The Enchanted Forest: Remembrance & Revival

enchanted village ellicott cityIt isn’t that often anymore that you simply stumble on a long-lost relic of the American roadside, but so it was this weekend when I visited Ellicott City, Maryland.  On my way to the Double T Diner, I looked up to see Old King Cole beckoning with his outstretched arm for me to enter The Enchanted Forest. Well, the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, anyway.

Upon return, I did some research, and discovered that this once-charming children’s park was the second “theme park” to open in the U. S., after the original Disneyland.  The year was 1955.  Those post war years when everything seemed to promise a sort of storybook future.

Well, you know the rest of the story.  Eventually, as the area grew, the park was downsized, sold off and closed.

But what you don’t know is the wonderful “rest of the story” (apologies to Paul Harvey)  A substantial portion of the original buildings and figurines were acquired by Clark’s Elioak Farm.  I’ll let them tell the story.  It’s a wonderful chance for children and the adults who once visited the original park to enjoy it again — and they deserve a huge “thank you.”

You’ll find other Enchanted Forest info here and here.



Buzzfeed get diners wrong, mostly

boulevard diner worcesterIn it’s ongoing attempt to create click bait for millions of bored web surfers, Buzzfeed recently published a list of the “21 American diner you should eat in before you die.”

There are some classic, notable diners in the bunch;  The Miss Worcester, Mickeys, Tops, but also a whole raft of wannabees and neverweres.  My fav amongst that group is “Slim Goodies,” which, we are told “…has been serving up creole goodness for nearly 12 years.”  Really?  Twelve whole years?  That makes it a classic in my book anytime!

For our part, if we had to pick one diner in Worcester to highlight it would have been the venerable Boulevard, not Miss Worcester, despite that diner’s close connection to the Worcester Lunch Car Manufacturing Company.

Anyway, we just wanted to share the link, on the off chance that you’re one of the five or six people who hadn’t seen it already…

The Roadside, In the Rearview Mirror….

overnight cabins old signIt has been a long time coming, but it was always inevitable, particularly in a nation which seems to value “new and shiny” over just about anything else. I’m speaking of the general state of the American roadside at this date and time.  Though much that we love remains, much has been lost, and continues to be bulldozed each year.  Just try finding a classic old motel in your corner of the nation, or a diner, or a drive in.  Most of the motels have been swept away in an almost manic building spree led by the Hiltons, Holiday Inns and Marriotts, who now manage a diverse group of properties, each aimed at a certain niche in the market. Fran and Bill’s Motel is, for the most part, a distant inn great sign

Was that always the way this was going to go down?  I suppose so.

Many early mom and pop motels were (generally) thrown up quickly and cheaply. As American’s took to the roads, particularly after WWII, the need arose and it was filled.  But it wasn’t long before the Holiday Inn, with its “great sign” began to challenge the independent operators.

So, what to do?  Well, the only option is to get out there and find what’s left!  There are still a lot of small businesses hanging on, but it’s always a question of just how long.  When you drive by them the next time — you may see only a pile of debris.  So, don’t delay.  Hit the road.  Today or tomorrow or this weekend, but do it!  Now.


Former Julian’s restaurant sold, to be torn down

Local entrepreneur and restaurateur L. Gale Lemerand has bought the closed Julian’s Dining Room & Lounge from the Lopez family who built the iconic beachside restaurant in 1967.

News-Journal/BOB KOSLOW The iconic Julian’s Dining Room & Lounge at 88 S. Atlantic Ave in Ormond Beach has been bought and will be torn down in early 2015.  The 10,000-square-foot, A-frame building at 88 S. Atlantic Ave. in Ormond Beach has been closed for more than two years and will most likely be torn down in early 2015, but the site’s future use is still undecided, Lemerand said.


When one door closes….

Welcome back to The American Roadside.  In just a few short years, much has changed along the road, and much of it has been for the worse.  Whole swaths of the old American roadside has been obliterated.  Just try finding a small, mom & pop diner anymore or a motel, other than in a 1930’s movie on TCM.  They have been bulldozed.  And, unfortunately, many of the memories have been buried in the rubble with them.

However, all is not lost!  For my fellow travelers along that long stretch of macadam, there is still a lot to be seen and appreciated.

It’s good to be back on the road!