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Big Trouble at "Highway Paradise"

Many of my hubs originate from my teenage years and those past twenty. Some pieces were funny. Some were sad,.Some were down right scary.

This is NOT my dad, just a graphic that I used to accent part of the hub.

This is NOT my dad, just a graphic that I used to accent part of the hub.

The Town's Name is

Athens, Ala., which in 1982 was smaller then than now. In 2021, there are more than 21,897 good folks living, working, and making the Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, Ala., area great. Athens, by any stretch of the imagination is far from being a typical southern town. There are no pretty girls in hooped skirts and parasol's. But this bustling town has grown in leaps and industrial and retail progress

There is a shrinking ray of fame (among many) that accompanies Athens, and that ray of fame belongs to Athens State College, home of the Bears. This event, more like a "Southern Woodstock," or the Old Time Fiddler's Convention that is held every first weekend in October and the campus of the college is not as much as crowds, but more like throngs of people putting-up their arts and crafts, practicing and simply, having a great time.

Even my dad got 'into the act" when he went on stage on a cold Saturday morning and played two songs: one, waltz and two, a break-down. I was so honored to live long enough to see my dad use his talent for something that he loved and enjoyed and in those few moments, my wife and I did both.

There were Bluegrass and old time fiddling on the grounds before appearing on the stage to perform for the judges who will judge the best in several categories. Friday night through Saturday and Saturday night is music-packed with more vendors cooking their delicious food that the crowds can purchase. It is a bold understatement for me to say that the Old Time Fiddler's Convention makes money. Fact is, the event has armed security guards in place just in case a fool were to try robbing the monies.

With That Being Said

But in the drowsy year of 1982, something happened in this darling town that I still remember like it was years ago. This happening was so miniscule that the satellites in space couldn't see it, but I can tell you upfront that I am not bashing Athens for any reason. This happening did happen on the outskirts of town headed south toward my hometown of Hamilton, Ala., another wonderful southern town.

The happening I refer to is: the "Paradise Highway." At first glance, any traveler not familiar with Athens or the "Paradise Highway," would be awe-stricken. The outside of the motel is a gaudy whitewashed block building. I have to be honest. The motel does look every bit like a thriving motel, but looks can be deceiving.
The players that lived in and surviving this one Saturday night after we were finished with the Fiddler's Convention, and even today, will tell you in no certain terms, we will not be back. I know that this is a hard statement, but I will not lie. At any rate, every one (but three) of the ten people who stayed at "Paradise Highway" are very conservative. It's a miracle that "these" conservatives did not stand-up and bark for their money back.

Remember I Said Looks Can be Deceiving

well it can and does. I was as gullible as the other adults. I am not blaming Angie, our little girl; Tim and Michelle Pam's brother and baby sister. As for Pam's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Orville Winsett and Pam's older sister, Brenda and hubby, Steve. To me, even in 1982, these people were salt of the earth. That includes Pam, Angie and the children. You will notice that I did not refer to myself as salt of the earth, because at that time, I was working to find-out what category of God's Kingdom I did belong to.

As our traveling caravan rolled-up, I thought, man, if that messy swimming pool--full of scum, empty beer bottles, and a pair of a man's underwear, should have been a red flag blowing in the wind, but I kept my mouth shut. The rest of my crew did the same. They were, like I have just told you, salt of the earth not wanting to rock the boat (no pun intended) and get into a tiff with the gruff manager.

We all stood and stretched before entering the motel lobby. Pam and I slowly walked to the front desk. No one was there. To gather information of what type of dive that were about to fork-over $25.00 a person, really was. My question was soon answered. I noticed that in the wall of the lobby was a big "F- - K You!" carved into the cheap paneling. This was hint enough. I began to pinch Pam and she got angry at me doing that because as she put it, we are in public. I've never understood her thinking because after all, we were man and wife, and parents of Angie, our little girl.

I instantly took offense at the profanity carved into the wall. But Pam did not want to look at it. She said it was ugly. Sure enough, but no self-respecting motel owner would dare allow such tripe into his business. There were more profanities which were written with a black marker, but these did not make sense and I tried to whisper that we are messing-up. No, she said. We have already paid and my parents and Brenda and Steve and the kids paid and ready to get to their rooms (another huge mistake). I was all alone in my revolt. It was then that I knew how Don Quixote felt.

This is NOT the "Paradise Highway," it is just a conception that I used when I formed the idea.s

This is NOT the "Paradise Highway," it is just a conception that I used when I formed the idea.s

The Worst is Yet to Come

and sure enough, our motel stay was about as sorry as a dump can be. At the very moment that I unlocked the door for Pam, Angie, and myself, a very strong armoma hit me like a horse had hid into the room and died. I'm stretchng a bit, but I've never been near a dead horse, but it sounded dramatic.

Pam's parents, Orville and Geraldine, Tim and Michelle, their children along with Brenda, Pam's older sister and hubby, Steve must have bought a clean room because we did not hear any complaints. Pam stood in the middle of our room and her mouth was wide-open. Then we heard a loud scream. Mom! Dad! Get here in the bathroom, there is blood everywhere! Angie had discovered. But a child's imagination does cause tricks to work on their minds . . .but at this chosen moment, Angie was spot-on. Honest to God, it resembled a place where deer are skinned and dressed and the blood flew like horseflies. I think that I did see a couple horseflies, but I was upset and my mind was full of rage.

Pam and I noticed that the paneling in our room was fake. Just a facsimile. The motel maintenance folks had painted some Formica brown like an Autumn landscape and the painting was so awful, "I" could have completed the task in the dark.

The two beds were not really made as most motel maids do, but not these. Underneath our bed was a few beer cans and an empty bottle of whiskey, and yes, another pair of men's underwear. Then my patient wife told me to call the manager and tell him that we want a better room.

"Hello. This is the Avery's in room 23, and it looks nasty, blood everywhere in the bathroom, rust on the shower enclosure and our beds looked awful."

"Uhhh, now you've already paid, and uhhh, we cannot give money back," "Chester" (not his real name) said.

"So, what are we to do, sleep in filth?" I asked very sternly. Then that very cold sound of a phone slamming the receiver down. We were both ready to just put our luggage into our car and head home. Then Pam's dad and mom knocked on the door. Both smiled. They did not bother asking if we liked our room. What compassion.

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At the last minute, "Chester," and some Looney Tunes character, "Yosemite Sam," walked to our room and with a very rude attitude, said that they would help us take our luggage and belongings to a cleaner room. We said thanks. Then showed the two proof of what we had told him about. "Chester" didn't smile. He only glared.


Honestly, we all made it through the night. And I got accustomed to watching the Philco black and white 20-inch TV. Even with the stripes that reminded me of a zebra, I was cool. I noticed that by my wrist watch, we had only 6 painful hours then we could head home and get some food.

The sun beat down on us as we loaded the car. Pam's parents, Brenda, Steve, Tim and Michelle talked and laughed as it they had a great night's rest and I was hoping that they would not ask me to go into details on our "train wreck,"-of-a-motel stay.
One man's filth is another man's . . .yeah. I got it.

January 20, 2021____________________________________________________

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© 2021 Kenneth Avery


Kenneth Avery (author) from Hamilton, Alabama on January 24, 2021:

Hello, Peggy . . .I appreciate your comment. And I have to agree with your comment. We all should have left to search for a better place to stay, but we were all wiped-out and honestly, thought that a good night's sleep would help.

What a fool I was to even mention the sign before we left the road.

Peace. Write me soon.

Kenneth Avery (author) from Hamilton, Alabama on January 24, 2021:

Hi, Brenda . ..are you okay? I hope so. It was so sweet of you to stop by and leave such as wonderful comment.

I am tempted to take a ride back to Athens, Al., just to see if this place would be still standing.

Unless it has been torn-down, I would stop and ask that it be done anyway.

Write me anyttime.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on January 21, 2021:

Oh my gosh!

I can't imagine a bed made with beer cans and whiskey beneath...not to mention the blood from an apparent dear.

I'm afraid I would have left.

I hope the next room was at least cleaner.

I think you get the trophy for this one.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 21, 2021:

What a horrible motel experience you had! We once checked into a room that had not been made up and had liquor bottles and empty food trays strewn about the room. After reporting it, they offered us a suite at no extra charge, but we decided to leave and go to another hotel instead.

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