Friday, April 9, 2010

The Color T.V. Motel

Elton Baum told me that U Betcha's Fountain, his old-fashioned drug store and soda fountain, minus the pharmacy, is off to a good start. So he's got a new project: re-opening the Color T.V. Motel, out on the old highway.

The Color T.V. Motel was going to be "Johnson's Motel" back in the early fifties. Then Melvin Johnson's custom-made sign arrived. The words "COLOR T.V." and "MOTEL" were there, as specified.

"JOHNSON'S," though, wasn't on the sign. At all. The only place his name appeared in the shipment was on the invoice – and the bill.

He couldn't afford another sign, since the outfit he'd worked with wouldn't fix the problem, or refund what he'd already paid them. Then the company went out of business: leaving Mr. Johnson with a brand-new sign that wasn't what he'd ordered.

We have a saying in Minnesota: "It could be worse." Mr. Johnson applied this grim wisdom, re-named his motel to match the sign and opened in time for the tourist season.

Years later the Interstate came. Folks seldom used the old highway, except for local traffic. The Color T.V. Motel closed its doors.

The buildings have gone through several hands since then, being used mostly as rental housing. The property went up for sale again this year. Elton Baum bought the land and buildings, but says he doesn't plan to restore the motel right away.

"It'll be a huge job. Besides, I'd like to give the folks living there time to find new homes."

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