Howard Johnsons - Wednesday, January 20, 2016

If you are not wearing glasses but need to to see properly, we assure you this image is in focus!

If you are not wearing glasses but need to to see properly, we assure you this image is in focus!

The American Treasure Tour is a truly wonderful place for many reasons.  One is that we have blended the amazing mechanical technology of old with new, digital technology.  But that still does not account for human limitations.  That may help explain why some of the pictures used on this blog appear out of focus. We would like to say that's because of minor earthquakes, but really it has everything to do with the amateur photographer who takes the pictures. Also, we want to tantalize you into coming to visit. If the pictures came out as incredibly as they look in person, what would be your motivation, really?  We do it for you.  Please remember that.

The year was 1925, and a man named Howard Deering Johnson of Quincy, Massachusetts wanted to open a restaurant, but could only get enough money for a soda fountain. His big seller was ice cream, so he made lots of flavors, adding extra butterfat for that sweet touch of goodness. They did well enough that he got the funding he needed for a restaurant.  Then, the Eugene O'Neill play Strange Interlude came to town because Boston's mayor banned it. Qunicy put it on and the hoi polloi came to town, discovered Howard Johnson's, and word of mouth turned the restaurant into a success.  The Great Depression slowed things down, but hardly stopped the growth of HJ, which became one of the first 'modern' franchises out there. A boon to their success was the construction of turnpikes in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey. HJ got exclusive rights to build service station turnoffs, and business flourished.  

By 1954, there were four hundred Howard Johnson's restaurants in thirty-two states, making it one of the country's first major chains. In that year, they opened their first hotel, in Savannah, Georgia. They were pretty much everywhere.  Within twenty years, one thousand restaurants and five hundred hotels dotted the country.  1975 was they peak for HJ.  Then, a few things happened.  The oil embargo of 1974 compelled many Americans to stay at home.  The hotels suffered.  And fast food restaurants including McDonald's severely impacted the restaurant clientele.  The Marriott group bought them out in the 1980's, but that really didn't help.  Today, there are only two restaurants remaining open (unless that's changed by now!), although the hotel chain continues to provide lodging for travelers.
QUESTION:  Howard Johnson's has the distinction of being an early company to incorporate product placement in a movie.  In which movie did the corporate name or logo appear multiple times?
A)  2001, A Space Odyssey  (1968) 
B)  Holiday Inn   (1942)
C)  Stagecoach (1939)
D)  Easy Rider (1969)

FREE!  On this day next year, the 45th President of the United States will be inaugurated.  Part of the fun of being an American is knowing this, even though we don't know who it will be, what they will be bringing to the plate, and how they will impact our country.  Another fun part of it is that there will be plenty of people who love what the new Prez does, and plenty who will hate them.  That was the case in 1981. Twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the Iranian government released fifty-two American hostages.  They clearly were not big fans of Jimmy Carter... 

HAPPY CENTENNIAL!  Born today in 1896 was future comedian, singer and actor Nathan Birnbaum, more famously known as George Burns.  With his famous wife Gracie Allen, George Burns starred in films starting in the early-1930's, and he continued long after her death in 1964.  In fact, George's last film was Radioland Murders in 1994, only two years before his death at the age of 100.

QUOTE:  Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. - George Burns

ANSWER:  A)  2001, A Space Odyssey