Groundswell Builds To 'Save The Admiral Twin'


Saturday, September 4th 2010, 1:07 pm
By: News On 6


By Dan Bewley and NewsOn6.com

TULSA, OK -- A day after the fire that destroyed both screens at the iconic Tulsa drive-in, public support is building to 'Save the Admiral Twin.'

They're coming by the theater at 7355 East Easton Street a few people at a time, alone or in groups. They're people whose lives have been touched by the Admiral Twin Drive-In, coming by to pay their respects to the site of a Tulsa landmark.

Visitors were greeted by Admiral Twin employees, including manager Dottie Stockton.

"Today we're starting boarding up the windows, getting ready to close down," Stockton said. "We're talking to everybody coming by."

Stockton was at the company's other venue, Riverwalk Movies in Jenks, when she was notified of the fire on Friday.

9/3/2010  Related Story: Fire Destroys Screens At Tulsa's Admiral Twin Drive-In

"It was devastating," she said. Stockton said her phone rang from the time she was notified of the blaze Friday afternoon to 10:30 that night. Calls started up again Saturday morning.

"We appreciate everybody's support and prayers and everything for it," she said.

"There was no insurance on the structure because it was 60 years old, all original, made out of wood," Stockton said. "Nobody would insure it for us."

It will take about $300,000 to rebuild the screens to the height and quality that was lost, she said.

"Stood for 60 years and went down in ten minutes, you know," said Blake Smith, Admiral Twin Owner.

Needless to say, Smith didn't get much sleep Friday night.

"The strangest part for me is being on one side of the theater at the concession stand and you can look across and see the other concession stand, and I've been out here since 1987 and never been able to do that," Smith said.

9/3/2010  Related Story: Movie Goers Remember Tulsa's Admiral Twin Drive-In

The day after the fire, brought part two of the story The News On 6 first told on Thursday.

Rick Wells met Bonnie (Williams) Dobbs and Diana (Smith) Wigfield as the two ladies saw each other for the first time in 45 years. They had hoped to see a movie this weekend at the Admiral Twin, but how quickly plans change.

"This is... no... didn't expect this at all. It hurts because this is home to me," said Tulsa native, Diana Wigfield.

9/2/2010  Related Story: Tulsa East Central High Graduates Reunited After 45 Years

The pair was one of dozens of people who came to see the sight. They say just mention of the name brings back memories.

"I remember, in the winter time, coming out and you had to rent a heater and hang it in the window to heat up the car so you didn't have to run the car," said Bonnie Dobbs, who is a Broken Arrow resident.

It's hard to explain what the Admiral Twin means, they say, but seeing the charred shell of its movie screen makes it hard to keep emotions in check.

"Oh, it just breaks my heart. It's almost like losing a member of the family," said Dobbs.

The summer movie season was scheduled to end at the Admiral Twin Drive-In next weekend with a special showing of "The Outsiders." It's the movie, of course, that helped make the drive-in famous.

There are buckets set up at the entrance gate of the theater for people to donate money. Bigfoot Prints, a Sperry T-shirt company, is also selling 'Save the Admiral Twin' T-shirts with 100% of their profits going to the building fund.

Other ways to help:

  • Donate to a Paypal account set up on the company's website, SelectCinemas.com.
  • Mail donations to Select Cinemas, P.O. Box 1165, Jenks, OK, 74037.
  • Donate at Security Bank, East 51st Street and Highway 169.

There's also a Facebook page devoted to saving the Admiral Twin. On Friday evening it had more than 4,000 fans. By noon Saturday it was almost 14,000.

"Everything will go into the account and go towards re-building," Stockton said. "Hopefully we'll be up and ready to go by next summer."

In the meantime, the owners are cleaning up and coming up with a plan for what to do next.

Stockton said people who want more information about the drive-in or have other ideas to help can write them at information@selectcinemas.com.

Leave your thoughts and memories about the Admiral Twin in the comment box below this story. Send photos of the fire or your experience at the drive-in to pics@newson6.net.