Saturday, January 3, 2015

Have I ever told you about the Keyes Motel?

The Keyes Motel as it looked in days of yore.

The Keyes Motel today
I live right around the corner from the real life Bates Motel. No, actually, that's not even close to true. But I do live very close to a motel that looks a lot like the Bates Motel from Psycho. It's called the Keyes Motel, and it's located in Arlington Heights, IL.

I've never stayed there because it's in my home town, and I have no need of staying there. It's maybe three or four minutes (by car) from my apartment. I have driven by it hundreds of times, though, and it gives me the creeps every time. I say that in the best way possible. I kind of love the Keyes Motel—not the place itself, since I've never even pulled into the parking lot, but my idea of the place and what it represents.

I have no idea of how old the motel is, but that vintage postcard up there dates from 1953, back when the busy commercial thoroughfare called Rand Road—now crowded with gas stations and strip malls—was a quaint little byway called Route 12. It seems to be a relic of a bygone era when people were still seeing the USA in their Chevrolets. The place hasn't changed much in over 60 years, and it's still not part of any nationally-recognized hotel/motel chain.

As such, the Keyes Motel manages to stick out like an eerily nostalgic sore thumb from its bland modern surroundings. It looks like it was cut and pasted from another era entirely. Right across the street, for instance, is a perfectly ordinary Family Video that looks like it hardly belongs in the same universe as the Keyes Motel. What makes this roadside inn so atmospheric, beside the retro architecture (which wasn't retro when this place was built), is the fact that it is surrounded by tall trees that keep the property shrouded in dark, mysterious shadows all the time.

So has this place been the site of murders and disappearances? Nah. Some drunk crashed his car there in 2013 and got arrested, but that's about it. Hardly enough for a series on A&E. Still, though, it's cool to think that there just might be a haunted motel within walking distance of my home.