Today, the Richland Bean Blossom Health Care Center is a place where older folks with bladder control issues or joint replacement can live with the assistance of full-time health professionals. Located next to the Ellettsville Dental Center, it faces the busy State Road 46, yet its forested backyard makes it a generally quiet place for seniors to live their final years.
But that spot wasn’t always so quiet. Sometimes when I drive by the Sunset Drive-In in San Luis Obispo, I remember the drive-in theater that once occupied that spot, in my former home of Ellettsville, Indiana. It was called Cinema West, and while it was structured much like the Sunset — and scores of other drive-in theaters across the country — there was one big difference:
Cinema West showed porn.
Yup, in our conservative little town, we had an outdoor theater that showed X-rated movies.
Located just a few miles from Bloomington, the home of Indiana University and John Mellencamp, the theater showed adult movies for more than a decade. And while the place was surrounded by a fence with metal siding, there were gaps in the fence. So if you were a kid, and your parents drove on SR 46 — which you had to do to get to Bloomington — you could get a quick peek at the screen. Some kids at my school were even more determined — they would sit on a hill nearby and get a freebie.
No sound, of course, but they never really complained.
The funny thing was, this was an X-rated theater with no anonymity. Because if you were driving along that road on a Friday night, you’d see a line of cars waiting to get in. And inevitably, I’d hear someone like my mom say, “I saw Dave Stanger in line at the Cinema West last night.” And you knew that he wasn’t there for the popcorn.
On weekends, the Cinema West sign announced, there was an added attraction: The wet T-shirt contest. You can imagine the great honor it was to win the wet-T contest in Ellettsville, Indiana. I’m not sure if they gave out trophies, but if so, I’d be reall interested to learn what they looked like.
I can’t remember exactly when they knocked it down, but I know I was in high school. I just remember thinking it was pretty funny that they would build a senior assisted living center over it.
It’s been so long now, there’s a chance some of the old folks in that home might have actually gone to Cinema West back in the day. Heck, maybe some of them even sneaked a peek as they were rolling along the highway.
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