Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mad Men and a Sentimental Journey

The Old Howard Johnson's

Sunday night's Mad Men episode "Far Away Places" brought back some fond memories of my childhood.  Several scenes in that episode took place at a Howard Johnson's restaurant. It made me think of the times my grandparents would take me back to Greensboro after spending time with them in Raleigh. The trips back to Greensboro was always sad for me. I loved Raleigh and being with my grandparents; I didn't particularly like Greensboro.

About a mile from my old home, a Howard Johnson's stood off of S. Elm-Eugene St near where it crossed over I-85 (I-40 at the time ended a mile away by Randleman Road). When my grandparents pulled off the interstate onto S. Elm-Eugene, I knew the party was over and the jig was up. I had to return to reality.

But sometimes a miracle occurred. My grandparents would ask me and my brother if we wanted to have dinner at Howard Johnson's. Of course we said "yes." By doing so, we extended our vacation and were able to spend a few more moments with my grandparents.

I don't remember much about the food there. I still hear people look back with fondness about some clam dish they had, maybe a clam sandwich. I liked their hot dogs with just ketchup. I was a finicky eater as a kid. I do distinctly remember love eating dessert: a brownie with ice cream and fudge on it.

I heard there are only one or two Howard Johnson's restaurants still operating. I know it's not the one near my old house. That placed closed around 30 years ago. I think the old building is now a Mexican restaurant.

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