Another one from our honeymoon across the US - Shore’s Ironwood, Michigan.
At this location we were particularly surprised to find that it was still ‘Davey’s Motel’, but also disappointed to see that the sign didn’t make it quite as far as the name had.
As we were wandering about the property, a couple starting walking toward us from across the street, wondering of course what we were up to. Immediately, we showed them the book - Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places - and the anxiety lifted off their shoulders. As we talked with the proud owners, we learned that their grandparents owned the motel when Shore took the original photograph 38 years prior. They explained to us that the sign broke so naturally they brought it to the town dump.
We also learned that Davey’s can no longer compete with the new motels/hotels that have been built up and around Ironwood. During the school year they rent out rooms to the community college students to collect some income.
When I look back on our interaction, I believe the couple realized through Shore’s photograph that they should have kept the sign and hung it somewhere on the property…even if the lights no longer worked. We could sense their sadness and regret - mostly for the sign, but also for the motel, the town of Ironwood, and in the grand scheme of things, our big ol’ country - a yearning for the way things used to be.
We had a nice chat with the current owner’s of Davey’s Motel that day and wish them the best of luck in the upcoming years. If you are ever on Route 2 in Ironwood, Michigan be sure to stop in and spend a night at Davey’s Motel - it’s kind of famous ya know.
*pay attention to that pine tree on the left…it gets me every time.