MOTEL hopping: Salem, Oregon

I feel like I must begin this post with the correct pronunciation of Oregon. I can always tell when someone is from back east because of the way they pronounce Oregon. It is not ORE GONE. You have no idea how much that drives people from Oregon crazy. Pronounce it OR E GUN, but say it fast. Not ORE GONE. I've even heard network newscasters pronounce it incorrectly. I once had a phone call with a salesman at a large publishing company who kept pronouncing it wrong with me saying, "What? What are you talking about." And he'd say, "ore gone." I finally said, "Please spell it." "Ohhhh, you mean Oregon." Hopefully he pronounced it correctly from that point on.

Now, on to the motel.

Sadly, the La Vista Motel in Salem, Oregon no longer exists.

Click on images to see them larger.

It has been replaced by a tacky strip mall with a person in a banana suit trying to draw traffic in to one of the stores.

"The money is in the banana stand." Arrested Development

You can see from another version of the card that at some point the pool didn't exist. This card, found online, is clearly older than mine. Take a look at the old letter prefix phone number.

Click on images to see them larger.

The real kicker for me is their sign saying you get 3 TV channels. I remember when that was a big deal. Often you were lucky if you got one channel in some out of the way places. You were often lucky to get any TV at all. Here you must have gotten the three networks. These days the signs usually say "Free HBO." Life is too cushy now.

I do so love the circus atmosphere around the pool with the corrugated fiberglass panels. It looks like a happy place. Kids would have been drawn to it. The parents not so much because there was probably a posted sign that said, "No lifeguard on duty."


MOTEL hopping: Idaho Falls, Idaho

I stayed in this motel, Falls View Motel in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in the mid-60s on a family trip to Yellowstone. What I remember was the sound of the falls. That's the only memory that has stuck with me.

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Sad to say, like so many old motels, it doesn't exist anymore. At least a strip mall wasn't put up in its place. Instead there's another motel, the Best Western Driftwood Inn.

You can see the falls on the right, what looks like a white slash.

Funny, I don't think of driftwood when I think of Idaho. I automatically think of wood along the Pacific coast. Wood from far off shores. But hey, wood floating along the Snake River is driftwood, just maybe not as exotic.


MOTEL hopping: Gorman, California

Here we are on the Grapevine along Route 5 heading to Los Angeles. I don't remember what year I stayed at the Caravan Motor Inn, nor do I remember why. It was either the late '60s or early 70s.

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This place still physically exists, at least according to Google Earth, but I don't know what it's now called.

I'm always fascinated by motel cards that are architectural drawings. They've always seemed a little less inviting than a photo. What's fascinating about this card is the little piece of information about the architect.

Homer A. Rissman, a longtime Las Vegas architect, made a unique contribution to the Strip skyline when he designed the tent-shaped Circus Circus.

In addition to the Circus Circus, Rissman designed a number of other local properties, such as the Dunes Country Club, the Hacienda on the south end of the Strip and the Bonanza, which had been on the Bally's site.

His work also includes the Flamingo Las Vegas towers and the Primm hotels Buffalo Bill's, Whiskey Pete's and the Primadonna, said Nevada Moore, who had worked for Rissman the past 11 years.

"He was one of the nicest men I ever knew," Moore said.

Rissman died Wednesday (October 2001). He was 74.

Born Feb. 22, 1927 in Chicago, Rissman, who came to Las Vegas in 1956 to design the Hacienda, started his career by building simple, inexpensive houses in Illinois.

In 1954 he moved to California and initially came to prominence building restaurants and motels along the developing interstate highway system.

It was such work that brought Rissman to Las Vegas, where he would become known for his imaginative building design concepts, including Circus Circus, which he co-developed with gaming pioneer Jay Sarno, and the riverboat-shaped Holiday Casino, now Harrah's.

One of Rissman's early jobs was a major renovation of the Flamingo Hilton, where he painstakingly worked around historic architecture dating back to when mobster Bugsy Siegel built the resort.

In the process, Rissman replaced most of the buildings -- which had been built with cheap materials -- with sturdy and useful structures. Still, he saved Siegel's suite, complete with trap doors for quick escapes, as well as other early VIP suites.

In a later renovation, by another architect, those efforts were destroyed as the resort underwent major changes as operators attempted to distance themselves from the property's organized crime roots.

Away from the Strip, Rissman designed luxury apartment complexes, including the Regency Tower, where he lived for many years.

In his spare time, Rissman and his wife, Alice, who survives him, visited Nevada ghost towns and helped preserve them for their historic significance. (SOURCE: University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
The firm no longer exists.


MOTEL hopping: Des Moines, Iowa

It was 1966 and we were on a cross-country trip to visit my grandparents in Pennsylvania. I can vividly remember the night in Des Moines when we stayed at this Holiday Inn. One of the funniest family memories occurred while trying to find the place. I imagine to this day there's someone telling the story from their perspective and still laughing.

It was rare that we stayed in a Holiday Inn because they were the expensive fancy motel chain of their time, but my dad was so exhausted that he saw it and said that that was it for the night.

That same night was the first time I ever had a McDonald's burger and fries. I can also say you wouldn't get me eating any of it now.

Click on images to see them larger.

How about that Mickey Mouse shaped pool? I'm guessing it wasn't intentional.

Ever wonder how Holiday Inn got their name? If you think it has something to do with the old Bing Crosby movie you'd be correct.
Kemmons Wilson initially came up with the idea after a family road trip to Washington, D.C., during which he was disappointed by the lack of quality and consistency provided by the roadside motels of the time. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the musical film Holiday Inn (1942), starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. The first Holiday Inn opened at 1941 Summer Avenue in Memphis, the main highway to Nashville, in August 1952 as Holiday Inn Hotel Courts. In the early 1990s the first Holiday Inn was demolished, but there is a plaque commemorating the site.

Wilson partnered with Wallace E. Johnson (1901-1988)[4] to build additional motels on the roads entering Memphis. Holiday Inn's corporate headquarters was in a converted plumbing shed owned by Johnson. In 1953 the company built its next three hotels which, along with their first hotel built in 1952, covered each approach to Memphis. The second motel was built on Highway 51 South in Memphis. It was followed by two more in 1953, one on Highway 51 North and another on U.S. 61. On the occasion of Johnson's death, Wilson was quoted as saying, "The greatest man I ever knew died today. He was the greatest partner a man could ever have." Together they started what Wilson would shepherd into Holiday Corp., one of the world's largest hotel groups.

By 1956 there were 21 Holiday Inns open with more either planned or under construction. In 1957, Wilson franchised the chain as Holiday Inn of America and it grew dramatically, following Wilson's original tenet that the properties should be standardized, clean, predictable, family-friendly and readily accessible to road travellers. By 1958, there were 50 locations across the country, 100 by 1959, 500 by 1964, and the 1,000th Holiday Inn opened in San Antonio, Texas, in 1968. The chain then became known as "The Nation's Innkeeper". The chain dominated the motel market, leveraged its innovative Holidex reservation system, put considerable financial pressure on traditional motels and hotels, and set the standard for its competitors, like Ramada Inns, Quality Inn, Howard Johnson's, and Best Western. By June 1972, when Wilson was featured on the cover of Time magazine, there were over 1,400 Holiday Inn hotels worldwide. The motto then changed to "The World's Innkeeper". Innovations like the company's Holidome indoor pools turned many hotels into roadside resorts.

The Great Sign
The "Great Sign" is the roadside sign used by Holiday Inn during their original era of expansion in the 1950s-1970s. It consisted of a marquee box; a tower with either red, orange, or blue neon lighting, a large chasing arrow that always pointed towards the motel/hotel, and a four-stage flashing animated neon star at the top. It had 1,500 feet (460 m) of neon tubing and over 500 incandescent light bulbs. It was introduced by Kemmons Wilson when he opened his first motel on August 1, 1952. The signs were extremely large and eye-catching, but were expensive to construct and operate. The manufacturer of the sign was Balton & Sons Sign Company (now Balton Sign Company}, whose ancestor D.F. Balton founded Balton & Sons in Memphis in 1875. In shop sketch artists Gene Barber and Rowland Alexander did the orginial design of the sign. Original engineering drawings were also done by Rowland Alexander of Balton & Sons Sign Company. The story goes that the sign’s colors were selected because they were favorites of Wilson’s mother. The popularity of the sign led to many clones being produced, some of which remain to this day. In 1982, following Wilson's departure, the Holiday Inn board of directors made the decision to phase out the "Great Sign" in favor of a cheaper and less catchy backlit sign that still maintained the original backscript logo (this changed after the second remodel). The decision was not without controversy as it essentially signaled the end of the Wilson era and removed a widely recognized company icon. Wilson was angered about this, saying, "It was the worst mistake they ever made". Wilson so loved the sign that it was engraved on his tombstone. The majority of the signs were sold as scrap metal and recycled.

Several intact fragments of the famous sign have been restored and relit, mostly the Holiday Inn top section of the sign, and the marquee box. However, in 2006 a complete sign was finally found. The disassembled sign, complete with star, marquee box, and the sign base, was discovered in a backlot in Minnesota. On June 3, 2007 it was purchased by a neon sign restoration expert, in order to restore it to its 1950s glory. It is currently being restored and reassembled, and after completion, it will be displayed at the National Save the Neon Signs Museum in Minot, North Dakota. Also, a nearly intact sign (sans the star section) that came from a Las Vegas location sits at the new American Sign Museum in Cincinnati Ohio. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)


MOTEL hopping: Madera, California

The Sandman Motel in Madera, California, once sat next to Highway 99. Next door was Farnesi's Restaurant. Well, things have changed a great deal since this card was printed.

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Farnesi's is still there, though has had a "makeover."

(SOURCE: Yelp)

Sadly, the wonderfully colorful Sandman Motel is gone. It's been replaced by a faux Spanish/New Mexico semi "hacienda" which now includes its own restaurant, thus apparently giving Farnesi's some competition.

(SOURCE: Days Inn)

I know nothing about any of these places. In fact, I have no idea where I got this card. I'm suspicious it was one my mother grabbed on my behalf. Yes, I trained her to also grab all the cards from the desk drawers at motels. Thus I now go through my chest of cards and have memory flashbacks that aren't mine.


MOTEL hopping: Crystal River, Florida

Let's hit the road folks and do some hopping around the country visiting motels.

This post card of the Crystal Lodge Motel in Crystal River, Florida, dates from the late-'60s to mid-70s. From what I can tell I don't think it exists anymore. It seems that there is now some sort of swim with the mantees dive center with the name Crystal Lodge. So don't unpack your bags, we won't be spending the night.

Click on images to see them larger.



Ahhhh, Paris 1975. "Franco assassin" spray painted on the plywood covering the broken windows on the Champs-Élysées. The riot police taking their positions each night, truncheons and shields. The Parisians gathering inside the cafes to watch. My friends and I standing in front of the buildings that had had their windows broken the night before, figuring the protestors wouldn't hit the same building twice if there was nothing to break. And then waiting, patiently waiting until we just got too bored and sleepy and headed back to our cheap flophouse around the corner.

We'd never hear the riots, for some reason, because I heard the guy next door farting all night, but each morning we'd go back to the Champs-Élysées to see which businesses had been hit while we slept. There was always broken glass to walk around each morning.

From what we understood the protestors would gather each night at the Place de la Bastille and head for the Champs-Élysées. I never saw any of it. I do however have photographs of the police and of the broken windows and graffitied plywood.

Good times. Good times. That's the perspective of a stupid tourist in a place where they don't speak the language and you're in your twenties.

Click on image to see it larger.


Deconstructing TIME TRAVEL

Another busy city street from long ago. Any guesses? .

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And again we're being watched.


LONDON: Charing Cross and Trafalgar Square...and MORLEY'S HOTEL

No big surprise that the bits and pieces shown the past few days were from a vintage post card of London. Now the full image for your perusal.

Click on image to see it larger.

As I tend to do, I had to find something to research and I chose the hotel dead center, Morley's Hotel, opened in 1832. This proved to be a short search since the place no longer exists. By the 1930s it had been replaced by the High Commission of South Africa, in other words, their diplomatic mission.
South Africa House was built by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts in the 1930s on the site of a derelict hotel. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Well that's a bit nasty, isn't it? A derelict hotel indeed? Why just in 1920 a group from NewYork called the Colony Club intended on purchasing the place. So, was it derelict before or after we Yanks took over the place? Either way, it's gone.

But what of the old hotel? Here's a shot of it in 1920. It must have had some sort of interesting history since it stood right on Trafalgar Square. Surely a pigeon or two must have nested for awhile leaving something to history. Well, indeed:
I continued to sacrifice for the rest of the day; it didn't seem to me a sentient thing, as yet, to inquire into the means of getting away. My curiosity must indeed have languished, for I found myself, on the morrow, in the slowest of Sunday trains, pottering up to London with an interruptedness which might have been tedious without the conversation of an old gentleman who shared the carriage with me and to whom my alien, as well as comparatively youthful, character had betrayed itself. He instructed me as to the sights of London, and impressed upon me that nothing was more worthy of my attention than the great cathedral of St. Paul. "Have you seen St. Peter's in Rome? St. Peter's is more highly embellished, you know; but you may depend upon it that St. Paul's is the better building of the two." The impression I began with speaking of was, strictly, that of the drive from Euston, after dark, to Morley's Hotel in Trafalgar Square. It was not lovely—it was, in fact, rather horrible; but as I move again through dusky, tortuous miles, in the greasy four-wheeler to which my luggage had compelled me to commit myself, I recognize the first step in an initiation of which the subsequent stages were to abound in pleasant things. It is a kind of humiliation in a great city not to know where you are going, and Morley's Hotel was then, to my imagination, only a vague ruddy spot in the general immensity. The immensity was the great fact, and that was a charm; the miles of housetops and viaducts, the complication of junctions and signals through which the train made its way to the station, had already given me the scale. The weather had turned to wet, and we went deeper and deeper into the Sunday night. The sheep in the fields, on the way from Liverpool, had shown in their demeanor a certain consciousness of the day; but this momentous cab-drive was an introduction to rigidities of custom. The low black houses were as inanimate as so many rows of coal-scuttles, save where at frequent comers, from a gin-shop, there was a flare of light more brutal still than the darkness. The custom of gin—that was equally rigid, and in this first impression the public-houses counted for much.  —Henry James, London
from Bernard Brooks' Adventures: The Experiences of a Plucky Boy by Horatio Alger.

So Morley's Hotel is long gone. Raise a glass to the old place and those who passed through.


Deconstructing TIME TRAVEL

I'm wondering if this was taken at commute hour?

See yesterday's post for more of this image.


Deconstructing TIME TRAVEL

Once in a while at my vernacular photography site I like to "deconstruct" an image instead of showing all of it at once. Sometimes the details of an image get lost when you see everything at once. So I'm going to do the same with a vintage post card. I'll reveal the location upon showing the full image. Until then you might try to guess where it is.

Welcome to the hustle and bustle of a major city long ago.

Click on image to see it larger.

And just so you know, you're being watched.


VINTAGE CLIP ART from the Omaha Bee

Again, images I don't own. Taken from the Library of Congress files of pages from the Omaha Bee newspaper between 1906 and 1909. They're just too wonderful to ignore.

Oh how I'd love to get my hands on an old book of clip art from those days.

Some of the images can be seen larger by clicking on them.

April 10, 1909

April 10, 1909

August 4, 1909

August 4, 1909

July 26, 1906

June 26, 1907

June 26, 1907



I generally don't post items I don't own, unless I find something when doing some research. What follows is because of the research I did for the June 3rd post about businesses along Farnum Street in Omaha, Nebraska.

All of these vintage ads are from Omaha newspapers from 1898 to 1909. They are not shown in chronological order. All come from scans at the Library of Congress.

Men definitely had some problems long ago. For only $5 a month they could be cured of Syphilis for life! Such a bargain! What could possibly go wrong?

Feb. 2, 1909

Nov. 24, 1898

April 20, 1902

Aug. 3, 1909

Aug. 4, 1909

Aug. 19, 1900

Aug. 4, 1909

Dec. 16, 1906

Feb. 2, 1909

Feb. 2, 1909

June. 25, 1901

March 24, 1909

Nov. 20, 1897

Nov. 24, 1898

Nov. 5, 1905

Nov. 24, 1898