As I have about forty-five minutes until Scott Miller calls and the interview with Dave Plier at WGN in Chicago begins, it seemed like a great time to post a few updates, and a few notes about the coming weekend.
Saturday is shaping up to be one of those days where it starts on a dead run and doesn’t end until somewhere just short of midnight. That isn’t as bad as it sounds.
In the morning I need to correlate a surprisingly large pile of research material for the new book. Great stuff is buried in the reams of notes, print outs, and notebooks. Did you know that the first pedestrian killed by an automobile occurred in 1899 or that the vehicle involved was an electric taxi?
Did you know that Studebaker offered a Perkins diesel option for fleet sales vehicles such as taxis in 1950? Did you know that Checker built taxis, on order, utilizing Perkins diesel engines in the 1960s? Did you know that San Francisco taxi drivers (hack men)formed a union in 1904?
Those are just a bit of the tidbits destined for inclusion in the new book to be published by History Press. Likewise with stories of Lawrence Fay, a New York gangster who turned prohibition profits into a taxi cab empire, and Basil Hugh Banghart, a Detroit based car thief who stole over one hundred cars between 1920 and 1926, and converted most of them into taxi cabs.
Chillin’ on Beale in Kingman, Arizona
Similar activities and, perhaps, a bit of home repair will consume most of the day. When the day gives way to evening, we should be sharing a delicious dinner at Redneck’s Southern Barbecue with friends, and setting up our chairs for an evening of Chillin’ on Beale.
As there is no registration, and as it is open to anything with wheels, this low key, fun filled evening is always filled with surprises. It kicks off on the third Saturday evening of each month, April through October, at about sundown. The August edition will take place during the Route 66 International Festival.
With that lead in I would like to provide a few updates for the festival. I think a few of these may have you making plans for a trip to Kingman on August 14.
The walk of fame honoring the individuals that contributed to the evolution of a dusty trail into an American highway is a go. There were a few setbacks resultant of issues to resolve with zoning and related matters.
To fund a brick and nominate an individual for inclusion, contact the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce. The actual time for the walks dedication has yet to be set but it will take place during the festival, and as plans call for the walk to run the length of the Route 66 corridor in the historic district, it will be an ongoing project.
The Route 66 Crossroads of the Past and Future conference is an exciting part of the festival. Even though it won’t be an actual convention with workshops and similar activities, it is a vital first step toward that goal.
The hope is that next year there will be a full fledged Route 66 convention similar to those once organized by the U.S. Highway 66 Association. Details are less than vague but I can tell you that plans have been initiated to make that a reality, and discussions are underway.
Meanwhile, for this years festival the conference will feature a diverse array of notable speakers. This and ample opportunity to expand on presentations with discussions at the authors, artists, collectors, and Route 66 association representative exposition should lay some solid groundwork for establishment of cooperatives and partnerships.
The tentative list of speakers and topics includes Kaisa Barthuli of the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, Dries Bessels of the Dutch Route 66 Association, a state of the road address by Michael Wallace, several representatives from state Route 66 associations, Jerry Asher speaking on Plug Share, Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce, Tudor Melville of SunTech, Roderick Wilde of the Historic Electric Vehicle Association, Ed Klein of Route 66 World, Rudy Garcia with EV Station Solutions, Jim Ross, John Holod on Route 66 by RV, and Professor Nick Gerlich on bicycling Route 66 and related tourism.
The next item of interest is the forthcoming Rockabilly on the Route in Tucumcari. This fledgling event is fast becoming a major attraction that promises to ensure this tarnished New Mexico gem gets a bit of polish and a whole lot of notice.
Details are still pending but the Route 66 event in Holbrook being developed for the weekend before the festival in Kingman to allow visitors an opportunity to enjoy a full week of fun on Route 66 in Arizona, is already shaping up to be a spectacular and memorable event. On the schedule, a very rare opportunity to tour the section of Route 66 through the Painted Desert National Park east to the Painted Desert Trading Post.
On our list of events to look forward to is Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri. This delightful small town event captures the very essence of the authentic American experience that attracts thousands of international visitors to Route 66. Several years ago we introduced The Route 66 Encyclopedia at this wonderful event. This year Cuba Fest is the setting for the debut and promotional launch for The Illustrated Route 66 Historic Atlas. As with each book the frustration is size constraints that make it a challenge to determine what is left out. More often than not this is magnified during the final edit process when a request to trim a few thousand words, or in some cases add a few thousand is made by the editor in charge of the project. This was definitely one of the more challenging, and rewarding projects. This time I dug deep into the dark recesses of Route 66 history to uncover stories of mayhem and murder to chronicle crime scene and disaster locations. To provide a bit of balance I also documented film and celebrity associated sites. Points of interest featured in this book include pre 1926 historic sites, military associated locations (POW and internment camps among others), and transitional locations. While we are on the subject of books and a bit of shameless self promotion, here is a link to my authors page on Amazon.com. If you have an opportunity place a review for any of the books I have written to give me an idea as to where improvement is needed, and what Route 66 information is wanted. Another great place to share your input is on the Goodreads website. This is also an excellent on line community for anyone who enjoys books, talking about books, or reviewing books. Well, the time has come for breakfast with Marleen.
Jim Hinckley's America is a grand adventure on the back roads and two lane highways. It is an odyssey seasoned with fascinating people, and memory making discoveries. As made evident by the publication of fourteen books on subjects as diverse as diverse as Ghost Towns of the Southwest, The Illustrated History of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, Travel Route 66, Backroads of Arizona, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia, I enjoy sharing adventures and helping people plan for their own memory making journeys.