The Old Motel

My great-grandmother used to run a motel on Route 66.  She built and ran the place in the heyday of the 1940s, but continued to live there after the auto business disappeared.  I remember visiting her as a child, just before she moved into a rest home.  It was a strange and smelly place: green-painted cinder block, square construction, no customers, trash in unusual places.  She prepared us a meal in the "restaurant" at the corner of the building, which was an uncomfortable experience.  That was 1976. 

More than 30 years later, I went back.  Using the directions my father had given me, we searched a remote stretch of Route 66 in the dark of night for a building matching the description.  My wife and daughters thought I was nuts and would never find it.  We were tired, returning from a camping trip.

I finally found the building behind a row of pine trees, set back from the road a ways.  Of course, no lights.  As we pulled up the driveway, the others in my car became alarmed.  It was an abandoned shell, windows and doors all broken, rubble and glass all around.  The old wooden gate and welcome sign still existed, right where my granny had greeted us.  Everything was old except one thing: a nice, new kids bicycle parked in front of the gate on its kickstand, as if someone was visiting.  Weird.

We parked in front and I wandered around with a flashlight in spite of the bike.  Nobody else dared come with me.  The restaurant was still there, but I didn't stay to eat anything this time.  The memories in the walls were a little too stirring for my appetite.  


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3 Responses Feb 25, 2009

It's almost as if your Grandmother wanted you to know she knew you were coming. Why else would she have orchestrated such exact presentation of the perfect sign - a new bike - she knew it would cause you to think of her, and to consider that she might have known you were coming. It worked didn't it?<br />
<br />
I guess it was a success then.<br />
<br />
~Tayer '{`

This is a great story! Very interesting and a little sas too.

That's awesome! I bet the kid that owned the bike took off as soon as he saw the headlights.