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Fontana’s Route 66 motels cling to survival July 31, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.
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Route 66 through Fontana, Calif., has one of the biggest clusters of vintage motels in Southern California. According to an article Sunday by the Press Enterprise, about a dozen independently owned motels still stand along a stretch of Foothill Boulevard.

“There are your cities along 66 that have motels left, but I don’t think anything compares to Fontana,” said Scott Piotrowski, a preservationist who runs a production company devoted to documenting historic roads in America through film, books, and photography. “They’re fortunate that they haven’t had a lot demolished.”

Fontana city leaders hope to rebuild their long neglected portions of 66, but the area with the oldest motels sits on unincorporated county land with no redevelopment plans in sight.

Most of these motels are scraping by, and it’s doubtful many of them will survive in the coming years, even with no redevelopment imminent. But the story offers a ray of hope for at least one establishment.

Under the management of Maggie Marin, La Villa has tried hard to make itself a place unwelcome to seedy characters. The bright red-and-blue rooms recently got a paint job, and flowers grow in the dirt outside the main office.

Which town truly earns the “Redneck” title? July 30, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Music, People, Television.
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Harley Russell, during the course of his entertaining and sometimes eccentric Mediocre Music Makers shows with wife Annabelle, will tell his audience, “Welcome to Erick, Oklahoma, the Redneck Capital of the World.”

But the Oklahoman newspaper, in a lighthearted article, reports that East Dublin, Ga., was bestowed the “redneck capital” title by the “Jeopardy” game show. Looking over this Web site and this one, that is tough evidence to refute.

The Oklahoman says:

Conclusion: The Russells have done their best to make Erick synonymous with rednecks, but East Dublin’s games edge Oklahoma out. Besides, it’s hard to argue with Alex Trebek.

Erick is not the redneck capital of the world.

Oh, well. The mistake was that the Oklahoman took Harley seriously, when Harley himself doesn’t. :)

Joplin makes a case for Mickey Mantle Museum July 30, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, People, Sports.
3 comments

Perhaps growing impatient at the slow progress of a Mickey Mantle Museum in his Route 66 hometown of Commerce, Oka., Joplin Globe guest columnist Scott Haar makes a pitch for putting the Mick museum in nearby Joplin, Mo., instead.

I’m not persuaded by Maar’s argument. I’d rather have the museum in Mantle’s actual home state than a neighboring one. Mantle is the greatest baseball player Oklahoma has ever produced, and that’s not small praise when you consider the Sooner State also boasts Johnny Bench, Willie Stargell, and Paul and Lloyd Waner — all of them Hall-of-Famers. I once did a listing of baseball players by state, and Oklahoma’s would be as good as any.

The Mantle museum also would be greatly beneficial to the struggling town of Commerce. Joplin is a thriving community and will be for the foreseeable future. Commerce needs the museum more.

Videos spotlight southwest Missouri and Kansas July 30, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Maps, Television, Web sites.
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The good folks at Route 66 TV Online tell us about two 25-minute films about Route 66 in southwest Missouri and Kansas filmed by Passport America, which is a site geared to RV users.

If you don’t mind sitting through the obligatory RV plugs, the videos are pretty good. They contain stories about the Joplin Museum Complex, Bonnie & Clyde’s hideout in Joplin, the Solar Car Challenge, Precious Moments Chapel, Eisler Bros. Store, the Riverton Arch Bridge and more. You can watch the videos here.

I should add that Route 66 TV Online has an excellent map of Route 66 through the Joplin area. Driving through this region can be confusing, so this map is welcome.

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