Color TV! And Other Signs You Don't See Often Anymore...

Don’t know what made me think of it today, but can remember as a kid driving on vacations with my parents and seeing motel signs - back then, the key word seemed to be “modern”. Always “modern” rooms (whatever that meant) and then they started adding that they had “Color Televisions” and sometimes a big deal was to put “Air-conditioned” as well.

Granted, color televisions were a big deal then (pricey) and not all motels had air conditioning (expensive) but it sort of made me smile thinking about those big “come on’s” that enticed the traveler back then.

I’m old enough I can remember when TV shows advertised they were being broadcast in color.

Stores had signs saying they were air conditioned. I don’t recall the exact wording. Something like “shop in cool refreshing comfort”. A big deal when it was a 100 degrees in the south. Stores like Woolworths and the Rexall drug often got AC first.

Some of the rural country stores still weren’t air conditioned in the 1960’s. It sure made reaching into that ice cooler for a soda a treat. Sodas taste better when you’re sweaty.

“Continental breakfast”
As a kid I was in love with these signs till I found that the pools were most times empty and the breakfast was just a piece of fruit and a slice of toast.

HBO. This used to be everywhere.

I’m not that old, but I remember signs promoting “Hot and cold running water” as a selling point of seaside guesthouses here in the UK. (And to be honest that was sometimes a little optimistic.)

I remember seeing the sign for some rural movie theaters, too. My grandmother told me that sometimes the theater was one of the few air conditioned building in town, and people would pay their ten cents just to sit in air conditioned comfort for a couple of hours.

I can see that. Our power went out in our house in south Louisiana for three days after a hurricane. The truck stop casino across the interstate was one of the first buildings in the area to get power back, so my wife and I each took twenty dollars and tried to milk it as long as we could at the video poker machines just for the cool, cool air. It was well worth it.

I remember the “Air Conditioned” signs…Blue letters with icicles hanging from them.

Within the last year I was about five miles down the street that my office is on in central NJ, and passed through an area that, let’s just say, is slightly depressed. There are a couple ‘no tell motels’ on each side of the highway, and one was advertising “Color TV - Free Wireless Internet”.

This was right after I had returned from a business trip to Nashville and stayed at the Opryland resort, where wireless internet cost $9.99/day, on top of the $275/night room rate.


I’ve seen a few motel signs lately saying “American Owned”, which sounds like codespeak to me. Need to take some pictures.

I have seen “Heated Pool”, the one I use to enjoy the most was “Steam heat in every room”, I believe that was the DeAnza hotel downtown San Jose.

Typically, cheap, independent motels offer free wireless. Expensive, chain hotels always charge for it.

Probably, the assumption is that the majority of people in the high-end places are business travelers who are willing to pay for it.

When vacationing, free WiFI is definitely something we look for.

You know you’re either in a time warp or in a bad area when the motel sign features the trifecta:

Air Conditioned Rooms
RCA Color TV
Direct Dial Phones

Way back when… I’d visit relatives in the summer. In one town near them there was a bar that advertised “x degrees cooler inside” with the number changing based on the outside temperature. I only saw it in the afternoons during the summer though. So I’ll never know what it said in the dead of winter. E.g., “-40 degrees cooler inside”, did they shut it off, or what?

“Come on in, it’s KOOL inside” with the Kool cigarettes logo.

Many stores here weren’t air conditioned until the 70’s. I did not ever attend an air-conditioned school, for example (graduated in '77).

Do they still use the Buffet signs on the Interstate?

I recall family vacations in the early 70’s. Dad rarely stopped at regular restaurants. He’d wait until he saw a restaurant advertised that had the buffet sign. He’d pull off the Interstate and we’d finally eat. Looking back, it probably was much cheaper eating at buffets. Dad had to make the vacation money stretch.

A big lit up generic “EAT” sign, lighting up the nighttime sky for the weary driver like a beacon. I know of three restaurants in the general area that have a neon “EAT” sign in their windows. It sounds so, I dunno, generic - even the thruway rest stops have (thankfully) been taken over by Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, etc.

I’m curious as to what you think it’s code for. It looks like obviousspeak to me.

Usually advertising at a run-down, crummy 1950’s style motel.
Most of the time, its a algae-ridden, scummy little thing, gross!
I’ve noticed that these places are all near Rt95-for the “snowbird” trade (migration to Florida in October-November).

I found a replica “cool off inside” sign on ebay. There were a lot of variations. One poster above mentioned the letters with icicles. Those were pretty common.