Sentimental Journey, Part 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

When last we met, we were in Milford, Pennsylvania, basking in the glow of the early morning neon while on our way to my wife’s ancestral home in the Catskills. Still traveling the back roads into the town of Matamoras, we crossed the Delaware in to New York. The bridge to the town of Port Jervis is one of those steel grate jobs, the older kind that makes you change lanes against your will. By the time we landed in New York we both needed dramamines but we soldiered on, undeterred.

I could have continued on US 209, which would have been longer, but decided to get on NY 42, which was more direct. I was convinced we wouldn’t see anything along this section, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that I had gotten some good stuff in Milford. And almost immediately as I started to think that, something came into view that made my poor heart beat.

“Oh, my…” Laura said.

A beat-up motel. One of those places that seems to only exist for long-term clients. But a nice old sign at the top, rusting at the edges:


Laura gets excited as she stares it down, but I see something else as I look around for some place to pull over: the motel is not alone. Up on the hill sits another building, a large, three-story faded beauty that looks more like an old plantation than something you’d see in upstate New York. And topping it, another neon sign, which has the matching Alexander name:

alexander-hotel alexander-hotel-close

From the little I can gather on the interwebs, this was originally called the Raymar Hotel, and it opened in the late 1800’s. It’s in the town of Sparrowbush, and it was an antique shop for a time, but it has since closed and remains vacant.

The motel, however, is still going, and really looks like the motels of yesteryear:



We moved on, and here’s the good news: we made it up to the house where Laura was born. We took some shots outside (pardon me for not sharing, but we wanted to keep this part private) and saw that no one seemed to be home. Laura was quietly devastated. She wanted to go inside the old house in the worst way. So we decided to go next door to see if anyone there knew anything about who lived there now and if they would be back. As we did, a couple with a baby came walking down the old country road. Laura asked them about the house, showed them the yellowing pictures she had.

“You mean, this house?” the woman said, and pointed at it. We nodded. “That’s the house we’re renting this weekend!”

So the upshot is this: not only did we get to go inside, but we discovered that we can rent the house for a weekend if we want to. Laura was shaking her head in disbelief the whole weekend.

The bad news: there was some festival going on in the town of Liberty on July 4th (go figure) and the sign shots I planned to take didn’t materialize. But, I’ve added those signs to my new section: Scott’s Online To-Do List. If you see anything on there, or better yet, if you don’t see anything on there that you think I should get, please leave a comment!

More signs to come from this trip, when I crossed off my first sign from the to-do list…

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