19 December 2007

Route 301: Episode 1

A QUEEN FARTIN' PRODUCTION! STARRING TALMADGE GLECK AS "BUZZ", AND SERAPHIM GLECK AS "LIZZ", TWO COMMON FOLK TRAVERSING "THE OTHER MOTHER ROAD" IN A VINYL-TOP '67 AMC AMBASSADOR, GETTING INTO ALL SORTS OF ADVENTURES AND TRYING TO OUTWIT THEIR ARCH-NEMESIS, DEPUTY EARL OF LUDOWICI.

TONIGHT'S EPISODE: "LOBSTER TALES"!! ..... BROUGHT TO YOU BY SUPER-CHARGED AND SUPER-LEADED GOOD GULF "NO-NOX" GASOLINE. IF THIS GAS HAD ANY MORE LEAD IN IT, IT'D BE FROM CHINA! PREMIUM-PRICED AT 35 CENTS A GALLON, TOO. ONLY AT YOUR GULF DEALER!
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The town: Allendale, South Carolina. One of many towns bisected by "Old 301", food and lodging meccas along a thriving "short cut to Florida." The passage of the Interstate Highway Act in 1956 spelled eventual downfall for most small burgs like Allendale which soon would become bypassed when the interstate highways were to be finished. Some towns had the fortune of being along the planned routing of these new highways. Alas, the same could not be said for motels and many restaurants in places like Allendale, Bamberg, Sylvania and Glennville. Their days were numbered.

Some towns were cut off as quickly as the late '50s, and began to wither on the vine into the 1960s. Fortunately for 301 (if more inconvenient for travelers who wanted to get to point-B quicker), the completion of I-95 through South Carolina and Georgia was late in coming. Allendale, et al, therefore had a lot more borrowed time, as the last link of 95 wasn't opened until 1978!

Shall we take a nice siesta?
If you were a truck driver, and used 301 as your route to points southward, I'm sure you found the "Interstate Truck Terminal" outside Allendale as an appealing place to have a bite to eat, maybe a refreshing shower, and a tank of Pure "Super Energee" Diesel for your 18-wheeler:
Above is the aptly-named Interstate truck stop, pictured in a 1963 Pure Oil directory. Nowadays, it doesn't look so good:
So, what killed this truck stop? What a profoundly sad irony, eh?

Just like up the road a piece in Santee, the town of Allendale is another "Radiator Springs" overflowing with decaying reminders of an earlier time. It used to have its own Holiday Inn. And the town was home to a certain orange-roofed roadside icon:
In 2006, here's how it looked:
Simple Simon and Pieman have both moved on.

* * * * * * * * *
Now, you might've been passing through Allendale around mealtime, and found yourself captivated by the really cool neon sign outside of this restaurant:
Approved by AAA and recommended by Duncan Hines back in those salad days, the Lobster House provided a good seafood experience as a prelude to what the traveler would find in even greater abundance in Florida.

And today?
The sign, though weatherbeaten, remains. And although it looked to be closed the day we passed through town, the Lobster House appears to still be in operation, if various online references are any indication (including one "motorcycle club" which meets here).
Note to self: find out for sure ... and if The Lobster House is still in business, it would make for a nice day trip and lunch one Saturday. If so, then it'll be worth the drive, because if the food isn't good, it wouldn't be supported by the only remaining clientele base: the LOCALS.

Greetings from the old highway. Having a great time, wish it all were still here.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Retro Wayfarer" Gleck

1 comment:

Chris said...

Passed by this Lobster House today on a trip to NC. He wanted to take the scenic route instead of using the interstate. The sites I saw both amazed and depressed me a bit.

I'm not sure if it's open or not myself, but I did see neon signs on in the window for various beers. If I were hungry at the time I might've checked to see for myself if it were open.