Our Visit: January 2014
On a day off in January 2014, Dan and I took a road trip north to try and find a few drive-ins. Our luck was high, because we were able to visit 2 former drive-in sites. The Shore Drive-In and Fly-In Drive-In were 4.4 miles apart on Rt. 34 in Wall Township.
The downfall of our visit was that it had snowed prior to our visit, making it difficult to capture pictures of what remained for the Shore Drive-In. The site is not easily accessible, especially in the snow.
There are many speaker poles remaining, outlining the parking spaces and lanes for driving.
In addition to the speaker poles, there were two building remains. It is hard to ascertain the buildings’ purposes from my memory (2 years ago!) and the snow. I believe the red bricks were from the projection booth. The other I am not so sure…
On May 12, 1948, the Shore Drive-In of Farmingdale*, NJ opened with the support and praise of various local businesses and residents. The Asbury Park Press newspaper (May 11, 1948) is littered with advertisements congratulating the Eastern Drive In Theatre Corporation on the opening of the Shore Drive-In. Supporters included Bell Supply Co, Drive-In Refreshments, Thomas Nicol Co, Jersey State Electric, Franklin Engineering, Monmouth Lumber Co, Anchor Post Fence Co, and many more.
Most notable was the support and recognition from the Park-In Theatre Company. The Park-In Theatre Company was Hollinghead’s company, the original creator of the Drive-In Theater. The Shore Drive-In was covered and license under the Hollingshead Patent for drive-ins.
Some interesting features for this drive-in included complementary bottle warming for mothers with young babies, in addition to the usual amenities offered by drive-ins.
Research of Eastern Drive In Theatre Corporation and James J. Thompson (owner) led to very little, except that they owned and operated several other NJ drive-ins including the Union DI (where the original moved after 3 years), Morris Plains DI and Totowa DI. However, the corporation and drive-in search did connect to Wilfred P. Smith.
Wilfred P. Smith was the general manager for Eastern Drive-In Corporation through 1950, having a hand in all of the beginning drive-ins in New Jersey, including the Shore Drive-In. He obviously took pride in the presentation and reputation of the drive-in, for he is quoted saying they were “striving for another NJ State Garden Club award such as was presented to our Union Drive-In Theater last year for landscaping, beauty, safety and civic achievement for a business enterprise along a main highway” (Asbury Park Press, 1948).
Smith left Eastern Drive-In Corporation to open his own drive-in in Ledgewood, and subsequently the Newton Drive-In. Although I was unable to find a lot of history on the Shore Drive-In, I was excited to be introduced to Wilfred P. Smith and his pioneering efforts. Hopefully he enjoyed the retired life, and his memory will live on in the drive-in world.
The Shore Drive-In closed sometime after 1979. The screen was demolished in 2001.
Some more great photos: http://drive-ins.com/gallery/njtshor/shore-drive-in-theater-farmingdale-nj
*Depending on where you get your information, the Shore Drive-In may be listed as Collingwood Park, Wall Township, or Farmingdale. It was near Asbury Park, but not in that town.