Sales never met expectations. But in the era of renaissance on Route 66, the reprint of the little guide published by Jack Rittenhouse in 1946 is a treasure for legions of passionate U.S. 66 adventurers.
In A Guide Book To Highway 66, Rittenhouse noted, “For eastbound cars which cannot make the Gold Hill grade, a filling station in Goldroad offers a tow truck which will haul your car to the summit. At last inquiry their charge was $3.50, but may be higher. Cars with trailers may need this service.”
More often than not, the tow truck driver alluded to in the guide was Roy Dunton. In 1946, Roy was a young man that had recently returned home after serving a stint in the Navy during WWII. He simply slipped back into his prewar life.
While still in his teens in the late 1930s, Roy’s uncle, N.R. Dunton had helped him relocate from Spokane, Washington, and had given him a job at the garage. Driving the tow truck was just one of his jobs as N.R. also had the garbage and school bus contract in Goldroad. He also rented and sold mining equipment, repaired cars, sold auto parts, and had a very busy gas station.
Roy and N.R. were kept quite busy as the flow of traffic over this steep, twisted section of Route 66 in the Black Mountains of western Arizona had reached epic proportions by the late 1930s. At the end of 1939 the state highway department reported that for that calendar yer, more than one million vehicles had entered Arizona on Route 66.
On a warm spring day when Scott, Roy’s son, and I drove to Oatman with Roy, stories were shared about life in Goldroad and working on Route 66 in those pre war years. Over lunch and a cold beer at the Oatman Hotel, Roy, then about 90 years old, talked of flirting with the daughter of the owners of Snell’s Summit Station, of pumping gas at Cool Springs, about towing vehicles to the summit, and of an accident at the garage that almost ended his life.
In western Ariizona the Dunton family has played a big part in the Route 66 story since that road was the National Old Trails Road. And for more than thirty years that family has been an integral part of my work to promote Route 66, and to assist ongoing efforts to revitalize the historic heart of Kingman, Arizona, my adopted hometown.
For reasons unknown, Roy took a shine to me. And I let him drag me into some interesting political adventures. I served as the committee man for the Republican Party in my district, wrote press releases for events such as the annual party picnic. I also met some fascinating people such as Senator John McCain.
The unexpected death of Scott Dunton about ten days ago was the end of era for Kingman, for Route 66, and for me personally. Scott and I began working on projects to utilize the growing interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for historic district revitalization back in about 1992. That was shortly after he and his father had purchased the venerable old Kimo Cafe that dated to 1940, and initiated its transformation into Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. As a bit of FYI, the “D’ in the name is for Dunton.
In 1994, Scott and I launched the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona. Fueled with a passion for the endeavor we hit the ground running. But as so often happens, life got in the way and the association went into a holding pattern for a few years.
But shortly after the turn of the century, Scott and I began working together in earnest. I had resigned from the associations board of directors, but this didn’t prevent Scott from using the association to help me promote Kingman, and Route 66.
We served on a few city commissions’ together. Scott was opiniated to a fault. But there was never any doubt where Scott stood. He was also generous, passionate about his hometown, Kingman, and unreservedly dedicated to his family.
I was as stubborn as Missouri mule. My weakness was the oppposite of Scott’s. I was obsessesed with diplomacy, even when it wasn’t warranted or was was detrimental to a project. So, we butted heads a bit here and there but with the passing of time we learned how to work together. Our strengths and weaknesses provided balance. The association, Scott, and I became a team.
Scott or the association often covered a portion of my travel expenses when we took Jim HInckley’s America on the road promoting Kingman and Route 66. Scott provided an office at the historic Dunton Motors dealership that I could use as a studio for live programs, or to meet with media for interviews.
The associations monthly meet and greet held at different businesses became a venue for networking, for building a sense of community, for developing a diverse array of cooperative partnerships, and for creating an awareness about Route 66 and how the interest in that road could be a transformative force in Kingman. Working with local clubs and the organizers of Chillin’ on Beale, the meet and greet was often transformed into a reception for visiting groups such as Route 66 Germany.
Neon sign acquisition and restoration, grafitti clean up, public arts projects such as the murals on the water tanks along Route 66 and the Running Hare scultpure created by Don Gianella are all manifestations of Scott’s commitment to the city of Kingman. Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, Dunton Motors Dream Machines, and the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona are also manifestations of his passion for Route 66, and his desire to ensure travelers had memorable stops in Kingman.
Scott’s passing is truly the end of an era.