Dr. Patrick’s Postcard Roadside

The Plank Road

The Plank Road constructed across the Imperial Sand Dunes in 1915 was rebuilt by the California Highway Department a year later.

The narrow, one-track road with turnouts for opposing traffic to pass was difficult to keep clear of drifting sand dunes. It was nonetheless the main road between Yuma and San Diego until 1926 when a wider, paved road was built across the dunes on a high berm for transcontinental U.S. 80. It took a long time for the Plank Road to deteriorate in the arid climate of the Imperial Valley. A 1,500-foot segment of the old wooden road still exists, hobbled together in the 1970s from scattered remnant pieces as an historic landmark located on Grays Wells Road just south of Interstate 8.

The Molly Pitcher Hotel

The Molly Pitcher Hotel

The Molly Pitcher Hotel opened on South Hanover Street in downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1919. It was built tight against the sidewalk and up against the adjacent buildings in the traditional way of the Pennsylvania Dutch towns.

The hotel’s namesake was town heroine Mary Ludwig, known as Molly Pitcher after the she followed her husband to the 1778 Battle of Monmouth and gained fame by dropping the pitcher she used to water the men to man her wounded husband’s cannon. A few steps from the Cumberland County Courthouse, the Molly was Carlisle’s flagship hotel, catering to an upscale clientele that cemented its reputation as the social center of town and place to go for fine dining. The 1940s postcard depicting the dining room and lounge shows a Dutchy-Modern décor with Streamline Moderne chairs and mirrored pillars surrounded by homey plant-painted walls. “The Molly” took on a different connotation in the 1960s and 1970s when it became a single-room occupancy hotel for the poor. Since 2004, it has been upgraded and restored and operates as a senior citizens apartment building.

The Westporter

The Westporter

The Westporter was a sprawling, U-shaped motel complex built in the 1950s on the burgeoning Boston Post Road commercial strip between Norwalk and Westport, Connecticut.

This was part of U.S. 1, the well-traveled main road between New York City and Boston before the 1958 opening of the Connecticut Turnpike. The postcard depicts the Westporter at its peak in the 1960s after it had attracted a stainless steel diner to its central court and opened a built-in swimming pool. The tides of fortune turned for the Westporter in the 1970s when it was operating as a seedy residence motel, reaching its nadir in 1978 when two female residents were murdered and dumped in a nearby woods. Life moved on along the Boston Post Road, but without the Westporter, bulldozed and buried under a subsequent parking lot.