by Mike Donnelly and Leslie Layton
The nine-unit Grove Motel north of Willows on the old Highway 99 has been in the family of Gene Del Pape since 1957. Its sign is a rusting relic with peeling, powder-blue paint and unlit neon.
“They don’t make signs like that anymore,” says Del Pape, noting that it was featured in a historical book. When his father bought the motel on what is now called County Road 99W, it was a four-unit building, a motor court where cars parked between units on a well-traveled highway.