It was never my intent to live a life linked to Route 66. Still, as I
look back over the years there is one common thread that ties it all together – Route 66. I have told the tale often, most recently for the new magazine Route, but that road has been has been a major part of my life since 1959. Now, looking toward the foreseeable future, it looks like that storied old highway will be taking us into the final chapter, and some of the most amazing adventures to date.
Currently it is a book for Rio Nuevo Publishing that is consuming an inordinate amount of my time. For those with morbid curiosity or a fascination with the dark side of Route 66, this will be a very popular book. When the project commenced, I had few illusions about what would be found with research. Route 66 was an artery of commerce licit and illicit, and the towns along the highway were filled with people – hard working people, criminals and thieves, psychos and gangsters, people filled with prejudice and virtue. Still some of the discoveries have been, at the very least, a bit disturbing.
An unsolved series of brutal murders in Tulsa between 1942 and 1948, a savage band of brothers that devastated the Springfield, Missouri police department, a murder for hire dentist in St. Louis, vicious wars for dominance of the taxi industry in Chicago, and a cold blooded killer named “”Baby Face” Doody are just a few of the stories that will unfold. It should be available for purchase by the end of the year but I will keep you posted.
Vying for my time is the development of two exciting projects, and the hunt for funds needed to bring them to fruition. One is the second European Route 66 Festival in Zlin, Czech Republic. Organizers have requested that I make a presentation on the highways history, and renaissance at the event. They have also requested assistance with creation of a Route 66 information center at the event. On both counts I was quite honored.
The second project is a bit more ambitious. It is rooted in our weekly Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook live programs and their popularity (last year the reach was nearly 79,000 people). As the programs were conceived as a platform for promoting artists, authors, photographers, and small business owners, and the provision of inspiration through interviews with community leaders, taking the show on the road, literally, seemed like the next step. So, as envisioned, this fall we will travel Route 66 from end to end, and host 21-programs in 21-days. Discussions are under way with developers of the Revive 66 initiative to link the adventure with their project. I am also looking to include evening presentations on Route 66, its history and culture, and the economic potential represented in the renaissance.
As is often the case, funding remains a primary issue. So, I built and launched a crowdfunding platform, and set out to find sponsors for both projects. To date, I have a tour company that is on board to support a portion of the fall tour, and an automotive dealership combine that will cover airfare for the trip to the Czech Republic. I can also thank people like David and Amanda Brenner, owners of the Roadrunner Lodge in Tucumcari, New Mexico, Sarah Elizabeth of Southwest Trading Company, and Dale Butel of Australian based Route 66 Tours for support of our crowdfunding initiative, We still have a long ways to go, so I hope that you will consider lending a bit of support, and if you have a business, becoming a sponsor.
We will provide regular updates on these as well as other exciting projects in a new weekly Facebook live program. Tune in as some of these will be linked with visits to interesting restaurants, Old West saloons, and fascinating museums. I would also like to suggest that you join the Jim Hinckley’s America Adventurers Club Facebook group and help us tell people where to go.