Phase one of the narrated self guided historic district walking tour in Kingman, Arizona being developed by Kingman Main Street provided a new venue for exercising the talent that has led some folks to refer to me as “America’s storyteller. And it provided the opportunity to share fascinating stories such as the one about the Dunton family and their nearly 100 year association with Route 66.
In the 1930s Taylor Owen Ford operated from the old Kingman Motor Company facility across from the railroad depot. This garage and dealership complex had been established in about 1912 by J.A. Tarr.
After razing a house and service station at Front and Second Street, a new Taylor Owen Ford dealership was built in 1946. On June 13th of that year, it was announced that the newly completed dealership was being sold to N.R. Dunton, a garage owner from Goldroad, and that it would be renamed N.R. Dunton Motor Company.
Dunton had been working at the garage in Goldroad since the highway was known as the National Old Trails Road. He built Cool Springs, a service station complex, on the east side of Sitgreaves Pass in the Black Mountains in about 1925. Then after acquisition of the Goldroad garage, he beganoffering a towing service for vehicles that had trouble climibing the steep grade to the summit.
In 1950, the N.R. Dunton Motor Company was again reorganized and sold to Roy Dunton, nephew of N.R., and Herb Biddulph, the first mayor of Kingman. In about 1957, Roy Dunton bought out his partner and transformed the facility into an Edsel dealership. In 1960 with suspension of Edsel production the company began selling Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles. In 1963 it was converted to a GM franchise store. In 1980 the facility was leased to the Mohave County Road Department. Ten years later the Dunton family resumed management and created Dunton Motors Dream Machines. The facility is also the headquarters for the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona.
Even after penning twenty books and hundreds of feature articles, making countless presentations in the United States and Europe, and sitting for a multitude of interviews I still have trouble with that moniker. When I think of American storytellers, Will Rogers, Mark Twain and Paul Harvey come to mind.
But I imagine that most writers and tellers of tales suffer from something similar. The minds eye perception of self is often quite different from how the way the world sees us. The recent publication of a video by the crew at 2Lane Life is what started this train of thought. More specifically it was the comments posted that led to reflection on the title America’s storyteller.
Meanwhile, spring is shaping up to be a rather busy season for this old story teller even though having my Facebook account locked has created promotional and marketing issues. On Friday the 4th of March, 5:30 MST, at the Beale Street campus of Mohve Community College there is a reading of my new book, Here We Are … On Route 66. This will serve as the official kick off for the book that was released last month.
Then the following day at 1:00, I will make a presentation about the history of the great American road trip. This will take place at the Mohave Museum of History & Arts in Kingman.
Without access to Facebook the Coffee With Jim program on Sunday morning is being shifted to the Eventbrite platform. The Wake Up With Jim program, the Jim Hinckley’s America audio podcast that is broadcast live on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6:30 MST, and archived on our Podbean page, is being added to additional app platforms.
A full slate of community education programs has been developed for Mohave Community College. These include walking tours in the historic business district and at historic sites such as Beale Springs, site of the 1870s military outpost and the first reservation for the Hualapai tribe.
But the big event is scheduled for May 27, National Road Trip Day. The proclamation will be made in Kingman and a block party event is being built around that annoucement. Linked with this will be a full weekend of events along Route 66 in Seligman, Oatman and Needles, if things go as planned.
What an interesting way to make a living as I ride out the last chapter of life, a professional gum beater. See you on the road, mi amigos.