The writing of the captions for the Route 66 encyclopedia has been an interesting exercise as I found myself being drawn into some of the old photos. The little details pique the imagination; a lady leaving the bank in circa 1930 Weatherford, Oklahoma, a man on the running board of a Model A in Camp Cajon, an automobile of early teens vintage on the street in Barstow in about 1940.
Others that act as windows into the lost world of places like Pillman’s Camp in Arlington, Missouri, or Wetherholt’s Ideal Cabin Camp in Pontiac, Illinois leave me scratching my head. When were they built? Who was the owner or proprietor? What are Nebo oil products?
Loose ends such as these are most frustrating as my quest from the inception of this project was to craft a Route 66 time capsule with as much detail and depth as possible. To that end I turned over stones in all eight states through which the highway passes, delved into some very dusty spots, and pestered a number of enthusiasts, historians, and a few friends.
I will wrap it up by the end of the week, send it to the publisher, sit back and wait for the galley proof, and worry over details or things that may have been overlooked. This too is part of the process, at least for me.
High on my wish list of projects to be built on the foundation of this book is an educational program for schools that will spark an interest in history, specifically Route 66 as a mirror of societal evolution for the past century. The cornerstone of this will be the donation of copies of the book to school libraries and a vintage car that will spark immediate interest and stimulate conversation.
I have been leaning toward a Hudson Hornet, or perhaps a bullet nosed Studebaker, but have not given up on the idea of using a Model A Ford for this cross country adventure. What better vehicle for introducing a new generation to the Grapes of Wrath, the Great Depression, and the infancy of Route 66?
The Hudson and its association with the animated film, Cars, presents almost infinite possibilities in regard to promotion of the book, this educational program, Route 66, and the businesses and people that make it special. However, it is a car from the golden era of Route 66.
Still, there is just something about the Model A that invokes simpler times. It is almost magical in its ability to induce friendly conversation. From that perspective this lowly old Ford has a great deal in common with Route 66.
At this time, this all a mute point but pipe dreams can and do become realities, especially with a little hard work, a whole lot of thick skinned perseverance, and a great deal of patience. Meanwhile, the first task is completion of the captions.