Under the Big Top. Actually, a lot of us remember being “at” the Big Top. That would be the long gone, but not forgotten drive-in that once stood at the west end of Yosemite Avenue.
A great place to stop for the best French fries and a cherry Coke before cruising (we called it “dragging”) main street back to the Sno-White Drive-in at the east end. It was back and forth after football and basketball games, and on those romantic summer nights where, if you had a bench seat in front as did my ’59 Ford convertible, your gal could scoot over and snuggle while you kept at least one hand on the steering wheel.
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I told you that to tell you this: This scribe received an email from a Michele Carter (maiden name: Martin) who graduated from Madera High in 1968. Her grandparents were Resto and Ada Montanari and were the original owners of the Big Top Drive-in. Her uncles, Bob and Paul Stefanelli owned Reed & Bell Drive-in on what is now Gateway Drive.
Sheesh, I hope this is stirring as many memories for you as it is for me. If it is then you know these places as part of a colorful time and history of Madera. Unfortunately, Michele and I, after hours of research, have not located any photos of Big Top or Reed & Bell, or even Monty’s Liquor that was owned by Julius and Ken Montanari. Here is where you come in, gentle reader. If you have any photos of any of those places please let me know by calling the Tribune or by email (address at bottom)...