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The Silvermoon Drive-In, Part 2

Fiction By July 13, 2017 Tags:

The Silvermoon Drive-In: An Oral History

An email from William (“Bill”) Barry, friend of Robert (“Bobby”) Nowicki, co-owner of the Silvermoon Drive-In from 1993 until it’s closure in 2006.

Jess,

Your mom tells me you’re working on some kind of history report on the Silvermoon for a class you’re taking at PSU. [Material removed]. You want to know what I remember Bobby saying about the drive-in, right? I don’t remember much, but okay.

Bobby had some kind of unusual financial arrangement with Dan Novak, that much I do remember. I think Dan saw the writing on the wall and was happy to unload the place. Anyway, Bobby was still teaching when he first took over operations.

Interviewer’s Note: Bobby Novak worked at Amhurst Junior High School as a social studies teacher for 23 years. He served as general manager of the Silvermoon for two summers as a part-owner during his last two years of employment as a teacher before taking full ownership of the theater.

He took an early retirement from the school as soon as they put one on the table. He used the lump sum he got to finish paying off Dan. Doreen didn’t like that, but she went along. That drive-in was Bobby’s dream and he was happy for a few years. They made some improvements to the place. It did okay for what it was, but nobody was getting rich off a drive-in theater by then, if they ever did.

You asked about Connie, too, and I have even less to say about him. He was a weird old guy and he never fit in and he never tried. Something about him bothered me from the get-go, but he always did right by Bobby and Doreen, as far as I know.

-Bill

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The Silvermoon Drive-In, Part 1

Fiction By July 13, 2017 Tags:

The Silvermoon Drive-In: An Oral History

Partial transcript of an interview with Doreen Nowicki, co-owner of the Silvermoon Drive-In from 1993 until it’s closure in 2006.

Doreen:
So, let me see here. What can I say about Con?

Interviewer:
Other than the black suit?

[Laughter]

Doreen:
Yeah, yeah, the suit. [Pause]. It was blue, actually. Not that it matters at all. But everyone thought it was black because they only saw it at night. But it was a real dark blue.

And I remember because he wore it when he come in for the interview. And I remember thinking, that’s a little, uh, overdone for an interview for a projectionist, you know.

Um. So, I was surprised when he wore it to work.

Interviewer:
And then he wore it every night?

Doreen:
Oh yeah, every night.

Interviewer:
Do you know why?

Doreen:
Um. Well, I never asked him, but. [Pause]. He was just so serious all the time, you know? About everything.

Interviewer:
So, he didn’t laugh or joke around?

Doreen:
No, no, no. I don’t mean like that. He had a good sense of humor once you got to know him . Real dry. [Pause].

But, I guess I just mean, he took what he was doing seriously. He treated it like it was real important, even if it was, like, the dumbest movie you ever saw.

Interviewer:
Did he have a day job somewhere?

Doreen:
Not that I know of, nope.

Interviewer:
Then how did he make ends meet? I mean, I assume he wasn’t making enough at the drive-in…

Doreen:
Nah, what we paid him couldn’ta been enough. Must’ve had some other money. He did live pretty cheap, though. Lived above the B&T the whole time I knew him.

Interviewer’s Note: The “B&T” was the Black and Tan Club, now called the Market Street Pub, located at 430 Market St., Amhurst, PA.

Interviewer:
So…

Doreen:
I’m not so nebby that I woulda asked him about that. He musta had money from somewhere. Saved up maybe, or a settlement from something. Who knows?

He’s still wearing that suit, you know.

Interviewer:
What?

Doreen:
They buried him in that suit, I mean.

Weren’t only a few of us at the funeral. Me, Robbie, some kids who were working for us then, and some guy named Howard. Don’t remember that guy’s last name, but I remember he was a Howard because who the hell is named Howard and doesn’t go by Howie or something, right?

Interviewer:
How did Howard know Connie?

Doreen:
Said he used to work with Connie on some projects. Well, he called Connie “Conrad,” cause acourse a “Howard” would have to call Connie “Conrad,” right?

[Laughter]

Interviewer:
Projects?

Doreen:
That’s all he said and I didn’t ask nothing else, not being a nebshit.

Interviewer:
So you closed right after?

Doreen:
No, we finished the summer out. Mr. McKay of all people came in and ran the projector for those last two weekends.

Interviewer:
Mr. McKay? The funeral director? That Mr. McKay?

Doreen:
Yup. Got to talkin’ to him at the viewing and turns out he worked at the Silver when he was a kid, when Novak had the place. Asked if it was the same projector, and I said I thought it was, and so he said he’d help us out and that it might be fun.

He didn’t wear no suit, though. [Laughter]. Guess he figured he had to wear a suit enough as it was.

Interviewer:
So that was it? Did you know that was going to be the last summer?

Doreen:
We weren’t a hundred percent certain, but it seemed likely.

Interviewer:
Can I ask why?

Doreen:
Lotsa reasons. It was hard to keep it going, moneywise. Me and Robbie was fighting a lot about money by then. Fighting about lotsa things, really, but I guess that’s not what you’re after here, with this interview. [Pause]. But that’s how it was.

We couldn’t keep ourselves together so, we sure as hell–can I swear on this thing?

Interviewer:
Sure.

Doreen:
So we couldn’t keep our marriage together so we sure as hell couldn’t keep the business going together. And then along comes Rite-Drug with a big fat check right after and that was that.

Interviewer’s Note: Rite-Drug bought the property of the Silvermoon Drive-in in November of 2006. The theater was torn down and a Rite-Drug retail location was built on the property. The Silvermoon’s original neon sign was bought and preserved by the Amhurst Historical Society. It can be seen at 1235, Route 56, Amhurst, PA. 

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