Dr. Patrick’s Postcard Roadside

Surf Ballroom

Surf Ballroom

On the Day the Music Died, February 3, 1959, the plane that lifted Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson into a fateful snowstorm departed from Clear Lake, Iowa, bound for the next venue on their Winter Dance Party tour in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Their final performance was at Clear Lake’s Surf Ballroom. With dancing America’s favorite communal activity ballrooms and nightclubs were scattered across the commercial roadside. Carl Fox opened the Surf Ballroom in 1934, adding another attraction to the amusement park and spring-fed lake already in this vacation spot of north central Iowa. The South Seas island-themed ballroom depicted on this postcard, however, was not the one that hosted the Winter Dance Party. This ball room burned to the ground on April 20, 1947. The Winter Dance Part was hosted in its Modernist replacement, which continues to operate.

The Dalles

This 1950s view of The Dalles, Oregon, preserves the “Gas Station Cluster at the Edge of Town” that once book-ended America’s small town Main streets.

Here, 2nd Street carries westbound US 30 traffic downtown past 6 service stations, including 2 Texacos. In most towns, the Gas Station Cluster has been replaced by one or two large convenience store-gas stations. In The Dalles, 0 of these 6 gas stations have survived, replaced by one large Sinclair convenience store on East 3rd Street.

Lazy L Motel

Back in the 1950s the Lazy L Motel served those lonely motorists traveling through Osborne, Kansas on US 281.

This Great Plains highway stretched unobstructed for miles and miles of miles and miles from Canadian border at North Dakota’s International Peace Garden to the Mexican border at Brownsville, Texas. The open-L design of this integrated motel may have inspired the name.