When the last Howard Johnson’s closed in Lake George, N.Y., last week memories of past HoJo’s encounters flooded back.
I’m guessing it did for a lot of New Englanders who craved their clam strips and 28 flavors of ice cream.
McDonald’s killed HoJo’s, some say.
The Howard Johnson’s chain, 1,000 outlets strong in the 1960s and 1970s, was magical. At least it was for your resident archivist. Today’s “From the Archives” is a brief memory from the past for a restaurant and the slightly dyslexic among us.
Let me explain.
My now 93-year-old father would take me to Red Sox games in the late 1960s when Elston Howard, George Scott, Ken Harrelson, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Lonborg, Reggie Smith and more lived the “impossible dream” of almost going all the way.
The deal was I’d wiggle to the front of the line for bleacher seats — I swear $8-a-seat sticks in my mind — and he’d treat me to ice cream at HoJo’s nearby on the way home. I never told him, but I was happy just to sit in the bleachers. I can still hear some people in my mind razz “Hawk” Harrelson for having long hair showing out his cap.
Who cares? I thought to myself. I loved those games and still do.
But one night after the game, I ordered a blueberry sundae. What I really wanted was a soda. A clump of vanilla ice cream slathered in blueberry pie filling atop a tall glass of bubbly water infused with syrup.
Instead, I was served a giant sundae that I struggled to finish. I felt like a spoiled glutton.
Times were tight. I wanted to be a good companion and not ask for anything. I brought my baseball glove to catch a homer (it never happened until I did snag a towering foul ball along the first-base line decades later with my kids watching.)
But I kept kicking myself for years for mixing up my HoJo’s specialties. I made a similar mistake a few years earlier when I asked for a microscope for Christmas instead of a telescope. I wanted to look at the stars, still do, not my hair or spit my brother and I decided to examine. We were just trying to make the best of a mistake.
The HoJo’s waitress congratulated me on such a skinny kid downing a mammoth sundae. I had to. How could I waste this rare outing?
HoJo’s was a treat. A safe place to pull over on road trips — we took a lot back then, but I’ll save that for another day.
Change is constant. Time is relative. I recite both to myself daily. But memories are forever. I’ll miss Howard Johnson’s. Here’s a few more photos from our archives and all emails for future ideas — or your memories — are welcome to [email protected].
(100909, Boston, MA) Historic photo of what now is the Howard Johnson Hotel Fenway Friday, October 09, 2009. saved in Saturday. APR 16 1972Howard Johnson NOV 7 1961Wearing A New Howard Johnson Hat … Howard B Johnson, president of Howard Johnson Company, tacks the company’s famous symbol on the 12-story motor lodge under construction on Eighth Avenue between Fifty-first and Fifty-second Streets, while Preston R Tisch, president of Loew’s Hotels, samples one of the 28 flavors that will soon be available there. Mrs. Tod Chernak has been named Massachusetts’ best waitress, making her eligible to compete for the national title at the National Restaurant Convention in Chicago, May 11. Mrs. Chernak, mother of two children, is an employe of the Howard Johnson restaurant, route 2, Concord. New Orleans policemen fire into once Howard Johnson Hotel where they thought snipers were holding up he effort by police failed to flush out any additional snipers other than the one shod killed Sunday night atop the building.1/9/1975
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