The Flame Motel and other horrors

Haunted House

During my 23 years in the Air Force, I moved 9 times. Most moves were uneventful, but every now and then…

In 1973 as we traveled across Texas it was late at night when we finally stopped.  It was almost a scene out of a horror movie.  The rain was pouring down, and thunder and lightning crashed in the night sky.  I remember looking out the windshield and seeing the sign “Flame Motel”  through the rain streaked windshield.   We had not planned to drive so long that day, but for some reason we had not made a reservation for the evening, figuring we could find a place.  So here it was about 11 p.m. and we were dead tired.

Wait I know you are thinking did I see this story in a movie.  You know tired traveler stops at the Bates Motel for the evening.  Well it wasn’t quite that bad and yet ….

I parked the car and went into the office to register.  I should have known that this was not the usual place we chose to stay when the clerk asked me, “Do you want it for the night or by the hour?”  That said it all.   We went to our room to settle in and to put it charitably it was not deluxe.  There was a half eaten sandwich in the trash and the bathroom looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned since Texas independence.  We spent the night sleeping on top of the spread and got on the road about 4 a.m.

Now if you are thinking I am picking on Texas, don’t worry we had a similar experience in Alaska once when we lived there.

We had driven down the Kenai peninsula in June 1975 to see Homer Alaska.  My mother and aunt were visiting and on the way back we had car trouble.  The car had been experiencing electrical problems for a while, but in Kenai  it died.  We were forced to spend the night at the Kenai Royal Redoubt Motel.  Again a less than deluxe place.  And certainly not living up to the Royal nomenclature of course unless you were the King of the Trash Heap.

When we were settled in we compared our rooms, my mother and aunt boasted, “We have a TV.”  We haughtily replied. “We have a chair.”   I guess the Royal Redoubt felt that they should spread the amenities around so that the guests would not be too spoiled.  You get the TV, you get the chair, you get the bed, and so forth.

We did not say long and left early the next morning.

If you travel around the U.S. you will encounter places such as these even today.  Some friends visited the Finger Lakes last summer and chose a place from the internet, spending only one night and then moving on early, there seems to be a pattern here.

You see you don’t need Norman Bates to spoil your visit.

There are plenty of other horrors lurking between the sheets, in the corners, and in the dark places.  So beware.

About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in Air Force, Alaska, American History, Norvell Family History, Texas and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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