Sunday, February 22, 2009

Article #43 Motels and Diners

Motels were a new development as Americans fell in love with their automobiles, and started taking family vacations away from home. They needed an inexpensive place to stay overnight as a family while on the road. Thus developed a motorist’s hotel or motel which quickly replaced the more expensive hotels. With automobile travel gaining in popularity, tourists demanded cheaper easily accessible accommodations close to the main route.

Each little town had several motels located on Main Street while other accomodations were stretched out along the main highways. Most mom and pop owned motels consisted of a simple building with connected guest rooms in a L, U or I formation with a manager’s office facing a parking lot or they could be a series of separate cabins with common parking. Some had kitchenettes, flashy names and neon signs to catch the passing motorist’s attention.

You can still see them in many old towns. Most have gone out of business and many are used as cheap apartments today. But in their heyday they were quite classy with names like: Last Frontier Motel, Trails End, Hitchin’ Post, Vagabond, and Sun N Sand. There was no need to make reservations ahead of time. They were very basic--just small rooms with an adjoining bathroom––no pools, spas or dining facilities like today’s chain motels. Just clean, neat and family orientated.

My husband’s grandma Big Momma had a map she ordered from Humble Oil Company that she had carefully studied and planned their stops each day to see the most interesting sites in each state they visited. What an adventure. They were seeing the U.S.A. in their own car, staying in motels and eating out every meal-a real vacation for the women. Every town had a family diner where you could get home cooked meals while on your trip which included: fried chicken, hamburgers, sandwiches, plus homemade pies and cakes, etc. There were few fast food establishments then.

My husband recalls how they would get up early each morning from the motel where they were staying, have breakfast and start out by 6 am for the next leg of their vacation. By mid afternoon they would arrive at the next town to get a room about 3 pm before other tourists were stopping. After eating dinner, they’d go to bed early to be ready for the next day’s adventures. What fun they had!

8 comments:

  1. My family took a lot of summer vacations when I was a kid. We stayed at a lot of those small town motels and ate at those family restaurants. Those were good times! Loved seeing the U.S.A. Wish I could hit the road again...I haven't been in every state and I want to go back to Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great memories. There have been some good documentaries on PBS about diners and old roadsisde architecture (like giant donuts and hotdogs).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Motels are mostly what we stay at when we travel, that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The motels are the best! I don't know why, but they are! Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Neat story on our history! thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. We still have loads of these around here--along with the family diners. It's all you need for the night. And, you know, it really is cool your car is right there so it's easy to get that thing you know you'll forget!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I remember those kinds of travel vacations. There's something about getting up early and starting the next day of travel before anyone else does. What great memories I have. I love these pics Lin, you did a great job.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Those really were the good old days.. I loved car trips...

    ReplyDelete