Dr. Patrick’s Postcard Roadside

Smith's Tourist Court

Mayme Smith’s motel and service station

Route 36 was the not-40 way across the Midwest in the pre-Interstate past, a less-traveled shortcut that went for miles and miles with nary a curve through not-much.

Federal Highway 40 was the Big Road, the 4-lane, the transcontinental with the historic ties to the National Road that linked Columbus to Indianapolis to St. Louis to Kansas City to Denver. Running parallel and some 20 to 50 miles to the north, US 36 did bend into Indianapolis but mostly it served lesser places like Greenville, Ohio, Decatur, Illinois, St. Joseph, Missouri, Smith Center, Kansas, and Jacksonville, Illinois, where the fuel-short and road weary could resupply at Mayme Smith’s motel and service station. Smith’s went from Modern Cabins to Tourist Court to Motel in a series of upgrades always accompanied by a new set of postcards. Here, the double room cabins come complete with red C-Spring porch chairs, a 1950s motel classic. The support frame for the metal chairs is indeed shaped like a “C,” but the C stands for cantilevered, which is how the chair is suspended without the need for rear legs giving it that unmistakable bounce.

Golden Star Diner

The mobile, prefabricated restaurant known as the diner originating in the mill towns of New England in the 1870s, but shifted to New Jersey in the early 20th century where manufacturers like O’Mahony, Fodero, Kullman, Paramount, Paterson Vehicle, Mountain View, and Swingle scattered diners to the roadside.

Dripping stainless steel Modernity, the Golden Star Diner was a mid-1950s O’Mahony that served the ceaseless stream of traffic thundering through Little Falls, New Jersey, on US 46, main road west from the George Washington Bridge. Following the path of successful diner operators, the owners traded up for a bigger, newer model in the late-1960s.

Club Flamingo

Club Flamingo

The dinner-dance club was a staple in every urban entertainment district in the country from the 1930s into the 1960s.

It was celebrated in dozens of Hollywood movies of the same vintage where the young couple crowded at little, candle-lit table to see a floor show, a singing act and then dance. The favorite nightclub décor was anything tropical-exotic, like Chicago’s colorful Club Flamingo on Madison Avenue just west of the Loop.