11 July 2008

"Why aren't Sonny and Cher in color??"

About six months ago (how appropriate, eh?), I made a post about Motel 6 circa 1977. In it, I said: "I remember seeing a magazine advert for Motel 6 in the late '70s, lampooning the off-kilter nature of the lowly, abused motel color TV. Motel 6 had a novel solution to this problem, too: they didn't have color sets. As late as 1980, Motel 6 had BLACK & WHITE televisions in all of their rooms."

Okay, it was 1974 ... and here's that very advertisement:
It's a lo-res scan, so here's the text:

Green faces, purple skies. When have you ever had a color TV in a motel that got decent color? Well, Motel 6 has in ingenious solution to that problem. We have black-and-white TV sets in our rooms. Actually, we didn't do this to save you problems. We did it to save you money. Color TV sets cost a lot of money. Money that has to come from charging more for the room. That's one of the reasons Motel 6 rooms cost so little.

Pay TV is here. But even black-and-white sets cost money. So our sets are coin-operated. 25 cents for two hours. That way we can get our room rates a little lower still. And we economize in other ways, too. No sauna baths or "free" limousine to the airport, that kind of thing. That saves us a lot of money. Which lets us save you a lot of money.

All rooms $6.60 to $9.90. We have only two kinds of rooms. Rooms with one double bed and rooms with two double beds. One bed, one person is $6.60. One bed, two persons, $7.70. Two beds, two persons, $8.80. And two beds, three or four persons, $9.90. That's the price. Every day at every one of our 150 motels.

Of course, there's such a thing as too much of a good thing. Even economizing. We spare no expense to keep our rooms spotlessly clean. We have excellent beds (and "Magic Fingers" machines that didn't freakin' work!!), a swimming pool, thick carpeting (nothing says "1970s!!!" like thick carpeting). And in climates that need it, air conditioning ("Air ... con-DISH-uh-ning!"). But color TV, no. You lose green in the face. You gain green in the wallet.

Gangrene? Oops, my bad -- that's Scottish Inn or "Clean Stay USA."

It's a good snapshot of the 1974 flavour of Motel 6. (Of course, by 1977, inflation had cause the price of our room in El Paso to go for something like $11 smackers, give or take a few quarters for the telly)

Notice how all the rooms went for the same price, regardless of location? Even Motel 6 doesn't do that today. The rooms back then were small. I mean, SMALL. You can easily tell which Motel 6 properties are older-vintage. When I see one (Opelika, Ala. is a great example), I know not to expect a lot of space on each side of the single king-sized bed in there. :-)

They DID have a valid point about the color TVs. Even the ones in Holiday Inns back then weren't all that and a bag of Baked Lays. Green faces, purple skies, pink oceans, orange mountains .... yeah, it was that bad. Sometimes a motel will sell old room TVs at fire-sale prices, but I'd never consider buying one -- those poor things take a lot of misuse and all around ill-treatment, especially from drunken rednecks.

But my Dad was reeeeeeally ticked off about that coin-operated B/W television.

Ciao for Niao

--Talmadge "We'll leave the lava-light on for you" Gleck


Georgia Road Geek said...

Your post reminded me of the old Jimmy Buffett song "This Hotel Room". :)

Talmadge Gleck said...

Great song. "Magic Fingers makes you feel alright!"

Seraphim9 said...

Except for your father-in-law's Magic Fingers - eh? ;-)

Talmadge Gleck said...

Now that's just sick.