The Photo Elective – Cundey’s Motel

Cundey's Motel
When I was in art school in the early ’80s, I was required to take a photography elective course where we had to shoot photographs; develop the film; make prints from the negatives and hopefully wind up with something that was either esthetically pleasing or good enough to get a passing grade. Most of my fellow students lived in and around the school in Center City Philadelphia where they shot vibrant and dynamic images of urban vistas while I lived just across the Delaware River in suburban Westville, New Jersey and felt I had to scrabble for things worthy of making a monochromatic exposure. I thought I had nothing to shoot compared to the other kids. How wrong I was.


While my classmates were shooting Billy Penn or City Hall or the Reading Terminal for the billionth time, I went wandering along Crown Point Road to see what I could see. Here we have Cundey’s Motel that enticed truckers with a welcoming manner and the promise of COLOR TV. It was probably just broadcast television, but it was in living color. If they had cable, I’m pretty sure they would have crammed HBO and PRISM on that sign.


One of the things I realize as I look at this is that I probably passed this place a million times in a car going 50-60 miles per hour. It was a blur, and I didn’t really take the time to stop and look at these places until I was on foot and a grade point average was riding on it. I’m glad I did because I managed to capture another place and another time. It didn’t seem terribly important back then so I never bothered making prints from most of the negatives. I’ve recently scanned a number of these negatives, and I had several “Oh, yeah” moments. The places are not historic but what has changed is very interesting. It’s weird how much you miss that water when the well runs dry.

The shots I’ve posted of Westville and thereabouts are getting a lot more attention than what I’ve been posting of Philly. My shots of the Mardi Gras Club and Murphy’s Tavern have stirred up a decent amount of excitement here and at the Westville and Gloucester City pages over on Facebook. People seem to like them so I’m going to post what I have. I wish I had shot a lot more!

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and anecdotes which you can leave below.

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