OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — It was July 3, 1968, when the first car pulled up to the Winchester Drive-In movie ticket booth for the premiere show.
Lindy Shanbour was there to greet the first customers. He was there almost every night until the end of last year's season.
In 2017, Shanbour, the longtime owner of the last drive-in theater in Oklahoma City, started having health problems and feared he wouldn't make it to see the 50th anniversary in 2018, said Jeff Massad, Winchester manager.
"He prayed that God would give him his 50th anniversary which was last year. And if God would give him that he would be a happy man," Massad said to The Oklahoman. "I said, 'Lindy don't talk that way, I plan on doing the 60th anniversary with you."
Shanbour made it to fall 2018 and suddenly fell ill again and was hospitalized, Massad said. He got to celebrate the 50th anniversary before he died at age 91.
"It was an amazing thing that he got his wish and his prayer answered. I just love that he got to do that," Massad said.
Shanbour died after closing weekend in November. The drive-in will open again in late April.
"We are carrying on the legacy for the Shanbour family," Massad said.
Plastic roses remained near the booth where Shanbour took cash for tickets with a smile.
The parking spaces next to the speakers on the drive-in lot fit 475 vehicles.
Bare trees stood on the side of the white screen in the daylight on a recent winter day. The 53-foot-tall, waving, neon cowboy with the mustache and rifle has lighted up the street for five decades. The sign read, "Thank You For 50 Years."
Returning for his 26th season is Bob Deupree, who worked as Shanbour's "right hand man." Deupree said he is preparing for the 2019 season, and he'll miss Shanbour on opening night and during the season. Opening night is April 26.
"It will be different," Deupree said.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com