Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Pretty Good Sign

A follow up to my musings on the Great Sign that was and forever will be the Holiday Inn, I decided to take a moment to reflect on the first runner-up in the World O' Jeff Neon Signage Hall of Fame. This contender has less superb signs but iconic space age orange A-Frame Motel offices that looked like atomic Ski chalets and matching cupolas atop their likewise orange roofed restaurants. Clearly they won the award for most effective use of orange and aqua in history at least until someone invented the eighties. While we preferred the other chain for lodging, and my father was a confessed Holidex reservation system junkie, this one was a favorite in a different category.

Yes, it's Howard Johnson's, my mother's highway luncheon stop of choice, no doubt boosted in my esteem by the twenty-eight flavors and the Ho Jo Cola. Holiday Inn restaurants were the one area that lacked consistency, but the orange roof was as predictable as a blowout on a Firestone 500. Simple Simon and the Pieman greeted you at the main entry door along with the name of the city. Look, Mom- Eau Claire already. I'll have the fried clam strips, Ma'am.

I remember being atop Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1968-high atop the site that advertised "See Seven States". The first thing I picked out from my lofty vantage point was a Ho Jo's. From then on it was "See Seven States and a Howard Johnson's" to us.

Here, in it's glory, the pretty good Ho Jo's sign (and note the Ultra-Fabulous Holiday Inn Great Sign in the Background.)

And here's s terrific tribute to the pretty darn good Orange Roofed Inns

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