Backpackers Tokyo

Travel in general often means experiencing unfamiliar cultures, meeting new people, dining on different foods, imbibing on exotic beverages, viewing scenery and landscapes which were only seen in books or in movies or on television, and learning information about a variety of topics in person which simply would not be the same from within a classroom…

Good Things in Travel Come to An End Sometime. Part 1.

…but in this edition of what is expected to be a loose series of articles, three veteran stalwarts of travel over the decades have either fell by the wayside — or, at least, are in the process of possibly changing permanently.

The following three items are listed in no particular order.

The Last Public Pay Telephone in New York Has Been Removed

If you are seeking a payphone on the streets of Manhattan to place a telephone call, put your quarters back in your pocket, as you are out of luck: “Midtown Manhattan said goodbye to a long-standing resident on Monday when the city’s last working public payphone was officially removed from the area”, according to this article written by Ben Yakas for Gothamist . “The removal of the payphone, located at 745 7th Ave., does mark the end of an era of coin-operated communication in New York City. This process began almost a decade ago, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a competition to reimagine the payphone. Then in 2014, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the consortium known as City Bridge were chosen to launch LinkNYC to replace them. Starting a year later, the booths were slowly-but-surely removed from every corner of the city, with most sent to a payphone graveyard by 2020.”

The advent of mobile telephones over the years obviously was the main reason for the death knell of what was once the ubiquitous payphone, which had been featured in countless films and songs — especially in horror movies.

The payphone was even “interviewed” before it was removed from the ground.

The Last Howard Johnson’s Restaurant Closes in New York

After almost 69 years of serving the Lake George resort area in the state of New York, the last Howard Johnson’s restaurant in the world not only reportedly closed permanently prior to the Memorial Day holiday weekend with no advance notice whatsoever; but the site at 2143 United States Highway Route 9 is available for lease for only ten dollars at the time this article was written.

Click on the photograph to access the listing to lease the former restaurant for ten dollars — if the listing is still active. Source: Exit Realty Empire Associates.

If you are interested in leasing the former restaurant on Canada Street, know that you get approximately 7,500 square feet with which to work in this building which was built in 1953.

The chain of restaurants — which was founded by Howard Deering Johnson in 1925 as a drug store with a soda fountain and ice cream — was one of the first nationwide, which once numbered greater than 1,000 in 32 states in the United States. The last continuously operating restaurant from the original Howard Johnson’s chain in Bangor closed in September of 2016.

The first motor lodge — which was the predecessor of the chain of greater than 400 hotel properties that are currently under the brand portfolio of Wyndham Hotels Resorts — opened in Savannah in Georgia in 1954. Howard Johnson’s — which included both the restaurants and motor lodges — was actually purchased by Marriott Corporation in 1986 before being sold several more times. When all restaurants became owned by franchisees rather than by the company itself, that signaled the beginning of the divestment of the restaurant brand from the lodging brand…

…so if you are seeking that classic fish fry, fried clams, or your choice of 28 flavors of ice cream for your nostalgic sundae, you are again out of luck.

Elvis Has Left Las Vegas — Or Has He?

In addition to gambling, endless lights on endless nights, and ostentatiousness which seems to ascend to new heights every day, one of the staples of Las Vegas is Elvis Presley — and you will find dozens of Elvis impersonators paying homage to the King of Rock and Roll on any given day in Sin City…

…including many who will officiate a wedding ceremony for you and your special someone to be happy for the rest of your lives — or, at least, for the next few months — in marital bliss.

That tradition — which had occurred in several small wedding chapels around the city over the decades — threatened to end when cease-and-desist warnings were issued to the owners of those chapels earlier this year by a company called Authentic Brands Group, which controls the use of the name and likeness of Elvis Presley in what some would interpret as a money grab.

However, new partnerships may be forming in the process in terms of a compromise of sorts, as Carolyn Goodman — who is the current mayor of Las Vegas — and Authentic Brands Group have reportedly agreed to move forward in reinforcing Las Vegas as an international destination for fans of Elvis Presley, as: “…multiple operators said they had been told that the ABG licensing partnership offer would be $500 annually. No Vegas owner has reported being sent a contract. But the big lift with that offer would be that an Elvis chapel can accurately claim to be an officially licensed Elvis business while cleared to use the King’s name and likeness in its marketing and ceremonies”, according to this article written by John Katsilometes of Las Vegas Review-Journal . “Goodman said ABG has a list of 14 chapels, six of whom it has contacted directly, to become licensed partners.”

Final Payphone Call…Er…I Mean Final Boarding Call

I used to use pay telephones at airports while using a now-defunct service called Talkloop which saved me money on long distance telephone calls. Remember those?!? I do not remember the last time I used a payphone — let alone saw one…

…and if a payphone would inexplicably ring while I was passing it, I would pick it up and answer it with something humorously spontaneous — such as “Joe’s Pizza. Can I take your order?”

The last — and possibly only — time I dined at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant was in the town of White River Junction in Vermont for breakfast; and it was not my idea to dine there. Save for the authentic maple syrup — this is Vermont, after all — the dining experience was not memorable.

I may not have been married in a ceremony which was officiated by an impersonator of Elvis Presley in a small wedding chapel in Las Vegas; but I was the guest of one almost five years ago. You can read about the experience — as well as watch the video — in this article here at The Gate which was written and posted on Sunday, October 27, 2019.

Are there any other traditions of travel which you mourn — either because they drastically changed or disappeared permanently? If so, please post them in the Comments section below; and I may write an article about them in the future here at The Gate.

One other question remains: is the plural of Elvis Elvises or Elvi or Elvii?

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.