I recently was given a few postcards from my Dad’s travels over the years. My family loved to vacation in Florida almost every year, so we travelled along Interstate 75 many times. At some point over the past several decades, my Dad (and possibly me) must have stayed overnight in Findlay, Ohio while passing through on I-75.
I know this as he had this amazing specimen:
Here is the back, sadly with some age related discolouring (pink?):
These motels were always a popular stop for us as, and generations of similar sun-seeking travellers, as they were affordable and close to the highway so we wouldn’t waste any precious driving time (we were never allowed to stop for any sight-seeing or even bathroom breaks as we had to “make good time”).
Most of these motels didn’t have many thrills, but I was always happy to be anywhere. If we were super lucky we got a motel with a pool (as this one did – that’s rare for the truly cheap motels) and it was open late enough for us to have a swim! If not, we would have to make do with a ride on the coin-operated vibrating beds!
These motels always used to give away a free postcard. Even though the postcards weren’t much to look at – as frankly neither were the motels themselves. (As even professional postcard photographers, whom I was extolling in my last post, can only do so much!) Nonetheless, I was delighted to get such postcards. So apparently were a lot of my family, as I have a lot of these in my Collection. Many of them were unsent, meaning they were kept for some sort of souvenir.
This one must surely be from the 1960s or 1970s. Why would my dad hold onto this postcard for decades? Why do I still I love these types of postcards?
I’m not sure what the thrill is with these types of postcards. It’s not like the one night in our life that we spent at any of these places was so meaningful or the locations themselves were special (or in any way memorable). But for some reason, and it’s not just because of the kitsch appeal of their boring quality, which admitedly is part of their appeal.
But there’s more too it. There’s nostalgia. Motel postcards are a thing of the past now. Not only has it been decades since I’ve been in any motel, hotel, or resort that gave away free postcards, but most lodgings don’t even sell postcards of their place anymore (unless their building is exceptionally beautiful, historic, or posh).
But it’s not just motel postcards that are a thing of the past, many motels themselves are gone now. There are still a few hear and there but increasingly they are being torn down or converted to rental units. I checked via Google Maps to see if the Finlay Motel was still in business. I think the location is mostly a dollar store now, but it seems that one of the buildings seen in this postcard may now be apartments.
I recently read a book about postcards from along Route 66 called “Postcards from Route 66: The Ultimate Collection from America’s Main Street”. The author wonderfully chronicles the route throughout its heyday and includes many postcards much like this one. I never travelled that highway – my Route 66 has always been I-75. The book deals with the bygone age of family road trips and the stops en route.
Flights are now so affordable and time so pressed that even though I still take my family to Florida occasionally for vacations, we would never drive that far! So this is definitely a way of life and some wonderful times that have gone forever, but are remembered via our postcards.