Monday, January 2, 2023

1972 conversation pit (aka sunkenarium) at a Holiday Inn

This postcard, mailed in 1972, showcases the the grooviness that is "The Conversation Pit" that once resided within the "fully appointed lobby" of the Holiday Inn at the corner of Routes 22 and 512 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "Sunkenarium" is a synonym for "sunken living room" that a select groovy few of us have used over the years. And this conversation pit certainly qualifies, complete with its very 1970s carpeting that certainly saw more than its share of cigarette ash and spilled drinks. Grody.

Speaking of sunken living rooms, I stumbled across the existence of a 2000 book titled Quads, Shoeboxes and Sunken Living Rooms: A History of Los Alamos Housing. Then I learned more about this extremely niche topic via an August 2022 post on the blog "Kendra Ruminer's Two Cents of Real Estate." Kendra writes:
"In the late 1940s and early 1950s, housing was the constant social topic in Los Alamos. Norris Bradbury was very concerned about living situations for his workers at the Laboratory and there was no doubt that things were tight."
To tackle the need for housing, one neighborhood that was quickly constructed contained, Kendra notes, "13 two bedroom duplexes – 26 units – that had 'Sunken Living Rooms'. These quickly became the most sought after homes in Los Alamos thanks to this 'unique' feature!"

(To set aside sunkenariums for a moment, if the United States could once manage a mini-Manhattan Project of construction to tackle the housing needed for the actual Manhattan Project, you'd think our nation today could prioritize another construction surge to tackle the dual, crisis-level shortfalls in affordable housing and quality long-term shelter for the homeless. Just saying.)

Getting back to this particular postcard, it was published by KARDmasters of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The message is dated July 15, 1972, and it was written in Absecon, New Jersey, which is about two hours southeast of Bethlehem. It was mailed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The cursive message states:
Dear Florence, 
We are here at my sisters — one of her grands Carol is being married to-day — 3 weeks ago we were to the wedding of Carol's brother. We are hopeing to get to see you one of these days. Will give you a call before we come to see if it suits. Hope this finds you doing OK. love as always
H and Anna

Sunday, January 1, 2023

First postcard of 2023: A card written while drunk in 1975

Happy New Year! This is the 950th Papergreat post that falls under the "Postcards" label. That's a lot of postcards. Featured on the front of the card is the lobby of the Memphis East Ramada Inn in Tennessee. The hotel was located at 5225 Summer Avenue and that location later became a Welcome Inn and then an Extended Stay Memphis, which is now listed on Google as "Permanently Closed." But perhaps permanent isn't exactly permanent. The Google reviews from the past few months seem to tell a sad story of a badly struggling hotel whose owners may be trying to get it back on its feet.

This is what it looked like a half-century ago, anyway. I don't think the photograph does it any favors. While that carpeting may be gold, it comes off as vaguely pea-green in the image. I have plenty of misplaced nostalgia for the 1970s, but even I know it wasn't the prettiest period in history.

The preprinted back of the postcard pitches the Memphis East Ramada Inn as having a friendly atmosphere for weary travelers, vacationers and "the casual party-giver." 

"Casual party-giver" is not a phrase you see very often, especially on postcards, but it feels very much like 1970s code.

This card was mailed in August 1975 with a Skylab stamp that was first issued in May 1974. It was mailed to Rick, (aka "Z") in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and the message — from someone who appears to be nicknamed "No-Bake" — is a hoot. The writer has added marginalia all over the card, including "I'm drunk" on the right-hand side. There's a line stating, "Why are you holding this card upside down?" And "P.S. — Ah — skip it!" 

The primary portion of the message to "Z" states:
Greetings geek,
Having a wonderful time, glad your not here! But seriously, this place is great, huge rooms, party every night, school — well 3 out of 4.5 ain't bad — wait — 2 out of 3 ain't bad (same thing). Well, rember above all BOOGIE

Guess Who? (Natchez?) No-Bake.  

"Rember," indeed.