There are a number of advantages to having survived more than a half century spent learning things the hard way. The narrowing of the list for what I want to do when I grow up is one of these. Another is the realization that I am smart enough to bluff my way through most anything short of brain surgery and home vasectomy but the blessings in the form of talents bestowed upon me are few.
When I first began trading the written word for food, money, and other gratuities my primary concern was that I would be caught imitating a writer. Then came the concern that if I was blessed with the talent to be a writer, there was a responsibility to develop it. Last but not least is the dawning realization, after the writing of several hundred feature articles, and a half dozen books, that I may have discovered my special purpose.
So, it was with that liberating line of thinking that I jumped at the chance to write a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas and, after a bit of negotiation, accepted a contract that was not ideal but had potential for possible profit. The mere thought of writing for profit, a novelty in itself, further fueled my excitement.
At the time it really seemed like a good idea. On occasion it still does. Of course that is usually on the days that did not start at 4:00 by answering correspondence and ended around 10:00 with me stumbling off to bed bleary eyed from trying to write several thousand words after a full day at the real job, the one that pays the bills and that supports the writing habit.
I am now closing in on 60,000 words of text and have edited almost two hundred photos. So, it looks as though I am rapidly closing in on the half way point and still have ten months before deadline.
The research and study has filled my head with fact after fact, and the file cabinet and desk to overflowing with notes, notebooks, and papers, and yet there is so much more to learn, so much more to share in this magnum opus.

  • Route 66 Magazine celebrated its 18th year of publication with the winter 2010 issue –
  • Murray’s Ranch in Victorville was billed as the only “Negro Dude Ranch in the World” during the 1950s –
  • Automobile registration in Oklahoma jumped from 15,000 in 1914 to more than 500,000 in 1926 –
  • In 1955 only 20% of Oklahoma’s highways had paved surfaces –
  • Initially the National Old Trails Highway, predecessor to Route 66 was to follow a segment of the Trail to Sunset from Santa Fe to Yuma via Albuquerque, Springerville and Globe in Arizona –
  • Lyon’s Park near Arcadia, Oklahoma was one of the few amusement parks in the county during the 1930s that catered to African-American customers –
  • Sammy Davis Jr. lost his eye as a result of an automobile accident on Route 66 –
  • Before 1937 the highest point on Route 66 was Glorietta Pass in New Mexico. After the bypass resultant of a realignment in 1937, the highest point was Bellmont in Arizona –
  • For Hyde Park in Arizona, the slogan pasted on signs for a hundred miles in both directions was “Park Your Hide Tonight At Hyde Park” –
  • Lawndale in Illinois was originally platted at 19 blocks –
  • Essex in California was the last community in the United States to acquire television service –
  • Goffs in California was once the junction for two railroad lines and two highways, the National Old Trails Highway and the Arrowhead Highway –
  • Endee in New Mexico is named for the ND Ranch –
  • The Madonna of the Trail statue in Springerville, Arizona, one in a  series placed along the National Old Trails Highway by the Daughters of the American Revolution, was originally slated for Kingman, Arizona –
  • The origination for Spencer, Missouri was the construction of a mill there in 1858 –
  • Of the three remaining Wigwam Motels, two are located on Route 66 –
  • The sharpest curves and steepest grades found on Route 66 are La Bajada Hill on the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66, not the pre 1952 alignment in the Black Mountains of Arizona –
  • Emily Post wrote, in 1916, that La Bajada Hill was the best section of road between Las Vegas and Albuquerque –
  • Truxton, Arizona,1952 is one of the newest towns to be established on Route 66 before its decommissioning –
  • The California State Highway Department noted an average of 300 motor vehicle per day crossing the river from Arizona at Needles –
  • In 1924 the California Highway Department suggested that three days be allowed for travel from San Bernardino to Needles. Barney Oldfield, during the 1914 Desert Classic Race, had driven this route as part of the course that ran from Los Angeles to Phoenix, and had completed the entire race in 16 hours, forty minutes –

But the greatest discoveries are not the facts and trivia. Its the people met in my adventures with writing, their passions as they pertain to the old highway, and their willingness to share the fruit of those passions to ensure my books are well seasoned. As an example consider this amazing collection and the books written by Joe Sonderman.
This will be the second time Joe has graciously lent assistance to making sure my projects are full of flavor. The first endeavor was on Ghost Towns of Route 66
It is people like Joe that make my quest to become a writer enjoyable. It is notes from those who read the finished product that is my reward.


Route 66, the Mother Road, the road of flight for those chased from their land by clouds of top soil that turned the day into night, the gateway to adventure for the first wave of baby boomers who saw the country through the back window of the station wagon, and the stuff of dreams for a new generation discovering the legendary highways charms in the first decades of the 21st century. There is another chapter in the highways history and it is one seldom discussed.
For the Negro, the polite word used to differentiate American citizens of African-American heritage during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, Route 66 had a dark side. From Chicago to Los Angeles these vacationers, these displaced people in search of a new life as they motored west on the double six, experienced the old road from the shadows.
More often than not, the beacon of neon at the end of a long day of driving was not a welcome site for these folks. Neither was the cafe known for its good food by the number of trucks parked out front.
Driving straight through by changing drivers was one option but this too carried its share of risks as some communities had sunset laws that prohibited “Negroes” from being on the streets at night. So, to avoid embarrassing, or even potentially dangerous, situations there were restless, uncomfortable nights spent sleeping in the car or on the ground and lots of picnic lunches.
Thanks to Victor H. Green these travelers were provided with another option, The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide that listed motels, hotels, service stations, garages, restaurants, and other businesses that catered to African-Americans or at least allowed them to use the rear entrance or sleep on cots in the basement.
Victor Green is one of those fellows who decided to light a candle rather than curse the darkness and though he played a major role in the transformation of America, obscurity has been his reward. Born in Harlem, New York, in 1892, Green began gathering information about businesses in the New York area where disenfranchised African-Americans could find services and in 1936 published the first edition of a pamphlet that became known as the Green Book.
By 1949 his little booklet had become an 80 page travel guide that worked hand in glove with his travel business. Like Martin Luther King Jr., Green was a man with a dream, “There will be a day something in the near future when this guide will not have to published. That is when we as a race will have equal rights and privileges in the United States.”
In 1952, he changed the name for his guide to The Negro Travelers Green Book and expanded the content to include international destinations but publication still took place at his travel office located at 200 W. 135th Street in Harlem. With passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, publication ceased.
It was after careful deliberation that I decided to give a cursory salute to the contributions of Victor Green and shine the light on a dark corner of history. It is something I have been wanting to do for sometime and as I will be providing more information about the Green Book in the forthcoming Route 66 encyclopedia, a preview seemed in order.
However, the real catalyst was the fact that this coming Monday we will be celebrating the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. and there is a growing cacophony of shrill voices crying out to have Huckleberry Finn fixed so it suits our modern, thin skinned sensitivities. By ignoring the era when the Green Book was as much a traveling tool as a jack or spare tire for a large segment or our population, or by removing the offensive “nigger” word from this classic book we do a grave disservice to our children and our heritage.
By rewriting history as we would like it to have been we distort the vision of the future because we are blinded to the progress made. In so doing we empower those who use the chains of prejudice for their personal gain or as justification for their hatred.
So, for fans of the double six, expand your horizons, find a copy of the Green Book, if you can, and see Route 66 as never before. And for those who choose to while away long winter evenings with a good book, discover or rediscover the masterful writings of Mark Twain, and spend some time with Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, mileposts on the road to an America where the dreams of many of the founders of this nation, of Martin Luther King Jr., and Victor Green are made manifest in a president of African American heritage.