Over the years I have tried various ways to earn a dollar. Except for the stories and the friends made along the way, I never got rich.
There was a brief time that it looked like politics might be the meal ticket. I was the committeeman for my district, and was courted by some big wigs that tried selling me on the idea that bigger and better things were looming on the horizon for me. And I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with giants such as Senator John McCain. But as politicians with a spine are a rarity, and I was afraid of drowning in the bs, I decided that the political life was not for me.
On more than one occassion as a young man I actually thought that rodeo was my path to fame and fortune. It didn’t take long for me to realize that rodeo was a good living, especially if you didn’t have plans for living long.
Linked with this was an era I now lovingly refer to as my John Wayne period, a way of life I have yet to outgrow. I enjoyed everything about the work, except for the pay. After a year or so of earning my meager wages polishing the leather on the tree, steer wrestling, and generally living as though it was still 1880, I decided that it was time to find a way to fill the pocket with more than sand.
And I tried mining, above and below ground. That was a roller coaster with months of being busier than a one legged man in a behind contest interspersed with long weeks of being unemployed.
Truck driving was an interesting endeavor. My route was from Kingman to Oklahoma City or Wichita, and in those years there were still long stretches of Route 66 that hadn’t been replaced by the interstate highway. On occassion I chose the old double six on purpose. On occassion it was because I knew some of the best places for a piece of pie. And sometimes it was for reasons that are best left unsaid. But truck driving turned one of lifes pleasures, the road trip, into a job. That is never good.
Fast forward to the third decade of the 21st century. It looks like my childhood vision of old age is manifesting. My transition into an odd blending of Slim PIckens, Walter Brennan, Andy Devine, Harry Truman, and Will Rogers is almost complete.
The paycheck is earned by telling stories, telling people where to go, inspiring road trips, bringing history to life, and encouraging people to dream big. With these talents as the foundation Jim Hinckley’s America, and as a result me, continues to evolve.
Aside from the website, books and feature articles, we are now working on two podcasts. And I am working on a schedule for the fall tour, our first since 2019.
Route 66 is a focal point for us. But this is Jim Hinckley’s America. And that means our job is to shine the spotlight on the entire country.
So, I will be speaking in Atlanta, Illinois and Pontiac, Illinois. We will be gathering materials for future and pending projects. And we will be sharing adventures through the heartland.
Today, I mapped out a rough route for the tour. There is still a bit of flexibility if we schedule other presentations or educational programs.
The special program that I am developing for the tour is entitled Dawn of A New Era. It is a fun filled, fast paced bit of time travel. It is a look at the dawning of the automotive industry and a period of exciting societal transformation.
Buffalo Bill Cody bought a Michigan roadster, learned to drive, and was board member for the National Old Trails Road. Geronimo, the fearless Apache warrior was photographed in a Cadillac. Gas stations replaced livery stables. Our lexicon was transformed with words like motel. Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield became the heores for a new generation.
This is the story behind story about Route 66. It is a tale of visionaries, eccentrics and ambitions. And it is a tale of intrigue, back room deals, and swashbuckling entrepreneurs.
Curious? Well, there is still time to book a presentation. And you can get a sneak peak by listening to Car Talk From The Main Street of America, a new audio podcast from Jim HInckley’s America.