MOTEL hopping: Passing through Fort Stockton with a big bird chasing us

Keep your shoes off and stuck out the window. We won’t be stopping tonight. This old Ramada Inn card for Fort Stockton, Texas doesn’t even supply an address so I don’t know if it’s still standing or not. 

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Having checked Yelp to see if they had any information, I find nothing. It’s possible this building is still around under another name or has had a facelift. Who knows. I always thought Ramada Inns looked like Stuckey’s. Why they both chose the same sort of architecture I’ll never know…or really care.

The publisher of the card was Schaaf Post Card Company out of Alamogordo, New Mexico. I can't find any historical information about them.

Doesn’t it seem stupid to have not put contact information on the back of a post card? No address. No telephone number. No customers. Granted, Fort Stockton is small so you probably couldn't have missed the faux colonial buildings, but still...advertising 101.

So folks, we’re leaving Texas tonight. If you want to know more about Fort Stockton as I barrel out of town click here.

Wave at Paisano Pete as we leave town in a hurry.

(SOURCE: Wikipedia)


MOTEL hopping: Amarillo, Texas

I never stayed in a Ramada Inn, and I won’t be staying in one tonight at this location.

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Folks, it looks like this place is long gone. Google Earth shows the following for the address on the back of the card. And no, this isn't exactly how it looks at Google Earth. I added the boomerang shape just to make things interesting.

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I don’t remember seeing any Ramada Inns until the mid-to-late ‘60s. Like the Holiday Inn, they had distinctive architecture. In Ramada’s case it was a bit of colonial Willismsburg kitch. Holiday Inn was always trying to be a bit sleeker and modern. I always wondered if the colonial theme was also in the rooms.
The lodging chain was founded in 1953 by longtime Chicago restaurateur Marion W. Isbell (1905–1988) and a group of investors including Michael Robinson of McAllen, Texas who later went on to start Rodeway Inns in the early 1960s; and Del Webb of Phoenix, who owned the New York Yankees and went on to establish his own lodging chain, Hiway House, in 1956. Other original investors of Ramada Inns included Bill Helsing, Isbell's brother-in-law; Max Sherman of Chicago, a produce operator dubbed "The Tomato King"; Chicago attorneys Ezra Ressman and Mort Levin; and Frank Lichtenstein and Robert Rosow of San Antonio, Texas.
Chicago, a produce operator dubbed "The Tomato King"; Chicago attorneys Ezra Ressman and Mort Levin; and Frank Lichtenstein and Robert Rosow of San Antonio, Texas.

Ramada opened its first hotel—a 60-room facility—on U.S. Route 66 at Flagstaff, Arizona in 1954 and set up its headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, where the chain built the Sahara Hotel on North 1st Street downtown in 1956 (which later became the Ramada Inn Downtown) and a 300-room Ramada Inn in the 3800 block of East Van Buren in 1958 that would become the chain's flagship property and headquarters. Mr. Isbell, like his contemporary, Kemmons Wilson, the founder of the Holiday Inn hotel chain, devised the idea of building and operating a chain of roadside motor hotels while he was on a cross-country trip with his wife, Ingrid, and their three children. On that trip, Isbell noted the substandard quality of roadside motor courts along US highways at the time. He saw the possibility in the developing market for a chain of roadside motor hotels conveniently located along major highways which would provide lodgings with hotel-like quality at near-motel rates plus amenities such as TV, air conditioning, swimming pools, and on-premises restaurants.

The Ramada name is derived from the Spanish term rama (meaning branch)and was applied to temporary open air structures called Ramadas that were made of brush or branches (similar to an arbor) and were popular in Arizona during harvest time. Company websites commonly refer to the structure as a "shady resting place."

Through its early years until the early 1970s, a typical Ramada Inn was built of colonial Williamsburg-style architecture to set their hotels apart from the standardized architectural designs used by competitors such as Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson's. These are properties that have distinctive triple pillars and a white overhang in the front of the hotel, in addition to all-brick architecture. However, most of these are now rebranded under various other names but a few original Ramada Inns of that colonial design continue as franchises of the chain today including a hotel in Ocala, Florida.

Ramada's logo, from its start in the 1950s until around 1976, featured a friendly bald innkeeper, dubbed "Uncle Ben". He sported an apron (later a suit and tie) and held a top hat in one hand and in the other hand, a red trumpeted banner that read "Ramada Inn Roadside Hotels". From 1976 to 1982, the chain's logo was a simple rounded rectangle that read "Ramada Inn" in the same gothic Western style lettering of the original design. From 1982 to 2004, Ramada changed to a revised, rounded rectangular design with more modern lettering. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
I did once stay in Amarillo, well, a little east of town. It was early January 1959 and my family was on our way to Hawaii from the East Coast. We were riding in a blue and white Oldsmobile towing a ’56 Chevy Bel Aire convertible, also blue and white. Both cars, my folks, my budgie Pete, and I all shipped out of San Francisco on January 16th. Before feeling the warmth of the tropics we’d had to drive through winter storms that culminated in Amarillo.

Just outside Amarillo we couldn’t see the road because of the drifting snow and wind. We stopped at the first motel my dad spotted. Our room was toward the back of the “u” shaped building. A restaurant was in the front between the corners of the “u.” It was an experience I’ve never forgotten. It was practically as cold in the room as outside. The heater blew nothing but cold air and my father was busy trying to duck tape anything he could find over the vents. Meanwhile my mother and I huddled in the  double bed covered with blankets watching game shows on the snow tv screen.

I can’t remember the name of the show, but it was one of my favorites, and now I was freezing to death while watching it. There was a gauzy curtain with a person standing behind it in shadows. On the other side of the curtain there were three people and the MC. The point of the show, as if there ever really was a point to any of the shows, was for one of the three people to recognize by asking questions who the person was behind the curtain. It was always meant to be heartwarming. Heaven knows in that motel room we needed all the warmth we could get.

Eventually we went up to the cafe for dinner which meant going back out in the wind and snow. On a sunny warm day it would’t have been much of a walk, but that day it felt like it took forever. As I recall my mother carried my little budgie in his travel cage. He went into all restaurants with us, covered beneath a little towel. People would get the strangest looks when they heard a bird in the place.

Anyway, we’re going to keep driving since the Ramada Inn at 1001 E. Amarillo Blvd. is gone. Even the tree is gone. Nothing left but concrete and ugly.

I’m just really pleased it’s not winter along the Panhandle.


MOTEL hopping in a 2-door Lark De Luxe station wagon

There's just so much room! We'll all be comfortable. And gas mileage? I have no idea what sort of mileage this car gets.

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Let's just say we're having a lark in our Lark. I'm sure nobody ever said that before. I'm obviously the first. I do think "lark" defines this trip across America, motel after motel:
lark noun
something done for fun, esp. something mischievous or daring; an amusing adventure or escapade
Now, I've got to go because I'm expecting a special call.

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