Remembering the Kim-Hi nights

It’s very nearly drive-in movie season again, another opportunity to reflect on what we’ve lost.

Yes, we know that there’s really little use for a drive-in anymore, not when we can view movies with higher quality in our homes, but a reflection in the St. Cloud Times today provides a reminder that with every step forward, we lose something too.

The Kim-Hi Drive-in stood in Kimball, Minn., until 1983, run by Ron and Valerie Greely and their four children. Son Troy ran the projector. The youngest kids mowed the grass and picked up trash.

“People socialized there,” Troy Greely added. “It was a place to meet, hang out and talk. There were sections where families could park and different sections where people got out of their cars. Sometimes people weren’t even watching the movie. They were having a party.

“You could bring in your own beverage. Days were different back then. But things didn’t get out of hand. We never had a lot of problems. People would come to the drive-in on Fridays, then go to the Playland (Ballroom) on Saturdays. Of course, I usually had to work at the drive-in on Saturdays. So I missed out on that.”

The drive-in was heavily damaged by a tornado in the ’60s, but the show went on. They used the third of the screen that was left. Everyone just had to move up a bit to see it, apparently.

The Kim-Hi was done in by the VCR (ask your parents what those were). We didn’t have to socialize to get our movies anymore. And no mosquitoes.

“People thought it was cool to sit at home and make their own popcorn,” Troy Greely said. “But then all the drive-in places started closing and they realized they were losing something.”

The couple who started the drive-in divorced and sold the land. There’s a church there now. And an assisted living facility.

“We’d go around checking tickets,” Troy Greely said. “Sometimes the windows on a car would be so fogged up you couldn’t see inside. You’d pound on the window once, and if there was no answer, you’d just move on to the next car.”

Today, of course, there are only a handful of drive-ins left in Minnesota, patronized mostly by a crowd that has a more difficult time fogging up the windows these days.

  • Gary F

    France Ave. Drive In.

    France and 76/77th street just south of Southdale.

    • Driveintheater.com has a list of the dead theaters here. It was written before the Cottage Grove Drive in was plowed under for a WalMart.

      Rainbow Drive-in, Aitking, Mn
      Starlite Drive-in,

      Ablerta Lea, Mn
      Sunset Drive-in, Alexandria, Mn
      218 Hiway Drive-in, Austin, Mn
      Bronco Drive-In, Bemidji, Mn
      Cisco Drive-In, Bemidji, Mn
      65 Hi Drive-in, Blaine, Mn
      Gull Drive-in, Brainerd, Mn
      Cine Buff Drive-in, Buffalo, Mn
      Coon Rapids Drive-In, Coon Rapids, MN
      Sky View Drive-in, Detroit Lakes, Mn
      Vons Drive-in, Eveleth, Mn
      Family Drive-in, Fairmount, Mn
      Fergus Drive-in, Fergusfalls, Mn
      Hub Drive-In, Forest Lake, Mn
      100 Twin Drive-In, Fridley, Mn
      Sky Blue Drive-In, Garrison, Mn
      Pine Tree Drive-In, Grand Rapids, Mn
      Garrick Drive-in, 501 Front St., Hawley, Mn
      Cinema 2 Drive-In, Hector, Mn
      Hibbing Drive-In, 313 Mesabi Drive, Hibbing, Mn
      Flying Cloud Drive-In, S. Hwy. 169 & Hwy. 212, Hopkins, Mn
      Starlite Drive-in, Hutchinson, Mn
      Parkway Drive-in, International Falls, Mn
      Jordan Drive-in, Jordan, Mn
      Kim Hi Drive-in, Kimball, Mn
      Rex Drive-In, Little Fork, Mn
      Airport Drive-In, Littlefalls, Mn
      Bernie Drive-in, 327 W. Warren, Luverne, Mn
      Star Drive-in, Mahnomen, Mn
      Kato Drive-in, Mankato, Mn
      Nankato Twin Star Drive-In, Mankato, Mn
      Starlite Drive-in, Marshall, Mn
      Colonial Drive-in, Morris, Mn
      Lucky Twin Drive-in, 100 E. Hwy 13, Minneapolis, Mn
      Starlite Drive-in, Montevideo, Mn
      Starlite Drive-in, Moorhead, Mn
      Lake Drive-in, Moose Lake, Mn
      Colonial Drive-in, Morris, Mn
      Navarre Amph Drive-In, Navarre, Mn
      Starlite Drive-in, Newulm, Mn
      Starlite Drive-in, Owatonna, Mn
      Rapids Drive-in, Park Rapids, Mn
      Prairie Drive-in, Perham, Mn
      Pine Outdoor Theatre, Pine City, Mn
      Sunset Drive-in, Pinestone, Mn
      Red Wing Drive-in, Red Wing, Mn
      71 Drive-in, Redwood Falls, Mn
      Starlite Twin Drive-In, Rochester, Mn
      Skyvue Drive-in, Sauk Centre, Mn
      Green Lake Drive-in, Spicer, Mn
      Spring Valley Drive-in, Spring Valley, Mn
      Cloud Outdoor Theatre, St. Cloud, Mn
      10 Hi Drive-in, St. Cloud, Mn
      Corral Drive-in, St. Paul, Mn
      Maple Leaf Drive-In, St. Paul, Mn
      Rose Drive-in, St. Paul, Mn
      Satellite Drive-in, Thief River, Mn
      Marty’s Skyvue Drive-in, Twin Valley, Mn
      Rand Drive-In, Verndale, Mn
      Wadena Drive-in, Wadena, Mn
      Hi Y Drive-In, Walker, Mn
      Chief Drive-in, Wilmar, Mn
      Skyvue Drive-in, Winona, Mn
      The Gay Drive-In, Worthington, Mn

      • Gary F

        France Ave. Not on the list?

        Was the Worthington drive in before it’s time or just too focused on one demographic?

  • My first date with my fiance was to the Vali-Hi drive-in back in August of 2011. We’ve been back every summer since.

    • I think we went there once when we learned the problem with moving to Minnesota: the sun stays up wayyyy longer than it does out east. So the movie starts way too late.

      But, gosh, I have so many memories of being carried from the car to the bed at our little trailer that held 7 people in Plum Island, Mass., in the summer after I’d fallen asleep before the second feature at the drive in.

      I think of that whenever The Sons of Katie Elder comes on the TV.