The Buckhorn Theater, Alice Texas
In October 2001, the regional band competition was held in Alice, TX. My friend, Rick Stivers, asked me if I would like to go along to see his daughter compete. I agreed to go and suggested we go early enough to find the fabled Buckhorn Theater.
My family actually lived in Alice until I was three and half years old. My mother tells me that we were frequent patrons of the Buckhorn in those days. She remembers cages filled with monkeys which entertained the younger patrons. But when I asked her if she could remember the location of the Buckhorn, her face went blank. The best should could remember was "towards the coast". That wasn't very helpful for planning an expedition.
Research on the internet resulted in either no information being found, or worse, inaccurate information. Even the USGS topographical map for the area is wrong. Well, it is wrong unless Alice actually had two drive-in theaters!
We searched the area indicated by the USGS topographical map, and the area surrounding that location, for several hours. Rick even had a bizarre encounter with a local when we finally stopped to ask for help. We looked and looked but just couldn't find the Buckhorn.
Giving up, we returned to the stadium at which the band competition was being held. After the competition was over, Rick's wife, Patty, decided she would walk over to the bus area to congratulate her daughter.
She took off at an aggressive pace. Rick and I were tried to keep up with her as best we could. As we reached the bus staging area, we were astounded to see the Buckhorn in the distance. We had found it! Not because of any particular effort or merit on our part. It was just dumb luck.
The following are a selection of pictures Rick and I took that day. The quality of these images ranges from fantastic to horrible. Some pictures have notes below them describing the scene or highlighting points of interest. All images are presented at 100DPI and compressed to a quality level of 80%.
The Buckhorn Theater as seen from the Alice High School parking lot. Hint: The Buckhorn is located midway between the two foreground light poles.
This picture looks into the screen lot from the right side of the screen. The low green building near the center of the picture is the projection booth. The white building on the far right is the concession stand.
Part of the property has been converted to a mini-storage business. The storage buildings are visible behind the concession stand. Rick and I debated how many car rows of the screen lot were lost to the mini-storage. I believe it was at most three rows but more likely just two rows.
The curb on the left side of the picture encloses a semi-circular area in front of the screen. This enclosed area may have been where the playground equipment was located. In the center of the picture are two poles cut off a couple of feet above ground level. I have no idea what purpose they served or if they even belong to the time period the drive-in was open.
In this picture, the camera turns up, and to the left. This is the face of the Buckhorn screen. Moss covers the screen in random patterns.
This picture provides a better view of the screen. Notice that a couple of panels are missing.
This was our first view of the outside of the Buckhorn's screen. As you can see, the property is for sale. Were the movies advertised on this sign?
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