Neon, Tail Fins & Murder

In the era of renaissance, Route 66 is a destination, a

linear theme park stretching from the shores of Lake Michigan to the pier in Santa Monica. There was, however, a time when U.S. 66, in spite of the hype, was a highway, an artery of commerce. It was also a road of flight, for people seeking a new life, and for people fleeing from the law. Serial killers and bank robbers shared the road with truckers and vacationing families in station wagons.

In 1935, the National Guard set up check points along Route 66 in Galena, Kansas as labor violence escalated. Photo Steve Rider.

After going AWOL from Fort Hood in May 1961, eighteen year old George York, and nineteen year old James Latham set out on a cross country crime spree. On June 8, 1961, at a service station on Route 66 in Edwardsville, Illinois, York and Latham stopped for gas, robbed the station, and executed the attendant, Martin Drenovac.

The murderous pair was arrested in Tooele, Utah on June 10. As an historic footnote, after being charged with murder, sexual assault, and robbery in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kansas, they were charged with murder in Kansas and sentenced to the correctional facility in Lansing, Kansas. It was there that they developed a friendship of sorts with Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, the murderers profiled in the Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood. 

Would you like to read more about murder and mayhem on Route 66? As a patron, for as little as $5.00 per month, you can read the extended version of this post, and have access to other exciting stories, videos, and travel tips. Become a Patron!

 

Telling People Where To Go For Fun & Profit Since 1990

It started when a dear friend gently encouraged me

to pursue a childhood dream. That was in 1990. I am still chasing the dream, with gentle encouragement from my dearest friend. To say the very least, it has been a grand adventure, an odyssey worthy of Jason and his band of intrepid and fearless Argonaughts. I digress.

Today’s post, however, is not about the past, but about a future that includes gently encouraging my dearest friend to grasp a recently presented opportunity in pursuit of dreams. More about this exciting development in just a moment.

A new book, 100 Things To Do on Route 66 Before You Die was released on September 1. That is number 18. Filling in the spaces between the writing and publication of books are hundreds and hundreds of features articles, the launch of a video series and a fledgling attempt to kick off a podcast, a YouTube channel, walking tours in the Kingman historic district in support of the Promote Kingman initiative, a Facebook live program, this blog, serving as an impromptu reception committee for Kingman area visitors, presentations on a variety of subjects, and development of a crowd funding patrons program that is crucial to keeping a few of these projects alive.  Become a Patron!  Continue reading “Telling People Where To Go For Fun & Profit Since 1990”

34 Years & Counting

For a number of reasons I can’t really tell you a

great deal about the night. I do know it was the first of April, the old Smokehouse (long closed) was crowded, the music was loud, and I was simply looking for a relaxing evening with old friends. Little did I know that on this night a chance encounter would forever change my life, and for that I will be forever grateful. That was the night I met my dearest friend.

 

She was there to celebrate the birthday of a co-worker. I was in town for supplies, and to blow off a bit of steam. She was shy and quiet, I was a bit boisterous and rough around the edges. She was a clerk in a local department store, I was working out of Drake, Arizona, population five or six, and got to town every three or four weeks. She drove a ’70 Dodge Charger. My transportation was a well worn ’46 GMC truck. 

As my pockets were usually filled with moths and sand more often than they were filled with money, our dates were simple affairs; a movie at the State Theater downtown and a burger at the drug store soda fountain, a barbecue with friends, and long desert walks, a double date to the drive in theater or a picnic cruise in a friends ’26 Ford. Good memories every one.

Fast forward a year. Things had gotten serious and now there were dates that included conversations about marriage. Money, however, was still a bit of a deterrent.  With the closure of Duval, the mining company north of Kingman that was a major employer, work was scarce. A mine closure is what led me to leave Silver City, New Mexico and relocate back to Kingman via Drake.

I picked up a weeks work here, a few days there, and home was a friends garage with a shower and fold out couch. More often than not, a care package from my dearest friend saved the day. Then, in mid summer I landed a fair job with a landscape contractor who was working on a retirement community project. The pay was adequate and the work to my liking; driving a truck, operating a tractor or two, a bit of ditch digging.

So, we set a date, and found a cheap little apartment downtown. I moved out of the garage, she still lived at home but provided the homey touches that kept it from looking like a bachelor pad. The countdown commenced – two weeks, one week, four days, three days ….

September 9, one day before the wedding. The landscaping project was complete and the owner of the company decided he was overdue for a vacation, for the winter. With layoff notice and paycheck in hand, I set out to find my dearest friend. That was how it all began thirty-four years ago.

As it turned out, that event sort of symbolized our life as husband and wife to this very date. A friend who was a silversmith offered to make our wedding rings. I woke him up a few hours before the wedding so he could finish them. I had a flat tire on the way to the wedding, and tore my only dress paints. J.C. Penny’s was a few blocks from the church but the closest I could come was pants one size to large.

It has truly been a grand adventure, to say the very least. From my dearest friend I learned about trust and forgiveness. Her boundless patience and encouragement are made manifest every day.  She has lived in a never ending construction project for years but yet encourages me to spend more time doing what I enjoy.  It was her support, and encouragement, that led to the writing of books and the creation of Jim Hinckley’s America. We have shared adventures that never could have been imagined when we tied the knot. It has been a long and twisted road filled with smiles and sorrow, laughter and tribulation but I honestly can’t imagine what would have become of me without her by my side. 

Dear friend, thank you. Here is to another thirty years of adventure, laughter, and the trials of life.

Moose Drool, Anniversaries, Neon & Good Friends

You would have to drive from Death Valley to Loveland Pass in

Colorado to find lows and highs equal to what we have been through in the past week or so. To paraphrase (or plagiarize) a bit of classic literature, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times: dedication of a memorial to a valued friend and a bit of bittersweet family time with my dearest friend and son, the debut of a new book and unexpected support from friends, squandered opportunities and unnecessary battles, taxes and hard choices, memories and reflections. 

An emotional ceremony, the unveiling of the Twin Arrows Trading Post model created by Willem Bor at Antares Point Route 66 Visitor Center. Photo Sam Fiorella.

On Sunday, with artist Gregg Arnold, the model of Twin Arrows Trading Post created by Willem Bor was unveiled at Antares Point Route 66 Visitor Center east of Kingman. The stand, created by Arnold, and the setting were poignant and moving for a number of reasons.

Even though our association with Willem, and his wife Monique, was quite short, we enjoyed memorable milestones in life with these friends.  As we pulled the cover from the display, I flashed on our first evening in Europe, and a delightful dinner in Willem and Monique’s home where the artists handiwork was on full display. Thoughts turned to last summer in Germany when a contingent of Dutch friends, including Willem and Monique, enjoyed dinner, laughter, and lively conversation. Clouding these delightful memories was the death of Willem earlier this year.  Continue reading “Moose Drool, Anniversaries, Neon & Good Friends”

A Look Behind The Curtain

Raise your hand if your envious of the travel writer,

the person who enjoys a carefree life of adventure where days are spent visiting exotic locations, meeting colorful and fascinating people, and extolling the delights of charming restaurants, bistros, taverns and historic saloons? When trapped in the mind numbing world of cubicles, power tripping bosses, subsistence level wages, impossible to meet deadlines, or days spent slaving under a broiling sun, it is hard not to. Then, you peek behind the curtain and the cubicle doesn’t seem so bad after all.  

I have been telling people where to go for fun and profit since 1990.  That has provided my dearest friend and I with endless opportunity for memorable adventures, for meeting wonderful people,  and for priceless friendships. On occasion, I have also had mind numbing jobs and endured belittling bosses, often to support the writing habit and ensure that we continue the eating habit.

In all those years, I have yet to meet a writer that pays the bills by writing, or a writer that could imagine doing anything else in life. The fact is, the travel writer writes because they enjoy it,  because they have a passion for sharing adventures and for inspiring road trips, and because like the prospector of old or the person who faithfully buys a lottery ticket every week, they can’t help but believe fame and fortune awaits them with the next book. In short, we are dreamers.  Continue reading “A Look Behind The Curtain”