MOTEL MOMENTS

The drive from Indiana to New York is quite beautiful.
I spent the night in Bedford, a small town in Pensilvania. When I arrived at the Motel, I parked the car and walked in. There were little crochet circles under every, cup, ashtray, vase, candy jar. An old chair and a wooden desk. On the desk a hand-pump on a plate with the incision “Complaiant Department Please Take a Number.”

After a little while an old man walks in from the door behind the desk after I ring the desk bell.
He is awkward, gentle, and talks a little too much. After 10 mins I already know his wife is a tough cookie and where his daughter lives and do.

After showing me my room he told me there’s no electricity anywhere for couple of miles, an electric box blew up on the lamppost.

I played with his cat, he was wearing a cute collar with a little bow. I met and talked to some other travelers and heard they stories.

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Bill

October 8th, 2018 - Bedford; Pensilvania

“I was stationed in Italy in 1978 in Aviano. I went all over the places in Italy I was taking trains and buses. I used to hike, you know...Those were the beautiful years.”

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Nancy, from north of Pittsburgh.

October 8th, 2018 - Bedford; Pensilvania


”Is there electricity now? There’s no electricity at the steak house!”

“My son in law is from Italy, i don’t know where. I’m going to tell him I met someone from Milan! How exciting!”

(…I tell her a little about me and where my family is from, she asks me many questions…)

“I envy you, you know? My life is so boring. Anyway I wish you safe trip when you go visit them. Anyway it’s so exciting to meet you!”

 Judy’s Motel - Self Portrait

Judy’s Motel - Self Portrait

As a young adult, I always fantasized about little motels on the side of the great American roads. To understand America is to travel its Highways, and there’s something uniquely American about motels. 


The word itself, a contraction of “motorist-hotel”, smells like gasoline and long journeys. 
Bonnie and Clyde, Psycho, Route 66. Fugitives and lovers hide outs, the “no-tell motels". Travelers and criminals. Sex, drugs, and plastic flowers. "100% Refrigerated Air" neon signs. 


But after its boom in the mid-20th century, the traditional mom and pop motel – once ubiquitous along American highways and byways – has largely slipped from the public imagination. And they are now an endangered species.


Limited-access interstates, built to bypass congested downtowns, began to snake across the nation in the 1950s and 1960s. Before long, small-time motor courts were rendered obsolete by chains like Holiday Inn that blurred the distinction between motels and hotels. Single-story structures gave way to double- and triple-deckers. The thrill of discovering the unique look and feel of a roadside motel was replaced by assurances of sameness by hosts from coast to coast.


Today’s road-tripper generally prefers lodging that boasts a professional website, guarantees a fast internet connection and promises easy-on-easy-off interstate access, leaving the older motels built along two-lane roads and numbered highways to go forgotten. 


But we might imagine motor lodges – those of the past and those that remain today – as representative of a pleasant and peculiar fantasy of freedom: a way to escape the global continuum of constant flow and effortless connection. They’re a departure from the script of everyday life, a place where travelers can still invent a new persona, a new past, a new destination.

Olimpia Soheve