The long shuttered Hotel Beale in Kingman, Arizona is linked to pioneering aviation history, and a number of Hollywood celebrities. Photo postcard Steve Rider collection.
He was possessed with an unbridled imagination. He was capable of visualizing amazing things, and then making them a reality. A means to balance high speed steam turbines and electric razors are two examples. Cruise control is another.
But, perhaps, the most amazing thing about Ralph Teetor wasn’t his ability to transform dreams into reality. It is that he did so while suffering from what many people would consider a debilitating handicap. As a child he had been injured in his fathers machine shop. Mr. Ralph Teetor was blind.
I stumbled on to Mr. Teetor’s story while researching stories for a monthly column entitled The Independent Thinker written during my tenure as associate editor for Cars and Parts. Even though the magazine has been defunct for more than a decade, I still recieve notes about the inspiration that inspired.
From a financial standpoint that column was not my most rewarding venture. But it remains one of the most satisfying things I have done in my career as a writer. And it has inspired everything I have done since my tenure at Cars & Parts.
Our tag line at Jim Hinckley’s America is telling people where to go, and sharing America’s story. Linked with that is my infatuation with people that inspire. People like Ralph Teetor, Eddie Stinson, and Andy Devine, the character actor whose childhood years were linked to the Hotel Beale in Kingman, Arizona.
In my presentations, books, articles, and podcast programs it is my intent to inspire road trips as well as dreams of innovation, and to wrap these in tales that share America’s story. That often leads to irritation when a publisher wants to cut material or when there are issues with social media accounts such as the locking of the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page.
Recently, working with program producer Stan Hustad, I began reviving the independent thinker series as an audio podcast, Car Talk From The Main Street of America that is sponsored in part by Visit Tucumcari. On the episode for Friday, January 13, 2023, I shared the story of aeronautical pioneer Eddie Stinson.
Edward Anderson Stinson was born on July 11, 1894 in Fort Payne, Alabama. He and his sister developed a fascination for airplanes at an early age. His sister Katherine was one of the nations first licensed pilots.
Eddie, while still a teenager, traveled to St. Louis and talked his way into a job as a test pilot for an aviation company. At the time his only experience with airplanes were books that he had read! During World War I he served as a flight instructor for the U.S. Army Air Corps, and a decade later he would launch Stinson Aircraft.
The dawn of a new year has filled me with eager anticipation. I am creating an extensive archive of inspirational stories for the podcast. And I am also working on a new series of programs for presentations. It is also my intent to dust off an idea from the pre COVID era. Stay tuned for details!
An accident as a child left Charles blind, yet he became a prolific inventor best remembered as the creator of cruise control. At age four Mary’s family moved deep into the north woods of Minnesota and built a log cabin by hand. She was a musical prodigy that wrote and recorded her first song while in kindergarten, graduated high school at age nine, and then launched a diverse musical career that was almost cut short by an auto accident that paralyzed her vocal chords. Another fellow named Charles was abandoned by his parents at age five. But he overcame diversity. He became the President of General Motors and was the founder of one of the most successful independent automobile manufacturers in the United States.
On Wake Up With Jim, our weekly interactive audio podcast, we are kicking off a new series. The focus will be stories of inspiration. Many of the stories are about people that transformed the auto industry, independent thinkers. But there will also be stories about musicians, immigrants, and people that refused to let prejudice, adversity, poverty or injury define them.
Yes, Route 66 will be intertwined with many of these stories. What rich and colorful American tapestry could be considered complete with inclusion of the highway that has been known as the Main Street of America for nearly a century?
For more than forty years I have been writing stories about the infancy of the American auto industry, Route 66, ghost towns, road trips and forgotten chapters of history. And, of course, these stories are also tales of fascinating and colorful people. Somewhere along the way I was bestowed with the moniker “America’s Storyteller.”
I am honored by that title but can think of people more deserving of the title. Acclaimed author and historian Michael Wallis comes to mind.
Over the years I have been the recipient of of some rather humbling accolades. Topping that list, at least to date, has to be the recent unveiling of my statue at Depot Plaza in Kingman, Arizona, my adopted home town. But the greatest honor has been in the friendships made, and the fascinating people such as Rhys and Sam Martin, Marian Pavel and Elmer Graves that I met along the way.
Since childhood I have enjoyed stories of inspirational people. And inspirational people have often been featured in the stories I tell. But with this serious I want to make these type of people the focal point.
If you know of someone with an interesting and inspirational story, espacially one linked to Route 66, I would like to hear from you. And as this podcast, and Coffee With Jim, the Sunday morning travel podcast, is interactive, please feel free to join in the conversation.
The Podbean based podcast is archived on our page. And both podcasts are now available on iHeart Radio, Amazin Music, Spotify, and Audible.