Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Weathervane Wednesday ~ An Old Familiar Sign

Weathervane Wednesday is an on-going series of photographs I post weekly.  I started by publishing weather vanes from the Londonderry area, but now I've been finding interesting weather vanes all across New England.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting. Often, my readers tip me off to some very unique and unusual weather vanes, too! Today's weather vane was spotted in West Boylston, Massachusetts.

Do you know the location of weather vane #169? Scroll down to the bottom to see the answer!

Today's weather vane was seen along Route 12 in West Boylston, Massachusetts.  It's a "blast from the past" for anyone who remembers the New England countryside dotted with Howard Johnson motels and restaurants.  This two dimensional scene of a child and a lamplighter was sometimes seen atop the orange roofs as a "Simple Simon met a Pie Man" scene from the nursery rhyme.

This orange roofed HoJo motel is now the Classic Suites and Inns.  They have kept the orange roofed building as a reception area, and kept the original weather vane.  It's a true piece of 20th Century Americana, dating back to the days when American first hit the road for vacations with their automobiles.  Most rest areas on the Massachusetts Turnpike and other major highways had Howard Johnson's restaurants in the mid 20th century.

An old Howard Johnson's postcard 
The first Howard Johnson restaurant was established in 1925 as a soda fountain in Quincy, Massachusetts.  During the 20th century the chain grew to over 1,000 restaurants, spurred on by the incredible post World War II boom in highways and automobile sales.  But in the 1970s a combination of events led to the chain being sold off- the gas crisis, the death of the original Howard Deering Johnson in 1972, fast food drive through chains like McDonalds, and the sale of the chain to Marriot in 1985 (who had no interest in the restaurants and closed them).  There are only two Howard Johnson's still operating in locations at  Bangor Maine and Lake Placid, New York.

There is a book about the history of this restaurant chain, with a photo of this weathervane on the cover!  A History of Howard Johnson's: How a Massachusetts Soda Fountain Became an American Icon by Anthony Mitchell Sammarco, The History Press, 2013 (also available on Kindle)

Click here to hear an interview with Anthony Sammarco about his book on Howard Johnson's from the Fieldstone Common website:

Classic Suites and Inns website

Click here to see the entire collection of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

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Copyright 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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