MINETTO, NY – Fulton businessman Mark Sherman was on the scene at the Midway Drive-In Theater Tuesday night but not for the reason he originally anticipated.
Sherman owns Letters Signs & Specialties, at 805 S. Fourth St., and he just completed the renovation of the historic landmark’s marquee.
“I was going to put it up probably tomorrow or Thursday,” the sign maker said on Tuesday (July 8).
When Sherman arrived he found the passing storm had shredded the 50 feet x 100 feet movie projection screen, effectively closing the theater on impact.
“We came down last Wednesday and tore the roof off (the marquee base) and put the new roof on. That day I was walking out back, admiring how big and old the screen was,” Sherman said as he walked around the structure.
The lighted marquis is the sign that hails the nightly events and coming attractions along the roadside of Route 48 at the theater entrance.
It was redone in 2000 and re-installed after about 30 years in storage.
But within a short amount of time it started to fade, Sherman said. “It went from red to pink and from yellow to pale yellow. It was pretty faded out.”
The sign specialist noted that Midway Drive-In owner John Nagelschmidt remembered there was originally chrome rings around the circular drum where the sign says, ‘Midway’.
“I discovered that the chrome rings weren’t missing, they were there, just painted over,” Sherman said.
After stripping the paint he realized the rings were stainless steel and he was able to save them, so in the renovated piece they once again shine through.
“Now it’s all redone – everything is painted, there’s no vinyl at all,” Sherman noted. “I was getting ready to apply the clear coat (Tuesday night) … when everybody started calling me and texting me at the shop.”
With area roads blocked due to fallen trees and downed power lines Sherman headed to the theater to see for himself what happened.
“It made me sick when I got here,” he said.
While it will be a few days before the theater owner knows what course of action to take, Sherman encouraged him to bring the sign out as scheduled.
Only minutes after the storm had passed, and with his next moves yet to be determined, Nagelschmidt said he would prefer to keep the restored marquee inside for the time being, where it’s safe.
“Well, we can save it for the grand re-opening then,” Sherman said.