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. 

Share: