Stuckey’s with their signature yellow signs and pecan logs. Hiway House in the southwest. Sambo’s. Howard Johnson’s. Travelodge. Van de Kamps restaurants with their signature windmills.
If you remember these roadside institutions chances are that you were driving, or riding in the back seat arguing with your sister, on the highways of America in the 1950s or 1960s. And chances are that they figure prominently in smile inducing childhood memories.
Today at the 7th annual Miles of Possibility Conference in Pontiac, Illinois, less than one block from Route 66, I was immersed in a flood of childhood memories, and memories of my time spent as a gear jammer on runs from Kingman, Arizona to Oklahoma City or Wichita, Kansas.
The conference opened with Stephanie Stuckey who gave a most interesting presentation about her namesake company. The story she told was a love letter to her grandfather that had launched the company and proved himself adept at adapting to changing times. It was also a study in how a company dies when it becomes a brand severed from the original vision.
And it was also a tale of inspiration as with heartfelt honesty Stuckey shared her passion to give the iconic company a new lease on life. In the process she is writing history stories for a future generation of entrepreneurs.
The conference is a scaled back version of the US Highway 66 Association conventions. As a bit of historic trivia, at the 1931 convention in Elk City, Oklahoma, an estimated 20,000 people attended an event that centered on the business of Route 66.
In a future blog post I will provide a summary of this year’s conference. And I will also provide information about the dates and location for the 2023 event.
Now, to wrap up today’s missive I would be remiss if a few reviews about restaurants and motels. These are based on stops made during the 2022 Jim Hinckley’s America Heartland Tour.
Reviews of all stops made during this tour will be added to our Tripadvisor page. Some will be added to the recommended locations section of this website.
My first review is a warning. If you stay at the Best Western Inn at 2326 N Arkansas Avenue in Russellville, Arkansas, I have two words of warning. First, check the room and bed thoroughly before checking in. Second, don’t just drop your room card. Ask for a receipt and check for large overcharges such as for long distance calls.
Now, a place that I can recommend. Baby Bull’s in Pontiac, Illinois offers a wide array of traditional diner food, and some with Greek or Italian twists. I have tried this restaurant for all three meals, eaten something different on each visit, and have yet to have a bad meal. Even better, most meal prices are less than $15.
Last but not least, don’t forget the contest that is an opportunity to win a copy of one of my latest books. Just catch a photo of the Jim Hinckley’s America sign during our fall tour and share it on social media with the hashtag #jimhinckleysamerica. It’s that simple.