This is Not a Motel

This is Not a Motel 2

Surely not a nod to Magritte, but a sign letting people know that what looks like a motel is now no longer a motel. The Comfy Inn has been a short-term housing center run by Emmanuel Community Services for close to two years.

comfy inn est

While it might be confusing, it is cool to see the motel’s “motel” characteristics left intact. The sign and the mural around back, as well as the neon arrow pointing to the motel’s check-in office remain. The unspectacular sign serves as a reminder of the other motels and motel signs up and down Interstate Ave. The neon message that says sorry at the bottom of the sign is as good an apology as can be offered to someone who reads the words “this is not a motel” taped to the old office window and then has to head down Interstate Ave looking for other accommodations.

comfy inn sign

neon sorry

comfy inn mural 2

I don’t know if the sign will always be around but the mural has survived a recent paint job.

I miss the days when the motel was a motel. The biggest excitement then was when the motel would fill up with people coming from all over to attend the Portland International Raceway Auto Swap Meet. These days my inner curmudgeon gets inflamed by noisy kids playing in the motel parking lot when I’m trying to write. I was also irritated about a construction trailer for 6 months after our new neighbors arrived but one construction trailer became two smaller ones and they seem to have blended into the background. Sure the motel was once a quieter place but I can’t deny kids the right to make their joyous sounds. Besides it drowns out the hammering from the condo project across the street and the neighborhood’s many barking dogs as we all strive to live together in perfect harmony.

Read a Willamette Week blog post about this very topic:

Assigned reading:é_Magritte

Western 2

One of my favorite motel signs on Interstate Ave.

5 thoughts on “This is Not a Motel

  1. willardxsimmons says:

    Kirsten’s parents used to live near what was obviously an old, country corner store (based on the design and the big retail windows) outside of Woodstock, NY, but the people who lived there had put up very nice permanent letters in the windows reading “Not a Store”. We had a running joke as we’d routinely drive past it where I’d say “Is that a store?” and Wilma would chastise me for not reading the window sign.


  2. Ronna says:

    I don’t like that they painted the entire building including the trim and fascia the same shade of the same color brown, but even more I don’t like that they painted it right after the story came out revealing the fact that no improvements were made before moving the families into the rooms. It was as if management read the story and thought they would paint the outside brown as an “improvement.” It didn’t even need paint. Awning replacement? Maybe. A different fence? Definitely. It looks like a prison for child basketball players.


  3. davidc5033 says:

    I have to admit I don’t like the color but it doesn’t seem like we have a say in the matter. This may be the beginning of some more improvements. I think it’s hard to see any fence there or construction trailers for that matter because for so long it was an open parking lot.


  4. davidc5033 says:

    Will, way to ingratiate yourself to your in-laws! The more I think about it the sign could well be a nod to Magritte, I mean there could have been many different and bureaucratic ways to present information that the motel is closed. I had to laugh because I forgot that the message on the original painting was in French. I guess I had translated it in my head a long time ago.


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