Once upon a time in America, people could afford to drive large, gas-guzzling automobiles hither and yon on what was known as "a family vacation." This concept is totally foreign to me. But I understand from reading history books that upon these journeys, Americans stayed in motels like the Tropic-Air in Clearwater, Florida.
I have some personal history in Clearwater. For the past five years or so, I've spent Thanksgiving Day in Clearwater with my wife's family. For me, nothing says Thanksgiving like 80-degree temperatures and bikinis. However, my purpose today isn't to extol the virtues of eating turkey, stuffing, and all the other holiday trimmings on a Florida patio in the baking sun. Instead, I'm paying homage to the wonderful ephemera collecting sub-genre of motel postcards and all things motel Americana.
I've touched upon this subject in earlier posts. And, for a in-depth look at collecting motel ephemera, read my interview with Andrew Wood. For those interested in building a motel postcard collection, cards can be had relatively cheaply on eBay. And there's even a Flickr group dedicated to the subject.
For total immersion, you'll want to read Gas, Food, and Lodging: A Postcard Odyssey Through the Great American Roadside.
Search Abebooks for the books listed in this post.
[Photo attribution: Tropic-Air Motel image by Marxchivist.]