I saw it from the interstate, the old, neglected, neon, motel sign sitting along old Route 66. I had to exit and go back.
The old motel was as neglected as the sign. This place hasn’t had a patron in ages. The old lobby was being used as a shop of sorts, and the open sign was on.
Sometimes when I take shots of things like this I’ll ask permission, hopefully meeting someone interesting along the way.
The nice lady who ran the place is a painter and the little store was full of pottery she had painted as well as an inventory of blanks waiting their turn. The smell of paints and chemicals filled the place.
She explained that her family had bought the place and lived there. As she pointed out various trailers around the main building she let me know “my dad lives behind in that one and my sister is over in that one. I’m on the side, there.”
After a short chat, she gave me permission to take pictures of the old sign.
As I walked out, a man I presumed to be her father walked over and we started talking cars. He ran through a list of regrets, like the 1955 Lincoln Zephyr he let go for $50. There were a few Packards on the list, too. I don’t remember them all, but anyone who is into cars can relate to “the one that got away.”
“Can I take your picture?” I asked, scoping out a position that would allow me to get him, the sign, and maybe a hint of my ride. I shook his hand and introduced myself and he told me his name is Ken Poteet.
He is a pleasant guy and was glad to oblige me as he walked over and leaned against my Volkswagen.
We continued to talk as I snapped away. Being film, not digital, the definition of “snapped away” is more like “I took a few shots of him.”
We talked about Oklahoma, where he was raised, cars, and anything else that bubbles to the top.
“I remember Pearl Harbor,” he said, which would have been random and out of the blue were it not December 7th.
“I was 10 years old,” he continued. Then he looked at me with a serious eye and said “That’s what started World War II, you know. It was all over the news.”