Monday, June 16, 2003

Hiking History V

While walking to a friend's cookout in Quincy yesterday afternoon, I saw a granite marker near the Wollaston T stop on the Red Line. Turns out the that first Howard Johnson's ever was located in Quincy -- at the location of the marker on the edge of the T station's parking lot.

The marker reads:

Site of the first Howard Johnson's store opened by Howard D. Johnson on September 3, 1925. This commemorative marker was erected by Howard Johnson's through the courtesy of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the city of Quincy on January 11, 1972.

Howard Johnson's -- or HoJo's, as my dad called it when I was a kid -- started out as a drug store and ice cream shop that branched out along the Massachusetts shore before expanding into roadside restaurants and eventually hotels. HoJo's even operated a vending machine business that sold branded pop, gum, and other items. At its peak, there were 1,000 locations, many of which will soon be gone. In 1985, Mariott bought Howard Johnson's and converted many of the restaurants into Roy Rogers.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of Howard Johnson's was its architecture, which combined the traditional New England colonial home with a bright orange roof to serve as a "beacon" for travelers.

Why is the T stop called Wollaston? In 1625, Captain Wollaston, among the area's first European settlers, cleared some land in what is now Quincy. Quincy was once part of Braintree but split from that city in 1792. Wollaston is considered a "section" of Quincy, which was named after John Quincy, a relative of Edmund Quincy, who has a colorful history.

Fascinating stuff for a Sunday afternoon!

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