Sunday, August 13, 2017

The last HoJos

I've gotten into the habit of listening to “BBC America” and am often surprised by the range of topics they air. Last week they had a segment about the last Howard Johnson store going out of business. I couldn't help but laugh when I heard this. It reminded me of a time when my mother would have been thrilled to hear the news.

My father died in 1960 and a year later my mother's only sister passed away too. She and her husband lived in Vermont but had spent the winter months at their second home in Florida for many years. In the mid 60's our uncle invited mother to join him in Florida. He offered to pick her up in Massachusetts and they would then wend their way South in his big old black Buick.

For those of you too young to know the Howard Johnson chain was THE place to eat in those years. The colorful orange roof and the 28 flavors of ice cream were merely backdrops for the menu of comfort food as mother was to find out. Ho-Jos, as it was known, was everywhere and it was the ONLY place that our Uncle would eat. He was very set in his ways and no amount of coaxing by mother could convince him to eat elsewhere.

Mother finally gave up since he was the one financing the trip but I remember clearly when she told me “If I never hear another word about the sizable portions and the tender-sweet clam strips it will be too soon !” 

Rest in peace Mother … your wish is fulfilled.


Blogger Marie Smith said...

Great story, Ginnie. It brought a chuckle this morning. Take care.

5:13 AM  
Blogger Grace-WorkinProgress said...

We had one here an my ex and I would get ice cream in the middle of the night when nothing was open. It was a terrible place and I can't believe there was even one store left.

My Aunt loved them forcing us on two holiday occasions to eat there. Christmas eve - We were the only ones there it was drafty and the food was bad - the other Thanksgiving buffet - really bad food. She was delusional - I guess living in some past fantasy when they first opened. I got sick that Christmas eve.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

Didn't know they were out of business. Oh yes, I remember those clam strips. Pretty sure they could get old if that was the only place you got to eat.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I have never eaten at one, but they weren't too common in Canada AFAIK.

4:21 AM  
Blogger possum said...

How I loved Ho-Jo's! Ours was on the mountain right across from the entrance to the PA Turnpike. The scene out the huge windows was beautiful and breakfast was the highlight of my week - REAL blueberry pancakes, a pot of coffee on the table, what more could anyone ask for? OH right, a carton of coffee ice cream on the way out for dessert that night. Sigh. It was almost as good as breakfast in Maine with their blueberry pancakes. Siiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhhhhhh. Nuts. I am drooling thinking about it. We almost never ate dinner there, unless it was the only place open when we first arrived, as often happened. After driving 300 miles and opening a house that had been closed for 9 months, who wants to drive another 20 miles to find a place open for dinner?
If a Ho-Jo's opened around here - I would be there for breakfast tomorrow morning!

Fun story, Ginnie. Such memories. I can still see the mountainside. A family of scarlet tanagers had a nest on the edge of the property. You could see the deer mosey by, groundhogs, and once in a while a black bear. Loved it!

8:41 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

My family never took road trips when I was growing up, so while I knew about Ho-Jos, I never ate in one then or as an adult. However, there was one located in North plainfield, NJ, on Rte 22 for many years.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

An update, Ginnie, as we are on a short road trip for our anniversary and after reading your post and commenting, I saw a Howard Johnson in Williamstown, MA !

2:27 PM  
Blogger joared said...

Can recal when Ho-Jo's were the only places to stop and eat along the fly on long trips across country, so glad to see them pop up then. Didn't know they had gone out of business.

3:46 PM  

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