Thursday, July 24, 2008

Vacancy at the Economy Inn


Ghostly
Ocala, FL, December 2007 [Click to embiggen]
Quick note: This week's Thematic Photographic theme is monochrome. So if you've got any black and white or sepia-toned visions of your world, please click here and submit to your heart's content.
It's early evening in northern Florida. We've got hours of driving ahead of us as we pull off exit 352 on Interstate 75 and look for a place to get a quick snack, let the kids run around for a few minutes and then get back on the road. I spot a Dunkin Donuts and, thanks to two days of accumulated fatigue, take the wrong entrance. I end up in the motel next door and can't get back to Dunkin without some serious vehicular backtracking. I park the wondervan at the edge of the crumbling asphalt. We can walk.

As Debbie goes on ahead, I take some quiet time to observe the desolate building behind me. A tattered vinyl banner covers the roadside sign, peeled paint visible all around it. There's not a soul in sight. It reminds me of the ghost towns in the wake of 1950s nuclear tests in the Nevada desert. Time definitely forgot this place. Out comes the camera - this is too reminiscent of urban ruins to pass up.

Suddenly, an even half-dozen polyester-clad folks of a certain age emerge, almost from nowhere. Three men, three women, obviously couples, all dressed in colors that remind me of the bright stucco used on buildings down here. They stare at me as I point my lens in their general direction. I lower it, not wanting them to think I'm capturing them. The lady with the blue hair and shiny white purse waves at me. I wave back as they make their way to the landau-roofed Grand Marquis with the wire hubcaps.

Even without the camera set to sepia, this place seems old, worn, devoid of color or spirit. Wait, it has a spirit. You just have to stand still for a bit and focus on it for a bit.

Your turn: A place that seemed monochrome as soon as you laid eyes on it. Please discuss.

5 comments:

Beverly said...

Before I saw where you had taken that photo, I thought it liked several places I've seen here in Florida...motels that once were busy, and now sit silent.

smarmoofus said...

I'm not sure why this photograph gave me the chills, but it did. I think that's funny, because when I was really young, my family annually traveled across country (California to Arkansas to Minnesota to California) to visit my parents' families, and we would usually stay in inexpensive places like this (if my parents didn't just take turns and drive all night). But the hotels were relatively new and still "alive" back then. Now it's all hotel chains and name-brands, and places like this are either abandoned or let out as tiny apartments or rural "strip malls".

An evocative image, to be sure. There's one in the town where I live now that I'm convinced we stayed at on one visit here to visit my grandparents. My mother says we never stayed there. But I remember playing in the pool they had in the middle of the parking lot.

-smarmoofus

D.O.M. Dan said...

The last time I saw a motel like that it had the name Bates on the sign.

Michael Manning said...

Ah, Carmi-you've brought back a nice memory. While visiting my Grandmother in Royal Oak, Michigan as a tot, I had the nerve to take the family black & white Kodak Brownie camera and walk up Rochester Boulevard to snap photos of an abandoned gas station I found so intriguing. The old gas pumps had a glass bubble with colored wooden marbles that spun wildly while one filled their gas tank. When we returned home to Ohio, I happened to be with my Dad during a trip to pick up our film at Walgreen's. I denied any knowledge of the photos! Thankfully, I wasn't swatted on the butt! I wish I still had those photos!! To this day, abandoned buildings hold a fascination for me as holding untold stories. Great post, Carmi!

Mojo said...

This place actually reminds me a little of a couple of small family-run motels in Potsdam, NY that I've stayed in while taking care of the business of getting my son enrolled/auditioned/oriented/moved in at SUNY-Potsdam. They weren't in this state of decay though. To speak to your question though, I think the most recent place I've been that seemed like it was black and white the moment I laid eyes on it was the area of Bethlehem, PA on the mill side of the river. And that's all I can really say without turning this into a post-sized comment.