A Survival Guide For The Modern Era
Evolution and the ability to adapt to changing times is crucial if a business is to survive. Photo courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

A Survival Guide For The Modern Era

There is an old adage that the two certainties in life are

death and taxes. There are, however, two more adages that you can bank on. One, times change, whether we like it or not. Two, it is up to you to create the survival guide for the modern era and to keep it updated. In short, adapt and learn to adapt or face the consequences. You can bet money that the best blacksmith in town had fallen on hard times by 1915 if he hadn’t added automobile repair to the services offered.

Fred Harvey Company Touring Coach 1918
By 1918 the Fred Harvey had adapted to changing times by adding touring coaches as a means to ensure hotel properties remained profitable. Courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

The Fred Harvey Company pioneered development of hotel and restaurant chains. They didn’t, however, rest on their laurels after dominating the railroad hotel business in the southwest. They developed tours, added buses, and began marketing to tourists traveling by automobile.

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As an author I have, with a degree of success, made the transition from typewriter and carbon paper to word processor. Marketing, a crucial skill for the writer that is going to transition from hobbyist, is another matter. There are indications that I have been somewhat successful in regards to shameless self promotion. As an example, yesterday I learned that Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town is going into a second printing even though the book was released this past April.

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The Thirty Hour Workday, Mayhem, and the 6th Earl of Cottenham

I have always had respect for people who can focus on a project

with such intensity that nothing distracts them from the task at hand. Obviously this trait is a prerequisite for people who work as bomb disposal specialist or as a sniper. I have never had interest in pursuing either career but the quest for a level of mental discipline that allows me to finish projects without enduring thirty hour work days resultant of succumbing to distraction is ongoing. This is not to say that my pursuit of the red ball is abandoned when I see a green ball, or that the smell of fresh baked pie will always lure me from the office to the kitchen if a deadline is looming.

Scheduling and allocation of time is definitely an Achilles heel. In this I am not alone but that provides little solace when my most recent language skills test indicates a 21% proficiency in German, a 1% increase over last summer, and the venerable old Dodge (aka Barney the Wonder Truck) is still sitting in the drive awaiting repair, just as it was last Christmas.

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The Speed Bump Theory Applied To Community Development

Every community is plagued by self serving factions, apathy, naysayers, and

people who simply never learned to play well with others. In communities where these people dominate government or the tourism office or media or civic organizations, opportunities are missed, long term sustainable progress is stifled, and vision for the future is conceived through extensive study of the rear view mirror. Spend an hour or two in a town, city, or village where these type of folks run the show, listen to the locals in the restaurants or taverns, check out the historic business district, cruise a few neighborhoods, peruse online reviews of businesses and there is a very good chance you won’t make a return visit.

 

So, exactly, how is a community transformed from a haven for the apathetic and people obsessed with protecting their fiefdom into a vibrant place where people want to visit, to open businesses, to raise families, and to retire? Let me introduce you to the speed bump theory of community development. (more…)

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Dusty Trails, Forgotten Rails, And An Old Road Signed With Two Sixes
The west portal of the historic Johnson Canyon railroad tunnel near Ash Fork, Arizona

Dusty Trails, Forgotten Rails, And An Old Road Signed With Two Sixes

This morning I have what is hoped to be an exciting post that will

encourage an Arizona adventure or two. First, however, I would like to thank the sponsors behind Jim Hinckley’s America, the multifaceted project that now includes a video series and Kingman, Arizona historic district walking tours developed in partnership with Promote Kingman, a Friday morning Facebook live program, the blog, a YouTube channel, photo gallery on Legends of America, and podcast. And, of course, there are the presentations and books, including a new release, Route 66: America’s Longest Small TownThe entire project is built around my gift for telling people where to go, and a desire to provide the information needed to make those adventures memorable and enjoyable.

So with that as the introduction, I would like to thank the folks at Grand Canyon Caverns, Promote Kingman, and the Route 66 Association of Kingman. Of course I would be quite remiss if I didn’t thank folks like you who through contributions to the Jim Hinckley’s America tip jar, as well as with comments, book purchases, and attendance at events make all of this possible.

The post office in Gold Road, Arizona on Route 66 courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts

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Every Second Counts

I am now within spitting distance of sixty. No matter how

hard I squint, fifty isn’t visible in the rear view mirror any longer. One lesson learned many, many years ago is that every second counts. Part two of that lesson is this – with the passing of each year, the awareness that every second counts increases exponentially. Linked with this is an old adage that the older one gets the faster time goes. I am not familiar with any empirical evidence that provides validity to this statement but can attest to the fact that the world flying past the windows is quite blurred as of late.

Yesterday, or so it seems, it was Monday. Between then and now there has been a few meals shared with friends, the recording of several new podcast episodes and the publication of one (Jim Hinckley’s America podcast), completion of the rough draft for another book and initiation of the writing of the first chapter for another one, a few meetings, a revamping of the blog format (did you notice that there is now a tip jar in the top menu bar and in the sidebar for those wanting to leave a little something for the storyteller?), and another Facebook live program.

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My dearest friend and I in the home of the late Willem Bor, and his charming wife Monique. Our first meal in the Netherlands was enjoyed in their home.

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Another Day, Another Adventure in Jim Hinckley’s America

A rare B-17 at the former Kingman Army Airfield, and an

early morning conversation with internationally acclaimed artist Gregg Arnold, photographer Herberta Schroeder of Wind Swept Images, and Michelle Drumheller who is organizing a family reunion for the family of pioneering rancher Tap Duncan, that is how my day started. In short, another day, another colorful adventure. This is Jim Hinckley’s America. If that seems like a plug, well, I suppose that it is.

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In retrospect it started simply enough. I wanted to write, to share the history of the American auto industry as well as tales of adventure on the road less traveled in the hope that it would inspire people to do a bit of exploring. After the publication of a few dozen feature articles for various magazines, I had an opportunity to write a book. That had been a dream since childhood and so I wrote a little book about the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company.

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That was followed by an interesting project that carried the odd title of The Big Book of Car Culture. In essence this was a Jerry Seinfeld type of project, a book about nothing. Jon Robinson and I wrote short stories about everything auto related from the history of highway striping and speedometers to Route 66 and Harley Davidson.  (more…)

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The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Nostalgia is often described as a wistful desire to return

to a former time, an era when things were simpler, better, less stressful, more fun (insert your descriptor here). The truth, however, is that regardless of the period of time you live in or where you live it is the best of times and the worst of times. Nostalgia is a great deal like vintage pictures, it is one dimensional, a moment in time taken out of context.

The cover photo, provided courtesy of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, illustrates this point. The Route 66 sign on the post provides a point of reference but what else can be discerned from the photo? From the perspective of nostalgia these appear to be simpler times. What isn’t seen in the photo is the White House Cafe to the right of the “grocerteria” where a sign read “Colored Entrance In Rear.”  (more…)

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Promoting The Main Street of America

Last year I was privileged by opportunities to speak

about Route 66 and that highways renaissance at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri, the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, at the Miles of Possibilities Conference in Bloomington-Normal, at a fund-raising event for the Route 66 Association of Kingman, at the first European Route 66 Festival, at a school in Bensheim, Germany, and at a Promote Kingman event where the new video series, Jim Hinckley’s America: A Trek Along Route 66  was introduced. This year I am narrowing the focus by developing a presentation that centers on the marketing of the Main Street of America in western Arizona over the course of the past century.

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An early view of the Hotel Beale courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts

The story of Route 66 promotion actually commences a decade or so before that highways certification on November 11, 1926. The short version of a long story, one that I will provide more detail on in my presentation, is how the National Old Trails Highway was rerouted across northern Arizona, a rather dramatic realignment from the original route from Springerville to Yuma where it connected with the Ocean-To-Ocean Highway.

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