THE CHANGING FACE OF ROUTE 66, A BOOK RECOMMENDATION, AND ASSORTED NOTES
The year 2015 is not quite two months old and already the face Route 66 experience has changed dramatically. This time it was with the announcement that Scott Cameron of Route 66 Sodas and Mr. C’s Routepost near Lebanon, Missouri had passed away.
Scott, however, was much more than just another passionate and friendly Route 66 business owner that extended a warm and welcome greeting to travelers. If your not familiar with his interesting story, Route 66 News posted a feature profiling a few of his accomplishments.
Even though we stayed in contact with an occasional phone call and by email, we met Scott but one time. My dearest friend and I were headed home on the final leg of a book signing and promotional tour that had taken us as far as Chicago, and that included a formal book signing at the museum in Lebanon.
On these ventures every effort is made to visit with the owner of mom and pop shops, and if they carry our books, sign them. This gives them and us a promotional boost as the publisher will advertise locations where signed copies are available, and I add that list to the blog.
As it turned out, the planned short introductory meeting and informal book signing morphed into a most fascinating conversation in which we lost track of time and derailed our schedule. On Scott’s insistence, we left with a six-pack of Route 66 soda. That afternoon rates quite high on our Route 66 experiences list.
The loss of Scott, as well as Gary Turner and Becky of Becky’s Barn, will dramatically change the face of Route 66. These losses will also cast a long shadow over adventures on Route 66 this year.
A bit closer to home, I attended a memorial for Peggy Dunton yesterday afternoon. Peggy was the matriarch of the Dunton clan, and the wife of Roy Dunton.
Outside of the Kingman area the family may not be very well known but they have an association with Route 66 development that stretches to the era of the National Old Trails Highway. From a garage in Goldroad to the establishment of Cool Springs, from the creation of Mr. D’z to an Edsel dealership that fronted Route 66, this family has been at center stage of Route 66 development in western Arizona since its inception.
For the most part Saturday was relatively low key. Breakfast with our son kicked off the day, and then I repaired a brake light on the Jeep, worked a bit on Barney the Wonder truck, our well worn but dependable work horse, and then turned my attentions toward tax preparation linked to valiant attempts to bring order to the office, and then the writing of a book review for True West. Watching The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart rounded things out rather nicely.
The review written was for a most fascinating and enthralling new book from University of Oklahoma Press, Motoring West, Volume 1 (a hopeful teaser that there is more to come). Simply put, this book is a richly detailed time capsule that is crafted from a compilation of carefully selected journal entries, magazine features from publications as diverse as Scientific American and Harpers, automobile manufacturing company promotional brochures, and newspaper articles that detail motoring adventures between 1900 and 1909. Engaging and insightful introductions by Editor Peter J. Blodgett round things out nicely.
This book will be a welcome addition to the nightstand as well as library if you have an interest in automotive history, or just enjoy tales of endurance, exploration, and the trials and tribulations of high adventure on the western frontier.
Here is an excerpt from Motoring West that presents a pretty clear picture of what it was like to own an automobile, and to attempt to drive it out of town, before 1909.
In describing a drive from San Francisco to Nevada in 1901, “Adobe roads when dry and hard hold out opportunities for good going, but when the sponge like soil is soaked with moisture, when your wheels cut in, spin around, slip and slide from the course and suddenly your machine is off the road and into the swamp ditch – buried to the axles in the soft “doby” – then the fun begins.
Pull out block and tackle, wade around in the mud, get soaked to the skin and chilled from the effects of the deluge, make fastenings to the fence or telephone post and pull. Pull hard, dig your heels into the mud, and exert every effort at command. The machine moves, your feet slip, and down in the mud you go full length. Repeat the dose and continue the operation until the machine is free from the ditch and again upon the road.”
Here is the line I liked best – “Slow work – not discouraging in the least, but a bit disagreeable, considering that it is the first day out and you are anxious to make a clever initial run.”
Why there is so little written about this fascinating period of history mystifies me. For just a moment consider this; Buffalo Bill bought a 1903 Michigan.
A few years later Geronimo posed in a Cadillac. On the Senator Highway in Arizona, the Palace Station maintained a blacksmith shop and auto repair facility in 1906, and automobiles and stagecoaches used that road at the same time. The last use of a horse mounted posse to capture cattle rustlers in New Mexico took place at Endee in 1909.
Today will be another relatively low key venture. There will be a bit of time devoted to taxes, attention given the self publishing endeavor (chapter one, a detailed guide to Kingman, is almost finished),and then a delightful luncheon shared with my dearest friend, and Mike and Sharon Ward.
That should set the stage for the coming week with a schedule that includes writing, meetings, and visits.