For postwar travelers, the motel offered a convenient lodging option for a newly mobile nation looking for contemporary, relaxed and auto-friendly places to rest. In response to travelers' needs, the motel industry flourished; between 1946 and 1957 the number of motels in the United States almost tripled, growing from around 20,000 to 56,248 (Jakle et al. 20). This boom fuelled not only motel development but also the public's imagination. The popular interest in the motel as a place where the small businessman could “get rich quick” triggered a mini publishing boom for articles and novel-length accounts of motel life. Many of these memoirs were produced by white, middle-class women who entered the motel business with their husbands and describe their trials, tribulations, and successes for a popular audience. This article considers two such texts in order to explore how the postwar tourist court operated as a gendered and classed space of social (re)production.
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