It’s Wednesday, or what we like to refer to as “Wayback Wednesday” as we highlight various historical landmarks in our area. So sit back, relax, and take a step back in time with us as we revisit the old Hub Drive-In, that was once located at the intersection of Highway 11 and US-278 in Newton County.
Imagine it’s 1960. You and a group of your classmates are looking for something to do in small-town Covington on a Friday night, and the closest attraction around is the Hub Drive-In. So, you pile as many people as you can into the car—including a few in the trunk—and head over to see the Friday night feature!
The tantalizing aroma of hot, buttered popcorn, cheeseburgers, and chili dogs waft through the summer air as you pull into the drive-in and pay a hefty $1.00 for your movie ticket and admission. Then, it’s time to drive on in and stake out the perfect viewing spot in this 300-car lot. After you and your buddies pile out of the car, you sprawl out to enjoy the evening feature by sitting upon the hood, laying on a blanket in the grass, or steaming up the windows inside the cab of your vehicle. A friendly car hop comes around to bring you popcorn and refreshments as you watch the latest Hollywood release for the evening.
This is a narrative known and loved by many Newton County locals who frequented the Hub Drive-In with friends, family, or as the perfect date night location. In fact, many happy marriages have come from first dates at the old Hub Drive-In theater! We did some research on local forums, like Memories of the Hub Drive-In Covington, GA Facebook page, where we found some truly great stories about this local landmark.
Photo shown above is the Hub Drive-In circa 1962, as shown in a Newton High School yearbook. You can see the license plate starts with the number 38, which indicated that Newton County was the 38th most populous county after the 1960 census.
Many locals love telling their tales from the Hub Drive-In, and a common theme seems to be that there are so many great stories and memories to be remembered of this place. Some of our favorite nostalgic moments include actual accounts of sneaking friends or family members into the trunk of a car so that moviegoers could get more people into the theater (and not have to pay admission). There are also several retellings from staff of the nextdoor Tri-County Livestock Barn as they would climb on top of trucks just to catch a glimpse of the latest movie release. Others would sneak through the field and try to get into the drive-in undetected. Ah, it seems those were the good ol’ days!
And who remembers hearing “That’s a good bingo!” ringing through the lot as winners claimed their prizes? Bingo was frequently played here during intermission or double-features, and winning prizes included things like plastic picnic plates, car tissue dispensers, back scratchers, Sanka Coffee, or an over-the-sink cutting board. One user also remembered the bingo announcer, Stuart Murray, telling a Sanka Coffee winner to, “Guard it with your life as you walk across the parking lot.”
There are also tales of what these locals refer to as the original Dukes of Hazzard as they tried to speed out of the drive-in exit, neglecting to unhook the speaker from inside the car. Billy Hanson, [Newton High School class of 1959] included in his hilarious retelling that this was the first big traffic jam in Newton County as people were trying to exit the movie one memorable night. As his Uncle Don spun the tires in his Ford and tried to outrun the traffic, there was a loud pop, and the speaker started rolling around inside the back of the truck as they sped away. Apparently, leaving with the theater’s car speaker was not an uncommon incident. At the end of his story, Hanson added “The Dukes of Hazzard didn’t have anything on us back then!”
Another car full of film fanatics was packed to the brim with ten people, including three people hiding in the trunk. The group was stopped by the Newton County Sheriff’s Department as they tried to sneak in through the exit, but were all relieved when they were re-routed and told to pay admission through the main drive-in entrance. They also played a great game of bingo that night, and ended up with a winning frying pan!
The Hub Drive-In saw the release of a multitude of feature-films over the years. Many of movies shown at The Hub include: The Vixen, Billy Jack, The Nutty Professor , Walking Tall , The Blob, Shaft , Star Wars, and Alien . A Facebook user mentioned that she will never forget going to see Night of the Living Dead at the Hub Drive-In, because everyone was too afraid to get out of the car to refill on popcorn and coke during admission! The Hub also offered Saturday Night Double-Features, with their first double-feature showing The Satan Bug with George Maharis and Richard Basehart, and The Gunfighter, starring Yul Brenner.
Unfortunately, the structures of the drive-in have all been completely torn down, but it seems that the many great memories of this beloved place have outlasted the drive-in that once stood there.
So how’s that for a trip into the past for Wayback Wednesday?! Do you have any stories or nostalgic memories of the Hub Drive-In? Perhaps you had the perfect date night that sparked true love, or you won a household item playing intermission bingo… We’d love to hear more retellings about the many memorable nights there, so please comment on our Facebook page or social media and share yours with us!