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Death At Every Turn

Route 66 and the words horrible crash, multiple deaths,

fatalities, and other descriptors of tragedy were often linked on the front pages of newspapers. There was a reason that the highway was known as “Bloody 66.”

The Times, San Mateo California – FIVE KILLED IN BARSTOW CRASH.

February 21, 1956 Barstow (UP) – Five Los Angeles area residents, three of them children, were killed in a two-car collision 15 miles west of here on Highway 66, the Highway Patrol disclosed today. Two persons, one an adult and the other a young girl, were critically injured in the crash late yesterday and were taken to San Bernardino County Hospital where they were feared near death. Coroner P. H. Evans identified the victims as: MRS. BLANCHE HAINES CLAUDIO, 31, and three of her four daughters, EMILY, SUSAN and AGNES, about 3, 5 and 11 years old. The Claudio family lives at Torrance. The fifth victim was listed as MARIANO SONGA MacAPINLAE, 60, of Los Angeles, a nightclub owner. Critically injured were DIANE CLAUDIO, 8, and ALBERT O. STEVENS, 29, of Hollywood. Officers said STEVENS apparently was alone in one car while the other crash victims were in the second car, which was driven by MRS. CLAUDIO. Patrolman A. M. Smith reported the collision occurred when MRS. CLAUDIO apparently tried to pass a car and struck STEVENS’ oncoming westbound auto.

Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois – SEVEN KILLED IN MISSOURI AUTO COLLISION.

May 30, 1957 Cuba, Mo., May 29 (AP) – A highway intersection crash killed seven persons today in central Missouri’s worst highway accident in more than 10 years. Five others were injured. One car pulled onto U.S. Highway 66 from Missouri Highway 19 and was rammed by another car in which five members of a suburban Chicago family were headed west on Route 66. The intersection on the outskirts of this east central Missouri town is marked by a blinker signal, with traffic on the federal highway having right of way. MRS. MARJORIE PARSON, 30, of Melrose Park, Ill., died after the crash in a hospital in nearby Rolla, Mo. Killed in the Missouri car were HENRY ALLISON, 49, his wife, ETHELYN; CLARENCE BYARS, about 70, and his wife, MAY ELIZABETH, all of Auxvasse, Mo.; and SAM WATTS, about 70, and his wife, SUE, both of Mexico, Mo. MRS. BYARS was a sister of MRS. WATTS and the mother of MRS. ALLISON. GERALD PARSON, 36, of Melrose Park, husband of one victim and driver of their car, was quoted by police as saying “the car just jumped out in front of me – I didn’t see it in time.” The PARSON car left skid marks for a short distance to the point of impact. It apparently struck the side of the Missouri car. PARSON was reported in serious condition and his daughter, SANDRA, 8, in critical condition at a Rolla hospital. Less seriously injured were two more PARSON children, JENNY, 6, and JERRY, 4, and BILLY JOE ALLISON, only survivor in the Missouri car.

Abilene Reporter News, Abilene, Texas HEAD ON CRASH FATAL TO 6

June 28, 1937 AMARILLO, June 28. (AP)–Funeral services will be held today and tomorrow for six victims of a head on automobile crash seven miles west of Erick, Okla., Saturday night.Those dying in the accident were: Miss Opal Hammons, 20; Miss Laverne Avant, 19, and Alfred Eugene Harmon, 24, of Erick. Herbert Wayne Copeland, Jr., 16, and E. L. Bartlett, 20, of Texola, Okla. Lonnie Wendell Copeland, 16, of near Shamrock, Texas.

Harmon was traveling alone in his car. The other victims were in a car driven by Bartlett. Five died in the crash. Herbert Wayne Copeland died yesterday in a Shamrock hospital. Funeral services for Miss Hamons, Miss Avant and Bartlett will be held tomorrow at Sayre, Okla. Herbert Wayne Copeland and Lonnie Wendell Copeland were to be buried this afternoon at Shamrock. Harmon’s body was sent to Drumwright, Okla., for burial.

I have finished the draft for my latest book, and as with every project, it was a voyage of discovery. Now it is time to sort out the photo file, and as with previous projects I am indebted to Joe Sonderman, contributor of our cover file. For some books, the research phase is a walk on the wild side. This book was a walk on the dark side, a stroll into the shadows.

Suffice to say, I have a deeper understanding of why this highway had a reputation for death, mayhem, and tragedy. To borrow a line from classic literature, traveling Route 66 during the glory days was the best of times, and the worst of times.

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