Hi-Way 26 OutdoorFrom 1962 to 1967,110 Mr. Lalor was also responsible for Hi-Way 26 Outdoor, Janesville first new theater since the Jeffris.
Located on Milton Avenue (Highway 26) just west of the Highway 14 intersection, about where Woodman's is today, it opened on June 21, 1949, a Tuesday and summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere.111
Perhaps Ted Karatz, president of Badger Outdoor Theatres Company, Hi-Way 26's owner or one of his employees knew the astronomical significance. But it meant true darkness and showtime would arrive the latest of any day of the year. The Gazette article about the opening states the drive-in was "...a mile north of the city." 112
Mid-City OutdoorNot quite a year later, on Saturday, May 6, 1950, its cross-county rival, the Mid-City Outdoor Theater, opened between Beloit and Janesville, on Highway 51 near Townline Road.
It was operated by Standard Theaters of Milwaukee, developer of the unusual 41 Twin at 7701 South 27th Street in Franklin, which is two suburbs south of the Milwaukee city limits; the 41 Twin had unusual, back-to-back screens. 113
I spent many happy hours at both outdoors, first as a grade schooler taken mainly by my oldest brother Forry, a paraplegic, who found it difficult to attend regular theaters, and later as a teenager with a driver's license and a date. It was great fun!
Wild In The StreetsThe most memorable movie I saw at the Hi-Way 26 was 1968's Wild In The Streets, a youthquake-Now-Generation epic heavily influenced by what was called the Generation Gap and produced long before the term Baby Boomer gained everyday meaning and currency.
Although it didn't coin the phrase, "Don't trust anyone over thirty," Wild In The Streets etched it into fictional stone. It is set in a time when the voting age is 15 and mandatory retirement occurred at—what else?—30.114
It all made sense at the time.
Hi-Way 26 Outdoor, 1956. Screen is toward the 14-26 inter-
section; the dark square in the center of the parking area
is the concession stand-projection booth. Cropped 1956
United States Department of Agriculture aerial.
Thanks to the Robinson Map Library, UW
Department of Geography, Madison.
Hi-Way 26 Outdoor circa 1960s given what appears to be a Chevrolet or GMC
Suburban from that decade parked outside the concession-stand-projection-
booth. Found online, photographer unknown, but it's reasonable
to think he or she arrived in the vehicle. Probably I parked
at a number of the speaker stands visible in the image.
Click for larger image.
Janesville theater manager Mr. Lalor.
Babies who attended the opening and enjoyed a
bottle in the car while the movie unreeled
are now just a little older than me.
Just six years after it opened, Mid-City
Outdoor was remodeled. See below.