SLEEPY BEAR at Travel Lodge

Most of the motels I recall staying in as a child were not part of chains. They were individually owned and my mother would look them up in the AAA travel books to see what sort of a diamond rating they had. Holiday Inns were way out of our price range. Next step was Travel Lodge. Those were more economical if not as "fancy" as Holiday Inn.

I've said before that the first thing I always did as a child when walking into a new motel room was to check the desk drawer for post cards and stationary. Okay, I'll admit it, I still do. A few years ago I won a trip to a 5 star resort and as soon as the bellhop left the room I was into the desk drawer checking for post cards and stationary. Old habits die hard.

I do not know how old this Sleepy Bear post card is, but I'm imagining around 1962 to 1967. As a kid I liked Sleepy Bear. He was always a welcoming sight to see on their signs when it was late at night in a rain storm. We'd pull in next to the office and my father would go inside to see if they had a room. My mother would sit patiently waiting in the front seat with the wipers slapping back and forth across the large Olsdmobile windshield. Maybe the glow of the radio across the dashboard. Me in the back seat with the dog, anxiously looking towards the office hoping they had a room. Then my dad back into the car with a key and mother asking, "Did you ask if they take dogs?" My father, putting the car in gear, "No."

Travel Lodge_Sleepy Bear_tatteredandlost
Travel Lodge_post card_tatteredandlost
Travel Lodge stationary_tatteredandlost

Is Sleepy Bear still out there along the highways welcoming sleepy kids? I hope so. Yes, I know, he's just a corporate image trying to manipulate shoppers, but at the time these little images didn't seem as heavy handed. He was just a sleepy little bear who made a little girl smile.

Here's another book I'd like to recommend to those who love ephemera.

Hitting the Road: The Art of the American Road Map by Douglas A. Yorke, Jr, John Margolies, and Eric Baker.

It's all about the covers on vintage road maps of the US. The oldest map featured is from 1893.

Oh how I wish I had all of those old maps we used when we travelled. The
colorful maps you used to get for free from gas stations that were thrown away when the trip was over. Those days are sure gone, but this book lets you relive a little bit of what travel was once like. So if you like vintage travel or simply love looking at vintage ephemera illustrations this book won't be a disappointment.


  1. I always browse the maps! You often find itineraries and notes that are interesting, written with a number 2 pencil. Great stuff!

  2. Hey you were lucky we were always camping and pulling into the campsite with the rain lashing was not the most enticing experience. I used to collect the pens and notepads in hotels but have managed to wean myself off that habit. I'm still tempted by the shoe shine stuff and sewing kits for some strange reason but on a recent trip to a conference I managed to get out of the hotel without taking any freebies!!

  3. Janice, We did a lot of tent camping too, but that was always relatively close to home. The motels were when we were traveling across country long distances.

    I can remember one time camping for several days without a tent. We just threw sleeping bags on the ground in rows next to each other. Awoke the next morning to discover hoof marks between the bags. Apparently while we were all sound asleep, about a foot away from each other, a herd of cows walked through right between our bags. None of us heard a thing. There were 8 of us. We were all stunned when we looked around the camp to see that nothing had been knocked over. Not so when camping in the high country of Yosemite and the bears showed up. But that's a whole other story.

  4. Craig Augustine3/25/2011

    This story of finding the Sleepy Bear a comforting sight along the highway really hit home with me. Our family vacations were similar as far as lodging experiences go. Holiday Inn was luxury and only considered when my dad wanted to splurge. I liked the Sleepy Bear, cozy and welcoming at the end of a 500 mile day.

  5. Thanks Craig. I figured there were others who had similar memories of travel days long gone by.

  6. Anonymous5/11/2012

    I, too, was a child of the 60s ... and reading your wonderfully nostalgic recollections of family vacation road trips and staying overnight at a "Sleepy Bear" TraveLodge wherever we could find one ... was so much like our summer roadtrip vacations that it was as if describing our own! We travelled from our home in Brenham, Texas westward through states like Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. And just like you .... we frequently could not afford to stay at the "pricey" Holiday Inns, which cost an average of $28 per night. As I recall .... TraveLodge usually ran ten dollars less than that. Thanks for including the 'Sleepy Bear' logo. This has brought back fond memories for me! Now all I need to complete this "picture" is to go back online and do an internet search on 'Stuckey's' (the roadside fast-food/giftshop rest-stops) where we always stopped to stretch our legs and to grab a quick hamburger/fries lunch! Simple childhood memories like these are the BEST .... and so much fun to share with others. THANKS! [phoebem_2001@hotmail.com]

  7. I'm so glad this meant so much to you. Aren't we lucky to remember when travel was like this? I'm thrilled to know my shared memory is also the memory of others.

  8. Anonymous5/28/2014

    Btw ..... just for the heck of it, I did an internet search for 'Travel Lodge Santa Barbara Beach'. Believe it or not -- it's STILL THERE! Apparently, the 'Sleepy Bear' logo isn't, however .....

    1. Wonderful to hear. Thanks for letting me know.

      I miss the bear.