Even though it was often said that I had a gift for telling people where to go,
it was at least ten years after the publication of my first feature article before an attempt was made to capitalize on that talent. Well, that was almost twenty years ago and though fortune in the form of financial compensation has proven somewhat elusive, it has been a truly rewarding endeavor. It has also been an educational experience, a faith building endeavor, a grand adventure, a chance to hone my skill as a pinata impersonator, an international odyssey, and an endless opportunity to meet the most fascinating people. This and the friendships made along the way are the true reward that has come from harnessing my gift for telling folks where to go.
Sunset in Kingman, Arizona
Now, with eager anticipation and a touch of apprehension I am turning my sights toward 2017. First, however, I need to give 2016 a proper send off. On Friday morning, at 6:15 Arizona time, there is theJim Hinckley’s Americaprogram from Beale Street Brews on Facebook live. I will be answering readers questions (feel free to ask your questions on Friday morning, or by email) about Route 66, the road less traveled, and the infancy of the American auto industry, and talk a bit about the exciting events pending for 2017. I also plan on introducing folks to Ralph Teetor, the inventor of cruise control. That evening the Route 66 Association of Kingman will be hosting a reception for Rasheed Hooda, a fascinating gentleman who is walking Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, at Calico’s on Beale Street at 6:00 PM. (more…)
The list of celebrities, legendary cowboys, movie stars, and famous artists
that have called Kingman home, or that have stopped by for a visit or two over the years is surprisingly lengthy. However, with the exception of Pamela Anderson’s indecent exposure incident, even in Kingman, this celebrity association is often less than an historic footnote .
Recently two of these esteemed individuals, Andy Devine and Bob Boze Bell, author of the Route 66 Kid were awarded a rather prestigious award, induction into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. As a result, once again the international media spotlight focused on Kingman, just as it did in the 1950’s when the television program This Is Your Life honored Andy Devine, in 1939 when Clark Gable and Carol Lombard married here, and in 1925 when Buster Keaton selected the ranch of Tap Duncan north of Kingman as a filming location for his latest motion picture, Go West. (more…)
the tag line from one of Ned Jordan’s most famous advertising campaigns. For those not familiar with Mr. Jordan, or the legendary automobile that he manufactured, suffice to say that he was a very talented salesman, a golden tongued wordsmith that transformed the business of automotive advertisement.
I often give thought to Mr. Jordan, William Crapo Durant, the genius beyond the founding of General Motors, and similar super salesmen when cruising along US 6, US 50, or any of the old two lane highways. How did Route 66 eclipse them in popularity, how was the highway signed with two sixes transformed into an icon, a symbol of freedom and of opportunity?
For most Route 66 enthusiasts the story is well known. However, before talking about the renaissance, the marketing behind the movement, and the people that are behind both, there is a need to provide a bit of background.
The most famous highway in the world is not America’s most historic or even its most scenic highway. However, US 66 was a favorite of Cyrus Avery‘s many, many projects. He even was instrumental in having the highway signed as US 66.
Through the magic that is “shopping on line” there is still ample time to order a gift or two, and have it arrive on Christmas. As an author I prefer the giving of books, and as I am firmly grounded in the era of the Model A Ford, my preference is for books with paper pages. Even though I applaud and encourage reading of books in any form, it seems unnatural to spend time in the reading room with a Kindleand am quite convinced that a Kindle is a very poor substitute for a Sears catalog.So, let me begin with a sales tool. I can not attest to the validity of the statistics presented but do know that books will greatly enhance life, in spite of the impression often given in school.
These are gift suggestions for the armchair traveler in your family, or the adventurer that spends the winter reading about and planning adventures. Of course, you can always choose to let them shop for themselves with an Amazon gift card.
The first suggestion is Motoring West: Automobile Pioneers, 1900 – 1909by Peter J. Blodgett. This book is actually a series of short stories – written in the opening years of the 20th century. They detail the adventures of early “automobilists” as they pioneered cross country travel by automobile.
Here is an excerpt. This is from the story Automobiling in the West published originally in Scientific America on August 3, 1901. “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 telegraph 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.”
As we are talking about pioneering automobilists, another book that I highly recommend is By Motor to the Golden Gateby Emily Post. Originally published in 1916, this illustrated book presents a fascinating look at early cross country travel and it is written in a manner that places the reader in the passenger seat. As a bonus, some of Post’s trip was along sections of the National Old Trails Highway that latter become Route 66.
For another tremendous book that highlights the adventure and challenges of motoring in the American back country before the advent of the US highway system, I recommend The American Road.
This book is the chronicle of an astounding military expedition that was designed to test the viability of long distance military convoys utilizing motor vehicles, and call attention to the good roads movement that eventually resulted in the creation of the US highway system. Well written, this book almost reads like a novel filled with adventure. Amply illustrated with historic images from the 1919 convoy, and the fact that the future president Dwight David Eisenhower was involved, ensure this will be a memorable read.
The holiday season is a perfect time for telling folks where to go, and if you do it right, they will look forward to the trip. Next week, I will share one more list of gift suggestions.
History is a lot like a good pot of stew. If we merely skim the surface, we miss the meat and potatoes at the bottom. This leaves the impression that the stew is a bit thin, and without a great deal of flavor. Then we tell folks that the stew wasn’t very good and the story is repeated until it becomes fact.
With the passing of time, even photos are not always enough to separate myth from fact. Recently the Route 66 Association of Kingman initiated an ambitious plan to partner with property owners in the historic business district to restore facades as well as historic signage. One of these projects was the Old Trails Garage owned by the Graves family. As historic research is something I engage in regularly, I was asked to assist in determining the date of construction and to find images of the garage that would allow for a more accurate recreation.
The earliest view of the garage was a photo post card from about 1918 in the possession of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts. However, something did not seem right as the garage was supposed to have been built in 1912 or 1914, and I didn’t see the Brunswick Hotel that was built in 1909. This was accredited to a bit of photo editing, common in many early post cards. Then with assistance from Steve Rider, a prolific collector of National Old Trails Highway era post cards, a similar post card was discovered but this one indicated a Needles, California location. (more…)