Smith's Tourist Court

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.

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