Kemmons was still sitting at the kitchen table when Dorothy Lee came down the next morning. He hadn’t come to bed the night before. The notebook, laid out before him, was blank when she’d gone to bed. It was covered in words and sketches now.
“Oh, lord, you’ve gone and had one of your ideas, haven’t you?”
Her husband was legendary for obsessing over things, it part of what drew her to him.
“It’s just after that trip,” he started, without a hint of exhaustion in his voice. “Those places we had to stay in, none of them, not a stinking one, were fit for a family.”
She grabbed a mug from the cabinet and put the kettle on to boil, listening to him talk.
“I think I should do something about that. Build a place for families, with clean rooms, and a bible in ever nightstand.”
“Sounds reasonable. But how will people know your place is different?”
He paused for a moment, thinking, chewing the end of his pencil.
“A sign.” He answered, with a smile. “Big, with lots of lights. And an arrow, pointing the way.”
“The way to what?”
“A good place for a good night’s sleep.”
Kemmons Wilson founded Holiday Inn after a horrible road trip with his family to Washington, D.C. He was disgusted with the quality of motels he found along the way, and decided that he should open a chain of consistent, clean, and family-friendly motels. He opened the first one on Summer Avenue in 1952. His idea caught like wildfire, and went on to become one of the largest hotel chains in the world.