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VENTURA COUNTY GALLERY

Silent Screen

In Simi, an Era Fades to Black

October 24, 1998|NICK GREEN

Obsolete speaker boxes that once blared the soundtracks of cinematic epics dot the defunct Simi Drive-in like tombstones.

A ticket booth stands vigil, a monument to a bygone era.

The hollow snack bar is frozen in time, still advertising soft warm pretzels at outdated prices to hungry moviegoers who will never come again.

And the giant movie screen is now merely an advertisement touting the traditional drive-in sequel: the swap meet.

The Sunday flea market brings the crowds the drive-in failed to summon before the sun set on the last picture show last year, after more than three decades of celluloid fantasies.

The weekly gathering leaves behind its own sort of detritus on the expansive lot, prompting a persistent shopper to rummage amid the leftovers of swap meet castoffs.

The swap meet soon will be cast off itself.

Early next year, city officials are scheduled to consider a subdivision of about 50 homes for the 27 1/2-acre site on Tierra Rejada Road.

"It's the passing of an era," said city planner Jim Lightfoot.

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