Nostalgia is often described as a wistful desire to return
to a former time, an era when things were simpler, better, less stressful, more fun (insert your descriptor here). The truth, however, is that regardless of the period of time you live in or where you live it is the best of times and the worst of times. Nostalgia is a great deal like vintage pictures, it is one dimensional, a moment in time taken out of context.
The cover photo, provided courtesy of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, illustrates this point. The Route 66 sign on the post provides a point of reference but what else can be discerned from the photo? From the perspective of nostalgia these appear to be simpler times. What isn’t seen in the photo is the White House Cafe to the right of the “grocerteria” where a sign read “Colored Entrance In Rear.” Continue reading “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times”→
Aside from death and taxes the one thing that we can all
be certain of is that, like it or not, things change. When was the last time you used a pay phone? When was the last time you wrote a letter? When was the last time you wrote a letter on a typewriter? When was the last time you used a map, a phone book, or crossed the desert at night to beat the heat?
In 1909, more than 828,000 horse-drawn vehicles rolled from American factories. That year automobile manufacturers set a new record with combined production totaling more than 128,000 vehicles. Fast forward two decades and a mere 4,000 horse drawn vehicles were manufactured. Meanwhile, in 1929, Ford manufactured more than 2,000,000 automobiles and trucks, and there were more than a dozen automobile companies rolling vehicles along assembly lines including Hudson, Oakland, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Studebaker, Auburn, Cord, Willys, Chrysler, Nash, Pierce-Arrow, Packard, and Checker.
Last year I was privileged by opportunities to speak
about Route 66 and that highways renaissance at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri, the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, at the Miles of Possibilities Conference in Bloomington-Normal, at a fund-raising event for the Route 66 Association of Kingman, at the first European Route 66 Festival, at a school in Bensheim, Germany, and at a Promote Kingman event where the new video series, Jim Hinckley’s America: A Trek Along Route 66 was introduced. This year I am narrowing the focus by developing a presentation that centers on the marketing of the Main Street of America in western Arizona over the course of the past century.
The story of Route 66 promotion actually commences a decade or so before that highways certification on November 11, 1926. The short version of a long story, one that I will provide more detail on in my presentation, is how the National Old Trails Highway was rerouted across northern Arizona, a rather dramatic realignment from the original route from Springerville to Yuma where it connected with the Ocean-To-Ocean Highway.
In 2014, the city of Kingman hosted the International Route 66 Festival. The theme was
Kingman: Crossroads of the Past & Future. The opening of the world’s first electric vehicle museum, a partnership between the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation and Kingman tourism at this event marked the beginning of a new era on Route 66, and in Kingman. Well, with the ever increasing acquisition and donation of vehicles, including an ultra rare electric 1998 Chevrolet S10 pick up truck, the museum has outgrown its current location in the Powerhouse Visitor Center and has more vehicles in storage than are on display.
In partnership with Promote Kingman, a fund raising initiative that includes solicitation of sponsors and partners will be launched in 2017 to rectify this problem. The goal is to raise adequate funds for establishment and creation of a dedicated museum that will chronicle the fascinating evolution of the electric vehicle, as well as related infrastructure. Continue reading “2017 – An Electrifying Year on Route 66”→
Even though it was often said that I had a gift for telling people where to go,
it was at least ten years after the publication of my first feature article before an attempt was made to capitalize on that talent. Well, that was almost twenty years ago and though fortune in the form of financial compensation has proven somewhat elusive, it has been a truly rewarding endeavor. It has also been an educational experience, a faith building endeavor, a grand adventure, a chance to hone my skill as a pinata impersonator, an international odyssey, and an endless opportunity to meet the most fascinating people. This and the friendships made along the way are the true reward that has come from harnessing my gift for telling folks where to go.
Now, with eager anticipation and a touch of apprehension I am turning my sights toward 2017. First, however, I need to give 2016 a proper send off. On Friday morning, at 6:15 Arizona time, there is theJim Hinckley’s Americaprogram from Beale Street Brews on Facebook live. I will be answering readers questions (feel free to ask your questions on Friday morning, or by email) about Route 66, the road less traveled, and the infancy of the American auto industry, and talk a bit about the exciting events pending for 2017. I also plan on introducing folks to Ralph Teetor, the inventor of cruise control. That evening the Route 66 Association of Kingman will be hosting a reception for Rasheed Hooda, a fascinating gentleman who is walking Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, at Calico’s on Beale Street at 6:00 PM. Continue reading “Telling Folks Where To Go For Fun and Profit – Welcome to Jim Hinckley’s America”→
The list of celebrities, legendary cowboys, movie stars, and famous artists
that have called Kingman home, or that have stopped by for a visit or two over the years is surprisingly lengthy. However, with the exception of Pamela Anderson’s indecent exposure incident, even in Kingman, this celebrity association is often less than an historic footnote .
Recently two of these esteemed individuals, Andy Devine and Bob Boze Bell, author of the Route 66 Kid were awarded a rather prestigious award, induction into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. As a result, once again the international media spotlight focused on Kingman, just as it did in the 1950’s when the television program This Is Your Life honored Andy Devine, in 1939 when Clark Gable and Carol Lombard married here, and in 1925 when Buster Keaton selected the ranch of Tap Duncan north of Kingman as a filming location for his latest motion picture, Go West. Continue reading “Cowboys, Movie Stars, Dreamers, and The Most Famous Highway in the World”→
the tag line from one of Ned Jordan’s most famous advertising campaigns. For those not familiar with Mr. Jordan, or the legendary automobile that he manufactured, suffice to say that he was a very talented salesman, a golden tongued wordsmith that transformed the business of automotive advertisement.
I often give thought to Mr. Jordan, William Crapo Durant, the genius beyond the founding of General Motors, and similar super salesmen when cruising along US 6, US 50, or any of the old two lane highways. How did Route 66 eclipse them in popularity, how was the highway signed with two sixes transformed into an icon, a symbol of freedom and of opportunity?
For most Route 66 enthusiasts the story is well known. However, before talking about the renaissance, the marketing behind the movement, and the people that are behind both, there is a need to provide a bit of background.
The most famous highway in the world is not America’s most historic or even its most scenic highway. However, US 66 was a favorite of Cyrus Avery‘s many, many projects. He even was instrumental in having the highway signed as US 66.