05 January 2009

Okay, so I was NOT dreaming this place!

Wayfara. It was the name of a roadside stop which to my early memory seemed to be at every other exit along I-75 in Florida. Ever since first going online in December of '96, I would occasionally Google (or Alta-Vista, Yahoo or Dogpile before that) the name "Wayfara" just to see what pops up. For years the only return seemed to be a convenience store by that name at the Yulee exit along I-95 north of Jacksonville. Today, it's little more than your average gas station/overpriced food store combo.

I figured maybe it was part of this Wayfara chain in an earlier time. Maybe.

That bright orange bow-tie like sign has haunted my subconscious for decades, and as I told my wife over the weekend, while coming back from Jacksonville, that logo has been known to make infrequent cameo appearances in roadtrip dreams I'll have.

(Yes, I do sometimes have dreams where I'm driving somewhere. I know that's shocking to read from me, so just shut up).

Growing up, we'd make Summer trips to Sarasota, Fla. They were islands of idyll in what were fairly turbulent waters. Three things defined the trips down there:
1) Technicolor highway shields. (I'll spare you a further rant .... this time .....)
2) Horne's. That was a Stuckey's spinoff that took on their teal-colored motif with loud yellow rooftops. (Today, there's just one Horne's left: Port Royal, Va. I made a side trip over there during my visit to the DC area in 2003. You know I had to. While Sera had "time with girl family", I broke off on my own and drove to Port Royal. One word: awesome. PS to Kate/Susan and Melissa: if you're in the area, it's worth a stop. The milkshakes were great.)
.... and 3) Wayfara.

Now we didn't stop at either Wayfara or Horne's. Wayfara struck me as another Stuckey's competitor. I didn't know anything about it except the signage.

On a earlier trip to Jacksonville with Tiger, I saw something buried in the trees at the Yulee exit along I-95: a painted-over empty white sign in that four-pointed shape. Holy crap ... that WAS a Wayfara. Maybe this wasn't a figment of a road geek's imagination.

Which leads me to one more search, which yielded the above picture. Indiana - go figure. Maybe Wayfara was a midwestern or northern chain with locations in Florida. That's the way it seems ... a chain will make it big in the nawth, but not the southland; however, once you cross the line into the Sunshine State, all of those "Yankee" icons suddenly make a reappearance.

Bob Evans is a good example. Few, if any, down here; in Florida, they're as plentiful as they are in Pennsylvania. Obviously catering to the snowbirds who like their familiar tastes of home.

I know little to nothing else about Wayfara. Horne's, on the other hand, has one amazing and awesome historical tribute.

So I was not dreaming this place. I could picture that logo above clearly in my mind, although I hadn't seen a single image of one since 1976, our last trip to Sarasota.

Today, the irony doesn't escape me: this Wayfara also has a Stuckey's section. While there, you can partake of "hot eats and cool treats", too. Let's all go to the Stuckfara Queen!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Greetings From Yesterday's Road" Gleck

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