Forget babysitters! Save the cost. Bring the kids. They can’t disturb anyone.

Smoke if you like! No restrictions!

Don’t dress up! Come as you are – no one sees you.

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Is this heaven?”

No, it’s Arkansas, more specifically the Ozark Drive In, and those were touted features in an ad for the movie venue that opened in Harrison on May 18, 1950.

The Ozark Drive In was located just west of Harrison on Highway 62/65. The Harrison Daily Times, in a story about the grand opening, crowed that “Showgoers of Harrison and surrounding territories can now enjoy their movies under the stars.”

The drive in employed full-time about 15 people, and Frank Jones served as the manager. In a photo accompanying the story, Jones is shown handing a loudspeaker to Harrison city manager Doyle Branscum.

Opening night at the Ozark Drive In featured a fireworks display, as well as prizes given to the oldest lady in attendance, the oldest model car in attendance and the car with the most people in it.

During the opening week at the theater, a spotlight played in the air above the screen. The Daily Times described it “such as used by the army during the war to spot enemy aircraft.” Jones joked that he hoped people wouldn’t think the beam of light was a flying saucer.

A children’s playground, complete with slides and swings, was built beneath the screen tower. There was also a horseshoe pitching area “for dad and big brother to have fun, too.”

The Ozark Drive In had 300 of the highest quality speakers for cars, but for those who wished to sit outside, there was a patio area with seats. A snack bar served all kinds of treats.

The first movie shown at the Ozark Drive In was “Return of October,” starring Glenn Ford and Terry Moore. The Daily Times described it as a “romantic comedy that every member of the family will thoroughly enjoy.” Jones announced that there would be four changes of shows weekly, and there would be at least one color cartoon.

Jones urged people to bring the whole family – from the youngest to the oldest – to the drive in.

“Oh, yes, we didn’t forget new babies either,” Jones said, as he scurried about making sure every detail on opening night was in order. “They can attend whether feeding time comes during the show or not, for in our snack bar we have a free bottle warming service for baby!”

The Daily Times was very complimentary in its report of the theater.

“All your reporter can say is, ‘Quite a place, this Ozark Drive In Theater!”

This is article is part of a series about Boone County history and provided by the Boone County Heritage Museum. The museum is located at 124 South Cherry in Harrison. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Closed on Sunday and Wednesday. For more information on the museum, call 741-3312 or email

(1) comment


This article brings back a lot of memories. Saturday evening get the kids ready and in the car complete with home made popcorn and other snacks if the weather didn't permit a trip to the concession stand also if you arrived before dark they had a real pony ride. in the 60's Bill Coker was the manager and he made sure that all the rules were followed and to made sure that all the speakers were returned to their stand and were not taken. Lots of pleasant memories. I enjoy reading David Holsted's weekly column keep up the good work

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.