Admiral Twin has memories to build on
BY CLIFTON ADCOCK World Staff Writer
Sunday, September 05, 2010
5/23/12 at 8:40 AM
Read memories from fans of the Admiral Twin.
Owners of the Admiral Twin Drive-In said Saturday that they hope to rebuild, possibly re-opening the Tulsa landmark by next season.
The nine-story twin movie screens at 7355 E. Easton St. caught fire Friday around 1:50 p.m., officials said, sending flames roaring into the sky and devastating the wooden structure.
Within 10 minutes, witnesses said, the iconic screens had collapsed into a flaming heap of debris.
The structure was not insured, and on Friday, Admiral Twin owner Blake Smith said he saw little chance of rebuilding.
But if Friday's events were the equivalent of a spectacular Hollywood finale for the Admiral Twin's nearly 60-year run, as any movie fan can attest, there's always the chance of a sequel.
Within hours, an online campaign to raise funds to rebuild the screens had started along with other efforts, including some local companies pitching in to help in fundraising and cleaning the debris.
By Saturday, the owners hoped to have the drive-in up and running by next spring.
"Most definitely," General Manager Dottie Stockton said when asked if the Admiral Twin would be rebuilt. "We really appreciate all of the support and prayers everybody has given. We're overwhelmed with the response."
Smith said he is not sure of the precise cost of replacing the screens, but he estimated it would cost around $300,000 to do so.
"We would like to rebuild it, but that's dependent on whether we can raise the money to build the drive-in back similar to what it was before," Smith said Saturday. "If we got it, that would be beautiful."
So far, response has been good, Smith said, but the process is "totally dependent on what kind of response we get."
Select Cinemas, the Tulsa-based company that owns the Admiral Twin, will have a PayPal account set up this weekend for donations, Stockton said, and a fund has been set up at a Jenks bank to take donations as well.
The Owasso company Bigfoot Prints has begun selling T-shirts reading "Save the Admiral Twin," with all sales going toward rebuilding the screens, Stockton said. Boomtown Tees is also donating a portion of the proceeds from sales of its Admiral Twin shirts to the effort and is collecting donations at its downtown store.
Harley Hollan Roll -Offs also has donated the use of some of its trash bins to aid the cleanup effort.
By Saturday evening, the "Save the Admiral Twin Drive-in" Facebook page had accumulated more than 16,000 fans.
The drive-in season usually starts in March or April, but if the screens are rebuilt, that might get pushed back to May, Stockton said.
Bill French, Tulsa Fire Department public information officer, said late Friday night that investigators were still not sure how the blaze started.
Around 10:30 p.m. Friday, firefighters returned to make sure the fire was completely extinguished and sprayed more water on the charred pile of wood. Crews knocked down what remained of the wooden skeleton Friday evening.
As of Saturday, firefighters still had not determined the cause of the blaze.
Donations can be sent to: Attention Admiral Twin Drive-In/Select Cinemas; Security Bank; P.O. Box 1165; Jenks, OK 74037
For more information on donations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Remembering the Admiral Twin
"As a kid, we ran around and about the most mischievous thing we got into was sneaking through the fence to watch movies. My wife and I just took our kids to see the movies there because I made the comment that I didn't know how much longer it would be there, and I wanted them to have the same thrill of the Admiral Twin that I had. What a sad day for Tulsa."
- Mike Carter, assistant police chief in Sand Springs
"One night one of those huge trash bags tore open and dumped a massive amount of buttered popcorn all over the inside of the new car my parents gave me for graduation, almost filling the entire front and back seats. I never got all of the popcorn out; it got stuck in and under the seats, behind the dashboard, everywhere. That car smelled like popcorn until the day I sold it."
- Kurt Wise, former Admiral Twin worker in 1989
"As I drove by while on (Interstate 244) and saw the screens burning, my heart sank and I was very sad. I believe that Tulsans would support a fundraiser to rebuild the screens and whatever. I loved the Admiral Twin Drive-In and am in support of any help that can be given to 'Bring Back the Admiral Twin Drive-In.' "
- Pamela Griffith, who grew up about a mile from the drive-in
"I remember my parents popping popcorn in a cast-iron skillet and putting it in a large paper bag. I can still see the grease spots in the bottom of the bag. I remember all five of us children loading up into the car, usually one of us lying on the back dashboard - something that's illegal today. I remember playing on the playground until the cartoons were over and then lying on a blanket in front of the car until it was too hot or the mosquitoes became too irritating. But what I really remember is coming home from the movie and being so tired I sometimes pretended to be asleep because I knew my dad would pick me up, carry me into the house and tuck me into bed. A lot of good memories."
- Kenneth Joslin
"I remember as a young girl when I turned 18 my first movie at the Admiral Twin Drive-In was 'Jaws.' Oh my lord was it scary to see such a giant shark on such a large outdoor screen. I thought the shark was going to jump right out of the screen and land on top of everyone watching."
- Sharon Roper
"About seven years ago, I took my border collie Hello and collie Casper to the Admiral Twin for a double feature. The guy at the ticket booth looked at me like he wasn't sure what he was supposed to charge for dogs. They got in free. And of course their favorite part of the movies was the part before it started when the kids were playing with the Frisbees in front of the car. The doggies got restless after one movie and we had to take them home. Still was a bargain and fun times that will not soon be forgotten at the drive-in movies."
- Richard Linahan
"It is so sad that we have lost this Tulsa landmark. It is actually depressing to many of us who grew up with the Admiral Twin and who have continued to patronize this historic piece of Tulsa. I assume the statute of limitations has expired so I can share that on more than one occasion I crawled out of the trunk of one of my friend's car because we didn't have enough money to get into the movie. That was probably because we spent our money at Pennington's on black bottom pie and cherry or vanilla Cokes. I do remember my parents taking me to the Admiral Twin when I was in elementary school along with my two brothers and sister. Nothing like a family of six watching a movie on a hot summer's night in their '55 Chevy station wagon!"
- John Selph, former county commissioner
"I went to work there in 1954 when I was 12 years old picking up trash and quit when I was 26. I worked for one of the owners, Mr. Alex Blue who was great person. Mr. Blue taught me how to say 'yes sir' and 'thank you' to the customers. Mr. Blue also would pay us for good grades in school - $5 for As, $3 for Bs. I worked at every job except for projectionist. I remember one night a man who drove up in a convertible with a real lion in the back seat. Of course we turned him away."
- Don Armstrong
"I remember piling into my Dad's black '79 Chevy stepside truck and going to see 'ET.' We laid sleeping bags down in the back and watched the magic unfold on that monstrous screen. For me, it was a perfect evening. Although I live in Kansas City now, Tulsa will always be home. Driving in on I-244, while taking in the beautiful skyline, I would pass the drive-in and in an instant I knew I was home. Tulsa will not be the same town without this iconic landmark."
- Courtney Crockett
"Back in 1953 when I was a student at Will Rogers High School, a girlfriend of mine was dating a fellow student at Rogers. She asked me if I would go on a double date with her boyfriend's best friend, also a fellow student. We went to the Admiral Twin Drive-In for that date. We graduated in the Will Rogers Class of 1954, got married in August 1956, had two sons, five grandchildren and the marriage lasted 48 years, until his death in 2004. My sweetheart gave me an engagement ring on my birthday in 1956 at the Admiral Twin. It is like losing an old friend."
- Nancy Helvey
- May 24, 1951 - Admiral Twin opens as the Modernaire with one screen. Tickets were $1 a carload and featured live entertainment by Johnny Lee Wills.
- 1954 - A second screen is added to accommodate the crowds.
- 1982 - Francis Ford Coppola films part of "The Outsiders" at the drive-in.
- 1994 - Moviegoers can listen to the movie on their FM radios.
- 2001 - Admiral Twin marks its 50th anniversary. It had just undergone a $100,000 renovation.
- 2005 - The drive-in wins a $35,000 makeover from the Save-A-Landmark contest sponsored by the Hampton Hotels.
- 2010 - The drive-in begins celebrating its 60th anniversary.
- Sept. 3, 2010 - Admiral Twin burns down.
- Sept. 4, 2010 - Owners say they hope to rebuild.
To see all of the Tulsa World slide shows, go to tulsaworld.com/photos.
To see all of the Tulsa World slide shows, go to tulsaworld.com/photos.
Original Print Headline: Memories to build on
Clifton Adcock 581-8462
An Owasso company sells T-shirts from a table at the Admiral Twin Drive-In site Saturday to raise money to rebuild the longtime Tulsa drive-in, which was destroyed by fire Friday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Firefighters battle the blaze that destroyed the Admiral Twin Drive-In on Friday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
A panoramic view shows the Admiral Twin Drive-In on its 50th anniversary in June 2001. Tulsa World file
Movie patrons roll into the Admiral Twin in 2008. Tulsa World file
An ad for the Modernaire, the drive-in's original name. File photo
Owner Blake Smith said he would like to restore the drive-in "back similar to what it was before." Tulsa World file
Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola (second from left) directs his young actors C. Thomas Howell (seated, far left), Ralph Macchio (back to camera) and Matt Dillon (front seat, right), during the filming of "The Outsiders" in Tulsa. Part of the film was shot at the Admiral Twin. Courtesy
The drive-in won a $35,000 makeover in a Save-A-Landmark contest sponsored by the Hampton Hotels in 2005. Tulsa World file
Sid and Jan Reynolds of Bixby celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2007 at the Admiral Twin Drive-In, where they met. The couple dressed up in '50s-era clothes to see the film "Wild Hogs." MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file