Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Old Postcard Wednesday--Mayo Motel, Oakland, California

Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.
-Kurt Vonnegut

Evidently I stayed here at the Mayo Motel with my family when we visited my grandmother in Alameda, California. Too young then to recall the place now, I wondered if this motel that was "one of Oakland's newest" in the late 1950s still exists today.

Through the wonders of Google maps street view I toured all around W. MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland, where there are plenty of these small, older, Americana-type motels. And I was surprised to find what I am fairly sure is the Mayo Motel. I think it's likely that it is the MB Motor Inn, with some exterior enhancements like the rock work on the front wall. The address is 430 W. MacArthur Blvd. (Google's drive-by approximates it as 434). Not knowing Oakland I'm not sure if construction in the area would have altered the address numbering system, which seems feasible.

None of the other motels I checked out resembled the Mayo but this one below, the MB Motor Inn, has those thin strips of windows that are unique.

Of course, it's possible they were two separate motels built by the same contractor using a similar design. The MB Motor Inn has been in business under that name since 1978. Perhaps it was the Mayo Motel under former ownership. Or perhaps the Mayo Motel existed down the street and was demolished. Who knows? Better question probably is: Who cares?

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one review:
my wife and i stayed at the mb motor inn about a month back.we were pleasantly surprised to find a place that is very clean and quiet.rooms are spacious and amenities are useful.the staff was very helpful and courteous.we will consider staying there again when we come to see our family.



Don't Feed The Pixies said...

It's kinda wierd looking at this hotel - because it looks like every American hotel i have ever seen in a movie ever. From Memento to Terminator to those buildings in Karate Kid

Where i live a lot of the buildings are crumbly now, but were all put up in the 50s-70s and have a similar look: i wonder if the similarity is just because that was the Vision at the time?

distracted by shiny objects said...

I thought it such a magnificent treat to stay at one of these motels as a kid. Love the "Beaver Car" in the parking lot:>)

Hattie said...

The stark look of that and the one tree managing to thrive in the midst of all that cement reminds me of works by California photorealists like Robert Bechtle.

dmarks said...

I bet staying there is cheaper than staying at the other famous Mayo place where you can stay overnight.... That one can costs tens of thousands of dollars per night.

the watercats said...

There's something very American about that picture.. Sounds stupid, lol but, from someone who spent eleven years growing up in England and then moving to rural Ireland for the rest of the time and going nowhere in between, it is an image of America how I imagine it. One from the quaint and warm and fuzzy, overly sentimental iconic films. I'd love to know what "un-useful amenities" would

Kim said...

I love places like that. And I love the KV quote!

Darlene said...

Comparing the two photographs makes me think you may have found the old Mayo Hotel. At least,it's a distinct possibility.

Lydia said...

@Pixies- crumbling buildings....some kind of vision! This little motel does look like the standard issue 50s-70s motel. However, when independently owned, each seems to have a uniqueness and possibly even some caring behind the business plan. I don't think that's as true with chains.

@Distracted- The Beaver car is wonderful! The lodging I remember during g-ma visits was the Alameda Hotel; it overshadowed this motel in my memory. But in our cross-country driving vacations when I was a kid the motels were very exciting. I remember ones along Route 66.....

@Hattie- I really appreciated your comparison to the artist's work (and I'll Google him as a result) because that was the prevailing feeling I had when I found this postcard in an album recently.

@dmarks- The Mayo Clinic held great fascination for me when I was a kid/teen. I so wanted to go there....until I found out that it isn't a spa. :)

@the watercats- Your description undoubtedly would be fitting for one of Robert Bechtle's works (see Hattie's comments). The Americana you envision still exists and I hope we preserve the best of it before much more is lost.
I didn't realize you grew up in England - fun to know!
"Un-useful amenities" would have to include those stupid paper shoe polishing "cloths"......does anyone use them ever?

@Kim- I do too, on both counts.

@Darlene- Your eye tells you the same mine tells me. I suppose I could call the MB and ask, but it's doubtful a desk clerk would be aware of history dating back pre-1978....

Anonymous said...

Lydia - I love this kind of armchair archaeology. . . The old motels were kind of awesome in their way. They helped us see parts of the country (for what $11.00 a night?) that we wouldn't otherwise have had the chance to see. . . These days we have to make do with the tastelessly anonymous world of chains.

Do you remember the 'magic fingers' that motels used to have on the beds, where for a quarter you could. . . well if you don't remember. . . then you'll just have to wonder.

Very cool posting. Very, very cool.

Lydia said...

@Koe- What a cool description: armchair archaeology!
I am happy to report that I absolutely do remember 'magic fingers' and I remember my mother telling us it was not a toy, but for relaxation. They always worked, too! I wonder who maintained them in good shape!



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