The Joy Drive-In

April 2004

Whenever I start a set of pages for a new drive-in theater, I like to provide a background story to set the scene for the reader.

In this case, I didn't visit the Joy Drive-In.

At first, I was going to leave this section blank until I could get with Rick Stivers. After all, what could I say about a place I've never been? Sure, I could comment on the contents of the pictures. I've done that before with the Skyborn Drive-In. But I made those comments out of necessity, since contacting George Davis is difficult at best.

Given that I communicate with Rick all the time, I saw no reason why I couldn't just wait to write up the commentary with his input. After all, this is his story, not mine.

But if I decided to wait for Rick's input, why are you reading this now?

The answer is simple. I'm sentimental. Looking at these pictures made me feel sad and melancholy. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the Joy deserved more than just a set of pictures. It needed words to be written for it. And more important, it needed them sooner, not later.

But what to write?

I searched for the answer to this question for some time. Then I realized that I had already written something that would make a fine tribute to the Joy and which would also set stage for Rick's story.

When I completed my first draft of these pages, I sent out an e-mail to our drive-in mailing list. You'll find that e-mail below.


"Rick Stivers stopped off in Waco to get these pictures of the dead Joy Drive-In. I've created shell pages with all his pictures. I'm hoping I can get with him to create commentary and to cull out some of the apparently redundant images.

You might want to take a look at the pictures. You can find them at:

Just to set the mood, it was already nearly dusk when Rick made the scene. If the Joy were alive, and open in February, cars would be lining up at the ticket booth waiting to enter the property. The snack bar would be bustling with employees making up the night's tasty treats. The projectionist might well be making one last inspection before the start of the show.

But the Joy isn't open....

Rick did encounter a homeless man, recently released from prison, living in the remains of the ticket booth. Had he returned to the Joy because he had fond memories of it from the past or had he settled there simply because he had no where else to go?

Perhaps Rick's commentary will reveal the answer!"

Terry Moore


Photographed: February 2004
Chronicled: August 2005

I guess its time to write my report on the Joy, although it has been quite some time since I was there. I'll do the best I can from what I remember.

I had recently taken a job in Fort Worth and my family was still living in San Antonio so I was constantly making the trip between the two on the weekends. On one of these trips I spotted the screen for a drive-in off in the distance as I passed through Waco. Of course I had to make a stop and explore but since I didn't have a camera I decided to hold off for another trip back through. I returned 2 weeks later on a Friday night with my camera in hand and set about to find this drive-in.

I came in from the main road (the left side of the aerial photo) and found the back side of the screen for the Joy Drive-in.

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Its hard to tell from the photos but the three large yellow blocks on the back of the screen once spelled out JOY.

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I parked out by the road and walked in.

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The ticket booth is still standing but it is in very poor condition as can be seen in this picture.

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