There are many days when it becomes very difficult not to think that I am jousting at windmills. I spend the day at a dead run, accomplish everything on the “to do” list, and the end result is an unnerving silence in response to correspondence as well as a haunting feeling that nothing really was accomplished.
Yesterday morning over breakfast I responded to emails, cleared the desk in anticipation of this weekends fun filled tax prep party, ordered a copy of Jim Ross’s book, Oklahoma Route 66, and another title by Skip Curtis, The Missouri US 66 Tour Book, compiled a list of people that I need to thank for making this past weekend a success, and finalized the material for the sale of stock photos that will be added to the website, Route 66 Info Center.
During lunch I composed a rough layout for an updated second edition of The Big Book of Car Culture In spite of excellent international reviews and being awarded the bronze medal at the International Automotive Media Awards this book never sold in the numbers I felt it should have.
In retrospect, I now see that to a large degree that would be my fault. At the point in my career when the book was released I did not have the contacts or fully understand what was needed to promote a book.
Roughly, what I have in mind is to eliminate some material that stretches the relationship with automotive culture, and add detailed information about Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway. If possible I would also add some material pertaining to U.S. 6.
One idea I have is to add a map section for each state. A solid map showing the original alignment and then clear overlays with the subsequent ones.
Most importantly, I would like to revamp the cover. It seems everyone who picks up this book finds it fascinating and hard to put down. The problem is the cover does not grab the attention.
What I would like to see is some good vintage Route 66 neon, and, perhaps a vintage Harley Davidson advertisement, set against a classic Route 66 photo background. In the background photo a string of Burma Shave signs or a vintage billboard promoting the Lincoln V12 would be seen along the highway. Perhaps something iconic like Cool Springs.
Here are a couple of ideas for the background photo –

Meanwhile, work continues to finish Ghost Towns of Route 66. I am suffering from a wide array of emotions with this project.
The editorial constraints mean that I will have to leave some material on the cutting room floor. Then there is the looming deadline for completion. Added to the mix is the frustration with documenting the history of some of these places.
New Mexico is a particular challenge. Some of the towns on the pre 1937 alignment through Santa Fe are almost two hundred years old and their origins and history is rather vague.
While not quite as old, Romeroville is a prime example. I have information pertaining to its founder, the territorial representative in Congress, his lavish estate where he hosted presidents and dignitaries such as General Sherman, and the fate of his home. What I do not have is concrete information about the Indian village that was on the site originally.
The flip side is the neat material I do have. This includes diary excerpts from the 1840s, military records pertaining to the expeditions to Santa Fe during the Mexican-American war, and travel notes from the teens pertaining to automotive travel during this period.
I am quite excited to see this book in print. My hope is that it will fill in a few of the blank spots in the history of Route 66 as well as encourage folks who travel that storied highway to take more time for exploration as well as contemplation.
Meanwhile, the countdown has begun to road trip season!

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