A POPULAR MTN. VIEW CORNER

By Mike Carroll Jr.

Many loves were won and lost on the corner of El Camino Real and Grant Road in Mountain View back in the fifties.

Built around 1950, Monte Vista Drive-in Theater was the perfect place to bring the wife and kids for a Walt Disney or a date to watch the latest Alfred Hitchcock. Under the screen, there were various kiddy attractions to keep young children occupied.

Shortly before the movie, Hit-Parade type music began playing from the small portable speakers. It was almost magical to hear the tinny sound of Frank Sanatra fill the car with the closed acoustics, all while looking out at a sea of station wagons filled with families under the gigantic Monte Vista's black-framed screen.

During intermission, commercials advertised "delicious" pizzas. As one ventured over to the snackbar, it was always busy with a special smell of hot dogs, pizza and popcorn only a drive-in could process.

AFTER THE MOVIE

Spivey's Drive-in Restaurant was a destination for many after the movie ended. Known for their Broasted Chicken dinners, the restaurant's half circular shape was quite common among drive-in diners during this period. Sporting an orange and yellow color scheme, the main dining area was well lit with a large circular counter and booths against the windows.

Off to the side, a smaller dining area was also available. And, of course, all seats contained mini juke box players. The south end of the building was designated for carhop service with a canopy.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES

By the early sixties, the corner began to acquire a rowdy reputation. As witnessed by my Dad, who worked at the Standard Station across the street, the Mountain View police were consistently called out to the area on Friday and Saturday nights to curtail disturbances by local youths. Eventually, the restaurant had no choice but to close the carhop service early.

During its heyday, the Spivey's chain was quite well known in the Santa Clara Valley, which included restaurants in San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Campbell and Santa Cruz. In 1965, a Union '76 Gas Station replaced the restaurant.

By the mid-70's, The Monte Vista Drive-in made way for condominiums.

Santa Clara Valley in the Fabulous 50s Mike Carroll Jr's home page

Drive through a 3D virtual reality database!

Click on image to download real-time simulation of Grant Road and El Camino Real, Mountain View CA, circa 1963 (8.7MB). You will need the Audition Player , Windows98/NT4.0 (or higher) and a 3D graphics accelerator card. Audition is a player which allows users to maneuver though 3D environments. It includes instructions for controls.

Have Fun!

 

 

 

 

Computer generated 3D Illustration, looking South-East across Grant Road