Monday, August 29, 2016

OH NO! Say it isn't so HoJo?

I had no idea the Howard Johnson's restaurant chain was down to two restaurants in the entire United States.  Come September 6th they'll be down to only ONE.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I read that in this morning's Houston Chronicle.

I guess I should have realized since I haven't seen a Howard Johnson's in years.  When I first moved to the Houston area in 1981 there was one on the Gulf Freeway, but I guess that's been gone for a number of years.  I just assumed they still existed somewhere else.

When I was growing up in the 1950's we went to Florida every year for either Christmas or Easter.  We drove from New Jersey to Florida and back again.  My mother insisted that Howard Johnson's always had clean ladies rooms, so that was a regular stop along the way.  I didn't mind one bit since I loved their hotdogs.  Back then there weren't that many chains.  No McDonald's, Burger King, etc.  It was more of the Mom and Pop type places.

This slide was taken in July of 1954.  I don't know exactly where, but I'm pretty certain it must have been somewhere between New Jersey and Florida.  (You can click on it to enlarge for a better view.)
From left to right:  my sister Carol Sue, my mother Betty Durgin, and me Betty Jean.  (As soon as my sister and I were old enough we got everyone to drop the Sue and Jean from our names.)

Of course, my sister and I were always dressed exactly alike...right down to our underwear I'm sure.  In a lot of the old slides we are often dressed up.  I think we must have gone all the way to Florida in dresses and patent leather shoes.  My mother is often wearing high heels just like June Cleaver.  Times sure have changed!

Although I'm now 70 years old I can still close my eyes and smell and taste a yummy Howard Johnson's hot dog.  It was covered with grease and so so good.  I always enjoyed those Howard Johnson's stops because it was a nice break from my parents arguing.  My mother never liked the way my father drove and found it necessary to correct him.  For the first day or so he didn't mind, but after that the arguments would begin.  I'd watch for that familiar orange roof in anticipation.  Yea!  We could get out of the car!

According to the newspaper after September 6th the only Howard Johnson's restaurant in America will be in Lake George, New York.  If it wasn't that far I'd sure like to go one more time for old time's sake.

I did find a couple of websites with Howard Johnson's memories.:  America's Landmark: Under The Orange Roof and HoJo Land.

If you'd like to own some Howard Johnson's memories of your very own there's always eBay.  I took a look and there are postcards, plates, glasses, matches, etc. up for auction.  Perhaps you could use a Howard Johnson's ash tray?  Click here.

Anyone else with Howard Johnson's memories?  If so, you're probably over 60!


  1. We saw Tennessee Ernie Ford at a Howard Johnson's once on vacation. I do not think anyone had noticed until my mother practically scream his name at him. I am sure he was forever grateful.

  2. We had one here in Georgia for years. It closed. Your mom and the way she dressed you up - same as my mother. Today I wear jeans and a t-shirt! Times have changed.

  3. I must have been with my parents in olden days, but I think we did stay once. I remember the one on the Gulf Freeway when we/I moved to Houston in early mid-sixties but we stayed at the Holiday Inn close by. A novel one I think was the one on 99th Street and 6th Avenue in NYC. We had to walk by it on 99th and 9th from our high rise Comfort Inn back in the early eighties.
    That must have been way back, "No McDonald's, Burger King, etc, (!!!), we had a McDonald's in Lincoln, Nebraska, back in the mid-sixties.
    This is a nest post, Betty

    1. Oops, that was mid-fifties McD's came to Lincoln.

  4. The only time I ate at a Howard Johnson was in 1975 somewhere in New York. A friend and I drove cross-country to visit her parents in NJ and she said it was a must for us to eat there. Can't remember the food, but I do recall it being in a woodsy area.

  5. Oh gosh, there was a Howard Johnson's restaurant and motel off of 52nd Avenue and I-70. I remember attending some Princess House or Home Interior event there. But they tore it down to make way for my houses, more houses, more houses! I think that was the only one I was aware of in Colorado. I sure loved hearing your stories. My hometown of Pueblo did not get many hotel/motels until they built the convention center downtown and the riverwalk. Then different hotel and motels popped up everywhere. Nice memory, thank you for sharing Betty. Enjoy your week. Your Texans won today! xo

  6. Oh my I did not know this! I did know that the famous French chef, Jaques Pepin, was the executive chef for many years at Howard Johnson and developed their menus, etc. We did eat at Howard Johnsons way back in the 70's when we were on road trips. We always looked for the Orange roof!

  7. Thanks for sharing these interesting memories.


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