Elizabethton without the Stateline? ‘I just can’t imagine it’

9:48 am | August 19, 2013

Erwin residents Deana Clawson and her husband RJ were first Friday in the line of cars that forms most summer Photo by Danny Davis<br />
Theaterweekends on U.S. Highway 19E outside the Stateline Drive-In.

And for Deana, “first” was a theme for the evening.

She said she and RJ have been voting online and via text message since they first found out a digital projector was needed to keep the drive-in open.

“That’s actually what prompted us to come so quickly … and the fact that I’ve never been to a drive-in movie in my life,” she said. “We’ll support them and keep it up as long as we can.”

Having not been back to the theater in about 30 years, RJ said he grew up in Carter County and was a drive-in theater regular.

“As a child, I used to come here,” RJ said. “We had a carload about every other week. A lot of times we would come during Halloween. They would have scary movies back-to-back.”

RJ pointed out that if the theater closes, the closest place to see a movie would be Johnson City.

“This is really the only theater left in Elizabethton,” Deana added.

Connie “Concession Stand Queen” Heaton, who has worked at the drive-in for the past 13 summers, started to tear up as she explained the importance of the theater to her childhood memories.

“I just can’t imagine it,” she said about the theater possibly being closed. “I remember coming here when I was a kid. This is to Elizabethton like the ocean is to Myrtle Beach.”

One of her favorite things about working at the theater has been seeing old friends and making new ones each summer.

“Since I’ve worked here, I’ve seen people I went to high school with that I had not seen in years,” Heaton said. “It’s fun.”

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