It all started with a “Vixen.”  It was ended by a VCR.  For many years, the Oak Hill Drive-In in Moosic was in the adult entertainment business. During that time, law enforcement and individuals tried to close down the outdoor cinema. But changes in technology finally brought about the end of the Oak Hill.  

Oak Hill ad for the film "Vixen" from Scranton Tribune from Sept. 11, 1969. Times-Tribune Archives

Oak Hill ad for the film “Vixen” from Scranton Tribune from Sept. 11, 1969. Times-Tribune Archives

The first attempt came in September 1969.  The state police and Lackawanna County detectives made several visits to Oak Hill to gather evidence that the outdoor cinema was showing movies with questionable moral content.

The drive-in was showing a film called “Vixen.” Based on what the law enforcement agent witnessed  a warrant was issued for the arrest of drive-in owner Angelo Scavo for showing the film. But on the evening when the police showed up with the warrant,  the film had been edited and there were no minors found at the drive-in. No arrests were made. The arrest warrant was issued on a law that prohibits children under the age of 17 from seeing lewd movies.

Years later in 1986, someone went to extreme lengths to close the theater. Homemade explosive devices were discovered at the Oak Hill Drive-In on Easter Sunday, March 30, 1986. They were attached to the support pillars for the screen.  It took Scranton Police bomb squad several hours to dismantle the device that was made up of propane tanks, tin cans filled with black powder, petroleum and fertilizer.

In July a second device was planted and later discovered at the Playtime Boutique on Rt 6 in Dickson City.

State and federal law enforcement agents in August arrested Thomas Lapinski, of Duryea, as the person behind the attempted bombings.

In November, Mr. Lapinski plead guilty in federal court to charges associated with the planting of the devices.  Chief Judge William J. Nealon sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Several months later Judge Nealon modified Mr. Lapinski sentences to 5 years in prison and 5 years of probation.

Photo gallery – Gone but not forgotten – Images of area movie theaters. 

In 1988, the Rev. Leon Kircher, pastor of the Moosic United Methodist Church, took up the charge to close the Oak Hill. The Rev. Kircher appeared at a Moosic Borough council meeting and told council that the Oak Hill is in violation of several county, state and federal statutes. He said the Oak Hill’s screen can be seen from several locations which is in violation of a state code.   Borough President Joseph Mercatili said the matter will turned over to the borough solicitor John Brazil.

The Oak Hill finally closed in 1989. Not from a legal challenge or explosion but from the VCR. The Oak Hill owner Angelo Scavo told Moosic Borough officials that he working on a deal to sell the drive-in property to Northeast Chrysler Plymouth.  Borough officials said with people renting adult movies from video rental stores helped pave the way for the closure of the Oak Hill.

We know that video rental stores have been replaced by NetFlix and Amazon. But locally there is still one movie theater that caterers to an adult audience. The theater is the Cinema 309 in Wilkes-Barre Twp.


Flashback Friday – Did you ever sneak a peek at Oak Hill? – May 3, 2012