Maine and Arizona by
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Two memories, perhaps not unique but important to my youth!

Living in Connecticut, we vacationed for two or three years at a “camp” on Great Pond of the Belfast Lakes in Maine. It was just my brother and I then, before another brother and a sister, so we loaded into the car and headed up Route 1 to Maine. Fond memories of stopping at gas stations and getting Coke in bottles out of the electric coolers – such a modern convenience. When we boys had to pee – no worries, just pull over to the shoulder and out we went to do our business! Favorite place to stop for meals was Howard Johnsons restaurants. We loved the HoJo’s grilled hot dogs (they toasted the buns in butter on the grill) and of course their ice cream. It was an all-day drive, but we never minded it.

In 1958, my Dad got a new job in Phoenix. By this time, brother #3 was a two-year-old toddler, and sister was a bun in the oven. After a one-week departure delay while I had the mumps, off we went in our dark green Pontiac station wagon. My toddler brother was in the back seat and my closet brother and I were placed in the “way back” on a blanket. There we roamed, played, slept and fought all the way across the country. Obviously before the interstate highways, we drove to St. Louis, where we continued west on Route 66 to Arizona. I came down with German measles in Missouri, so we spent a couple of extra nights in a motel while I was sick. I remember lying feverishly in bed and watching the “Motel” sign flash its neon message all night long.

Those were the days!

Profile photo of Joe Worth Joe Worth

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Marian says:

    Great descriptions, Joe, and who can forget HoJo’s ice cream? But yikes, mumps and rubella in the same year? We had a green 1958 Plymouth station wagon, so I can relate. I can’t figure out how my mother, who claimed she was 5′ 2″ but probably was shorter, ever drove that car, without power steering.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Amazing how kids could fit in the “way back” (and of course no seat belts). Once we even got a couple of kids in the little space behind the back seat of a VW bug. Mumps and measles also an old memory—before they had shots. Thanks for the trip.

  3. Wonderful details, such as the motel sign flashing, and the old-style soft drink machines, really made this tale vivid in the reader’s mind.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Very specific memories place these trips in time, perfect for we baby-boomers, Joe. Ho-Jos was such a treat, wasn’t it? The delicious ice cream, the orange roof – all gone now. That image of the electric cooler to get your Coke bottles from; great details.

    As Khati, our resident doctor points out, you had two childhood diseases that have been all-but eradicated by childhood vaccinations, but they were no joke for you and your family at the time. I have a friend who is deaf because his mother contracted German measles while pregnant with him. Your description of your feverish nights in the motel in MO, watching the flashing “motel” sign is almost surreal, embedded in your brain it is. Your Featured photo made me want to sing the Route 66 song…another oldie but goodie.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    So many memories, Joe. Who can forget HoJos or the way back of cars or mumps or German measles? It’s a wonder we survived!

  6. Thanx for the visceral memories of your boyhood car trips with family Joe, and so well written.. And reading between the lines I imagine yours was a very close and loving family.

    And those HoJo hot dogs I can almost taste!

  7. Suzy says:

    Wonderful memories, Joe, and the fact that they are not unique is what makes Retrospect fun, because we all grew up at a similar time. I loved HoJos, but especially their fried clams, which nobody else has mentioned. Much better than their hot dogs, as far as I was concerned. And their ice cream was essential to any stop.

    Having to suffer through German measles in a motel room must have been hard for you and the whole family. I’m surprised your siblings didn’t get it too, as well as the mumps you had before the trip. We all had those diseases (although chicken pox was the worst for me), but easier to handle them at home than on a road trip.

  8. Suzy says:

    P.S. I seem to recall that you are a Navy guy. Weren’t the Maine and the Arizona both battleships?

  9. Great story, Joe, so much captured in impressions. I subjective catalog of the times gone by. Thanks!

  10. Being sick in a motel as a kid, with a fever, staring at a flashing neon sign, is one definition of hell. Although I might prefer that to trying to digest a hojo dog in a buttered bun in the back seat of a Pontiac station wagon.

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