Cars, Candy and Canoodling in the Motor City

Shortly after World War II, three Dearborn brothers bought a vacant parcel to build a drive-in theater. Local groups opposed them, fearing such a place would elicit "immoral behavior." But the Clark family persevered to see its movie palace become a Metro Detroit mainstay, hosting celebrities, rock stars and a never-ending line of families with kids in footie pajamas. A handshake transferred ownership to movie magnate Charles Shafer and his business partner, Bill Clark, who expanded the theater to a massive nine screens. But blockbusters and hordes of teens couldn't mitigate the effects of Detroit's decline, auto company bankruptcies and Michigan's economic malaise. Despite it all, the mighty Ford-Wyoming kept the movies showing, bringing a bit of Hollywood glamour to the gritty Motor City.



Loved the local history.

“Loved the book. It was so much more than the story of the drive-in, there was so much local history told. It is a terrific read for someone to enjoy learning about some of the history of Detroit. I loved learning about the two separate families who owned the Ford-Wyoming and how their lives were intertwined. Such a great story! It makes me want to pack up the kids and go to the drive-in!”

— Patricia Greenen.

A trip down memory lane.

“Full of vintage photos and anecdotes regarding the history of the drive-in, the drive-in site and its owners, it tells the fascinating story of the Ford-Wyoming Drive-in Theatre, it's difficult start no thanks to an obstruction mayor and why it survives today at its industrial location off the expressway. Well researched...”

— Gary Flinn

Great descriptions and photos.

“Karen's storytelling makes me regret the times I drove by the Ford-Wyoming and never drove in. As a Michigan native, I have vague memories of going to the drive-in theater in Owosso in our PJs. I can't decide what I liked better: Walking through the history of the Ford-Wyoming, or reading about how people today remember it. It's a little jewel for Michigan - and especially Detroit - natives, and it's really fun for anyone who loves a good story.”

Jennifer Marsik Friess




What stories can you share from your drive-in days?

Read "The Ford-Wyoming Drive-In" and remember when.