Faded orange rooftops


Source: pinterest.com

Tomorrow, September 6th the next to last Howard Johnson’s restaurant in the United States, located in Bangor, Maine will be closing. This leaves but one Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in the country – in Lake George, New York.

To this baby boomer, such a inauspicious ending is hardly fitting for one of the most iconic restaurant names in American history – a restaurant chain that Mel Brooks immotalized in the film Blazing Saddles. For a kid growing up in the 60s, Howard Johnson’s was the place to eat while traveling. Twenty-eight yummy ice cream choices and a menu geared towards families with children always topped the standard fare found at most other hotel restaurants of the era. 

Source: openculture.com

My brother and I would also invariably vote for Hojo’s when visiting our grandparents in Speedway, Indiana. The delicious memories of a grilled cheese sandwich for each of us and vanilla shake for me and chocolate one for him. Those were the days! 

Below is a short poem about my personal memories of Howard Johnson’s Restaurants – which will always be sweet. Enjoy!

Faded Orange Rooftops

Once a stalwart of the highway

dotting turnpikes nationwide

now a fading memory

of an era that slowly died


Bright orange rooftops

turquoise highlights below

wooden panel interiors

greeted travelers on the go


A chef serving hotcakes

adorned its bright-lit sign

but those iconic rooftops

were their namesake design


Counter seats to the right

where action ebbed and flowed

booths or tables to the left

for those weary from the road


Twenty-eight sweet flavors 

of frosty cream delights 

awaited those young and old

while visiting tourist sights 


A memory of my childhood

from not that long ago

now passing into history

like a closed portfolio


Thank you Howard Johnson’s 

you were awesome in your prime

where grilled cheese and a shake 

were something quite sublime.

Rick Brown – 2016

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