At first it was cool, but as AOL fell out of favor with the cyber-scene, I took a lot of heat for maintaining my AOL account.
I, too, was an early AOL user. Back before Microsoft Windows 3.0 became the ubiquitous desktop, AOL had one of the cleanest, most usable user interfaces of any online service. They also had real internet email addresses early on, without CompuServe's annoying addressing scheme and free from Prodigy's ridiculous constraints on email and their editorial censorship of discussion forums. I had email addresses on systems that are still historically considered cool, such as The Well and Mindvox, but I actually used my AOL email address far more frequently. It just worked better, and early on no one thought it was "lame." In the early 1990s anyone using Internet email was ahead of the curve.
There is a reason that AOL was so successful in the mid 90's when the web took off, and that is because they built a service that worked really well and served the needs of most people. Eventually, it was crawling with n00bs and there was a certain guilt by association for coming from there, but the historical revisionism that goes on where people assume that it was "lame" to have an AOL account in 1989 is hypocritical. If you were really around back then you don't have that attitude.
I never hosted a web page there but my family still has our AOL dialup account and I still use it when I travel.
RE: End of an era: The AOL websites shutting down