Saturday, January 5, 2008

Polynesian Motel - Anaheim, CA

A favorite activity of mine during my family's twice-yearly visits to Disneyland are the times when I hit the road in the afternoons to explore the Southern California cityscape. Armed with postcard clues, I seek to identify the remains of old motels and other businesses, with the goal of documenting their latter days and seeking some connection to the excitement and optimism often portrayed on the paper advertisements of the Kodachrome Age.

One such place hides in plain sight along Brookhurst Street in Anaheim. The Polynesian Motel has enjoyed a 50 year run, providing comfortable lodging for the budget-conscious traveler.

Here's our first shot of the Polynesian, taken when it was newly minted. Note the jaunty sign, which once broadcast the siren song of the South Seas to the adventurous. The rest of the motel appears to be rather scant with the Tiki accoutrements, but I guess we can give them a pass based on the strength of the sign itself.

One should take note of the phone booth at the base of the sign. These are getting very hard to find these days, as cell phones have become as common as these glass boxes once were.

I'd love to slip back in time to around 1960, and be standing in this booth around 9:00 PM on some warm summer evening, with the neon lighting of the sign filling the booth with color and movement. Perhaps I'd call a cab to take me down the road to Linbrook Bowl* where I could roll a few frames and mix with the locals in the Kopa Room*.

Now here's the Polynesian in December, 2007. The grounds are well maintained and the paint is fresh, but the excitment and lure of the place has suffered with the removal of it's neon beacon.

Another card from the late 60's focused on the pool scene (sorry for the poor quality).

The pool area as it is today:

One more thing: if you decide to step out for a smoke, make sure you grab a matchbook when you pass by the office.

Unfortunately, it looks like they skimped a bit on these, as the cover depicts a generic roadside motel, not the exotic Polynesian...

* This locally-treasured alley and lounge still exist, and will be the focus of a not-to-distant future post.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Capri Motel - Modesto, California

Back in my hometown of Modesto, The Capri Motel was located at 602 McHenry Avenue.

From the back of the 1950's postcard:

"28 large comfortable units, individually heated and air conditioned. Wall-to-wall carpets. Free TV. Room Phones. Off the Highway - Quiet and restful."

The highway mentioned would be Highway 99, which in the 50's still rumbled through the heart of the old city via 9th Street. It would be at least 10 more years before the inevitable by-pass was constructed.

The Capri is looking sharp with its AAA approval and inviting pool, and a room reservation could be made by dialing LAmbert 4-7374. I'd like that second story room just to the right with the balcony...

I visited the Capri in late November, 2007. And I'm happy to report that the old place is looking well.

It's now an Economy Inn and features (from the phone book ad) "Luxurious Air Conditioned Guest Rooms With Desk In Every Room". It seems quaint that air-conditioning is still one of its boasts, as A/C is a rather common 'luxury' in this day and age.

You'll notice that they've built a fence around the pool. It amazes me how pools were left completely open in the old days. Of course, back then people didn't sue for everything like they do today.