Friday, March 7, 2008

We're Not Allowed in Howard Johnson's Either!

Many years ago, there was a joke about a couple with a fertility problem, who had tried just about everything to conceive, but nothing worked. Their doctor told them that they were being too uptight and that they needed to relax and just let nature take it's course. They were to stop all the specialized tricks and just have sex when the urge came upon them. When the doctor saw them again about eight months later, the mom was obviously expecting. He asked them how they achieved the long awaited pregnancy. The proud dad replied, " Well, we took your advice. We were eating and she dropped her fork. When she bent over to pick it up, the urge hit me and I nailed her on the spot, but I don't think they will let us back in Howard Johnson's!"

There was a time many years ago, when traveling between
Toledo, Ohio and tropical
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida,
no Interstate 75 existed.
We did have a couple of four lane highways , but they were few and far in between. The thrill of any trip was 25W between Jellico and LaFollette, Tennessee. The road wove it's circuitous route over and around the mountains hanging onto the cliffs over the Tennessee River with no guard rails. But, we were young and in love and the chance for a quick trip to the Land of Sunshine was irresistible. I had never been south of Bowling Green, Ohio, but took my turn at the wheel while in the fairly flat part of Kentucky. The twenty-five miles beginning at Jellico meant nothing to me, so I didn't wake up my sweet husband to take over. I buzzed along in the dark and had a rough inkling that the road was really pretty curvy, since the cars ahead of me would disappear out of sight as they rounded yet another sharp curve. Imagine my surprise on the return trip as I viewed the flooded Tennessee River so far below us in broad daylight. It was not possible that I, a novice driver, had driven those twenty-five miles in the dark without killing us.
In those days, people along the route
showed their prosperity by putting their wringer washing machines on the front porch of their shacks. It meant that they could afford electricity. Recently, we strayed from I-75 in a sense of nostalgia and discovered that the washers were gone --- replaced by video dishes. A real sign of progress!
We had our wonderful vacation in Florida and started back home. Since we were young and poor, we always drove right straight through .... it only took 22 to 28 hours of driving and we had all sorts of energy back then. Now, it is difficult to work up the ambition to make the trip to WalleyWorld down the street. We played in the Atlantic surf, ate out, visited with good friends and went on a Safari to the backwaters of Ft. Lauderdale (which is code for "Take a quick right behind the Mangroves and we'll have these dopey tourists believing they are in a dense tropical jungle".... otherwise known as the beginning of The Everglades). Come to think of it, we went on the same cruise while doing the touristy thing in Australia many years later!
We left Florida and started our weary way home on those two lane highways and the occasional divided highway. In the fifties, Atlanta was a small city with a by-pass. I think it was State Route 441, which skirted the edges of the city. It was approaching 10:00 p.m. and we had not stopped to eat dinner, yet. We knew that if we passed by Atlanta without eating, there was nothing much until the next morning in Knoxville, so the husband told me to start looking for a place to eat. Everything was thinning out, stomachs were rumbling when I spotted a sign. Howard Johnson's ---2 miles! Honey really didn't care for their food or prices, but was willing to try anything under such circumstances. I put my shoes on and combed my hair, but as we approached this den of ptomaine last chance for food ---- the lights on the outside all went off!
"Oh, no! They're closed!" There were lots of people inside, so my darling knight in shining armour said, "I'll go in and ask how late they are open", as he cruised up to the front door. He left the car running as he opened the car door and strolled up towards the entrance. Funny,... all the people inside came running to the windows and peered out at us. Golly, they were probably closed already! "Honey" made it as far as the front fender, then started backtracking to the driver's side of the car. "Are they closed?," I asked like a dimwitted troll. Honey, replied, "I don't know, but I pulled up too far,... I'm on the grass". So he backed and backed and backed up----all the way to the street. The parking lot was on the side of the building! Here we were donutting their front lawn! Needless to say, we aren't allowed in Howard Johnson's anymore, either!
The hunger problem was solved a couple of miles down the road at a truck stop. We giggled so hard we could hardly swallow, but it was just another fun trip in the lives of a couple of ditsos, before children life became a serious thing and we had to begin living like civilized human beings. It was a good time...a great time...I wouldn't change a whit!
We have, also, never been in a Howard Johnson's since that time. Have we missed anything? All those flavors and we are on a terrorist list! Somebody give me a little snakey lick of the butter-pecan, please?

I promise to stay off the grass!


Big Dave T said...

We're at our first night's stop on the way to Florida and I think there is a Howard Johnsons in this town (Jonesville, NC). Do you want me to check to see if you still are banned?

We ate at a seafood place just a while ago. My plate came with deep fried potato wedges. Now we're talking southern cuisine. But I passed on the sweet tea, which is popular in these parts.

Kacey said...

Gee Dave, You're on vacation and still read my post? I am so honored. Actually, I can't go to HoJo's.... "Honey" still thinks they are too expensive for what you get. Get used to restaurants offering Sweet Tay... all these southerners drink it that way. Michy D's has Sweet Tay (read with the accent) for .99 cents.

Matty said...

After that joke...I was expecting some real wild hanky-panky....I was even holding my breath....then I thought they mistook you for robbers...thank goodness you cleared that up.
Sounds like you've had a lot of great times Kacey. I'm sure you'll have a lot more.

Betty said...

Yep, I too was expecting hanky- panky, but it was still funny!

My memories of Howard Johnson's are quite different from yours. I haven't seen one in years, but there was one in my hometown and my mother took me there for a hot fudge sundae when a special treat was in order. They used to stick cookies in the sundae to make it extra sinful. That's one of my favorite memories of my mother.


Cathy said...

Oh Kacey, you are on their terrorist list, huh....LOL

I had to laugh because I remember those days when there really wasn't many places to eat except a Howard johnson. traveling from Ohio to Virginia and absolutely nothing along those turnpikes except HoJos.

You know Kacey, I worked at the one in Lima for many years, as a waitress, all the way throgh HS and college. I could write a book of all the things I saw people do there. Your story would be the opening!

Carine said...

I'm trying this again-other day, darn computer wouldn't let me comment!
Loved the story myself-oh how racy and cute all at the same time! Except for maybe the poor lawn part.
I've been thinking-we stayed at the HOJO's hotel about 12 years ago in Kissimee. Two huge rooms, $100 w/ a kitchen of sorts. Good for the 4 of us! Food was awful though. LOL

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