons to enjoy. In 1952 the theater held 250 cars but has expanded over the years and now can accommodate approximately 400 cars.

At the Hollywood Drive-In (TM) we have a newly remodeled concession building and have an expanded menu to suit everyone's palette. The full service concession stand offers the traditional fare which includes everything from fresh homemade pizza which you can order by the slice or the whole pie, cooked to order hamburgers, hot dogs and fries to the old time favorites of popcorn, candy and soda. Additionally the snack bar offers hot pretzels, nachos and a variety of other foods and snacks. The popcorn boxes are randomly stuffed with free passes into the drive in and on Friday and Saturday evenings we have Drive In Trivia which if you bring your correct answer to the concession building you could win large sodas, large buttered popcorns or even season passes.

The Hollywood Drive-In (TM) has been in business for 60 years and over the years has seen many changes. We have always maintained that having fun is what a drive-in is all about. We offer a neat and clean facility with a freshly mowed parking area. At the Hollywood Drive-In (TM) you will find a well trained staff ready to serve you and a relaxed atmosphere for you and your family to enjoy. So why not stop in,come early to have the best pick of parking. Don't forget, bring your lawn chairs, a beach blanket, even bring Rover. When you get here kick off your shoes, sit back, relax and re-visit a part of an era past or introduce your children to one of the many pleasures of your childhood.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How Tall are Eastern Hemlocks?

Eastern Hemlock approx. 60' - Taconic Lake, Town of Grafton
Eastern Hemlocks define the Rensselaer Plateau. I was gazing at our hemlocks the other day and just in awe at how tall they are. I tried a method I learned in the boy scouts years ago and quickly learned that the largest ones are in the neighborhood of 60 feet, with most around the lake running 40-60'. The tallest hemlock on record is 173 feet high.

These magnificent trees are at risk. In the Appalachian mountains, the introduced Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid) has been decimating populations of Eastern Hemlock. See a posting from last year, Hemlock Disease, to learn more. And keep an eye out for signs of the Woolly Adelgid since it's of the utmost importance to nip any infestation in the bud. Also, check out the interactive image at Hemlock Diebackin the Smoky Mountains to get a eyeful of the dangerous consequences.

How to Measure a Tree

Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrel


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Corkscrew Railroad

At the edge of the driveway to the Bennington Museum

Inscription
 When wealthy North Bennington resident Trenor Park purchased the Bennington-Rutland Railroad, he found that the railroad "barons" of the Troy and Boston Railroad refused him access to the New York lines. Rather than fight this monopoly, Park built a rail line from Bennington to Lebanon Spring, NY, where he could transfer his trains to southbound rails while bypassing Troy. The dozens of turns over 40 miles of hilly terrain gave this stretch of railroad the name "Corkscrew." Passenger service was canceled in 1931 and the line was officially abandoned in 1953. Remnants of the old rail bed can be seen where it crossed the highway at this point. 

Additional Reading 
Railroads (Stephentown Genealogy.com) 
Corkscrew Recreational Path Feasibility Study