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British photographer to open Route 66 show October 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Events, Photographs, Road trips.
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If you’re a reader who lives in the United Kingdom (and my host reports there is a substantial number) and are itching to experience Route 66, an upcoming photography exhibition might whet your appetite even more.

Martin Smith, a British fine-arts photographer, will open a show Tuesday at the Hertford Theatre in Hertford, England, featuring images from his trip on Route 66 last year.

The show opens Oct. 21 and ends Nov. 15. Hertford less than an hour north of London.

More about the show:

Route 66 once epitomised the American dream. The route took in eight states and 2500 miles as it linked Chicago in the east to Los Angeles in the west. Christened the “Mother Road” it has legendary status in popular music and film.

As interstate highways became established the road fell into decay as the towns it linked were bypassed. But today the spirit of Route 66 lives on. The people and places encountered along the journey make this the greatest road trip of them all.

Through a series of captivating images photographed over ten years Martin Smith has documented Route 66 during several journeys covering its length and breadth. A series of these images depicting the road, its old diners, gas stations and restored neon signs will be shown in this exhibition in Hertford, 20 miles north of London.

Martin will be available at selected times to meet visitors and discuss the stories behind the exhibits.

Those selected times where the photographer will be around are from 6:45 pm to 9:15 p.m. Oct. 24 (before a Fairport Convention concert at the theater), from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 5 and from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 13.

The theater’s hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for performance days, when hours are extended to 7:45 p.m.

If you can’t make it to the show, you can see many of Smith’s Route 66 photographs here.

(Images courtesy of Martin Smith)

Stories sought about certain Albuquerque businesses October 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, History, Signs, Towns.
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Two authors are seeking stories about several long-gone businesses along Route 66 in Albuquerque that used Zeon Corporation-designed signs to attract customers, according to a story in the Albuquerque Journal.

University of New Mexico professors Ellen Babcock and Mark C. Childs are working on a book titled “The Zeon Files” that will be published UNM Press late next year.

Zeon Corp. also was known as Electrical Products of New Mexico, and drawings from that company will be included in the book.

The Journal reported:

“We have about 70 pieces of work that we’re finding the stories behind,” Babcock said. “This was an amazing time for sign productions and a lot of the businesses would up the ante with their eye-catching designs.” [...]

Babcock said that, in the early 1970s, the city moved in a different direction and changed the ordinance for sign heights.

“It kind of squashed the exuberance of it all,” she said. “But looking at the drawings, you can see all the hard work and detail that went into each sign.” [...]

“We’re hoping to draw the people out and get a conversation started about the signs,” she said. “It was an interesting time to drive down Central and see all of these signs. Now they are gone and we want to preserve the stories.”

Among the businesses the duo needs stories from are Star Florist, Roadrunner Coffee Shop, Bimbo’s Drive Inn, Paris Shoe Shop and Eddie’s Inferno Cocktail Lounge.

Several examples of the Zeon Corp.’s blueprints for the signs can be seen here.

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque also had a story:

Childs can be contacted through mchilds(at)unm(dot)edu and Babcock at ebabcock(at)unm(dot)edu.

(Excerpted Zeon Corp. drawing of Eddie’s Inferno Cocktail Lounge sign via Friends of the Orphan Signs)

Route 66 photo exhibit opens in Tulsa on Friday September 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Events, Photographs, Road trips.
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An exhibit by photographer Jessica Harvey, “Mother Road,” opens Friday at the Hardesty Arts Center in downtown Tulsa, with noted “Route 66: The Mother Road” author and Route 66 Alliance co-founder Michael Wallis speaking during the exhibition’s opening.

According to a news release from the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, Wallis mentored Harvey for her two-month solo journey on Route 66. “Mother Road” will be on display at the Hardesty Arts Center through Nov. 23. “Mother Road” also includes artifacts and stories.

More photos from the exhibit:

More about the event:

Mother Road is a project derived from the history and myths that come from traveling Route 66, which illustrates journeys – both personal and shared – through road trips, driving and discovery.  Harvey displays artifacts and photographs from her own Route 66 odyssey, and invites the public to explore her studio at AHHA where they may offer their own personal artifacts and record individual stories and memories.  This shared project aims to reveal how a diverse group of people collectively feel about travel, Americana, and the culture of the great American road trip. Harvey’s solo road trip along Route 66 began in early September and will conclude at the end of the month, when she returns to Tulsa.

Wallis’ remarks will be at 7 p.m. Friday. The opening reception runs from 6 to 9 p.m. that day.

Harvey also will host a slide show at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6.

You also can see many of Harvey’s images at her tumblr account.

On a related note, the Hardesty Arts Center and the Woody Guthrie Center are hosting the Mother Road Film Festival during October. Matinee films will be screened at the Woody Guthrie Center, 102 E. Mathew B. Brady St. Screenings are curated by artist Harvey and include:

  • “No More Road Trips” by Rick Prelinger, 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5. It will be narrarated by Wallis.
  • “Tulsa: Finding 66″ by Ed Taylor, 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. Panel discussion will follow with Ed Taylor and Tulsa Community College broadcast journalism students.

Screenings are free with admission to the Woody Guthrie Center.

(Images courtesy of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa)

Another Broadway building in Los Angeles revived September 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Preservation.
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The long-declining Schulte United Department Store building in Los Angeles’ downtown Broadway district has been extensively renovated and reopened as Broadway Arts Tower, reported L.A. Downtown News.

The Schulte building opened in 1928 at 529 S. Broadway as a department store with a huge cafeteria. Schulte United went bust four decades later, and the building saw a string of various tenants, but nothing on its upper floors.

This Google Street View image from June doesn’t show the building in its fully restored glory, but it was getting there:


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The news site details how it was revived:

The Schulte United building was acquired in July 2012 for about $3 million, according to Michael Treadway, property manager and financial officer for the building. He would not identify the buyer, who also purchased and rehabbed the nearby Spring Arts Tower.

Work started in late 2012 and was completed last month.

“The owner likes a challenge, and he saw the potential of turning this building into a mini version of the Spring Arts Tower,” Treadway said. Referring to the street-enhancing effort propelled by 14th District City Councilman José Huizar, he added, “It also made sense because of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative and everything happening in the neighborhood.”

The $2 million renovation included restoring the original facade, which had been covered, and its grand staircase inside. The Broadway Arts Tower website contains several photos of the renovations. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.

For years, Broadway in downtown L.A. served as the western terminus of Route 66 until it was extended to Santa Monica. That section of town is seeing a nice revival after many years of decline.

(Hat tip: Scott Piotrowski)

A visit to Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch September 1, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, People.
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A lot of videos have made their way on the Internet about Elmer Long and his unique Bottle Tree Ranch along Route 66 near Oro Grande, Calif.

But this one by KCET-TV, a community station in Los Angeles, is the best. The interview delves into Long’s background. And, much to my relief, Long says his sons will continue running the site after he dies.

But, if I had my way, I’d declare the Bottle Tree Ranch a national monument so people can enjoy it in perpetuity.

Long undoubtedly took some inspiration from Miles Mahan’s Half Acre, also known as Hulaville, which had a few bottle trees along with other quirky stuff in nearby Hesperia, California. Mahan’s Half Acre was bulldozed shortly after his death in 1997, although a few artifacts from there are on display at the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville.

(Image of Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch by Peer Lawther via Flickr)

Miniature created of 4 Women on the Route station August 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Gas stations.
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Willem Bor strikes again. The craftsman from the Netherlands, who has made miniature models of numerous Route 66 landmarks, created a new one of 4 Women on the Route 66 in Galena, Kansas, which now is known as Cars on the Route.

According to the Joplin Globe, the miniature was hand-delivered by fellow countryman and Route 66 aficionado Dries Bessels.

The model shows exactly how the attraction looked about two years ago, when the business was called 4 Women on the Route.

Located on the corner of Old Route 66 and Main Street, the former service station was transformed into a roadside diner and souvenir shop in 2007.

A yellow chair and a flower planter were placed in front of the red and white model building, and signs that were in the window also were added.

Melba Rigg, who manages the business, said she cried when she saw the model for the first time earlier this month in Kingman, Arizona, during the Route 66 International Festival.

KODE-TV also filed this report:

Bor’s blog also has a post and a photo from the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Arizona, when the miniature was presented to Rigg.

More of Bor’s creations can be seen here.

Cars on the Route was a former Kan-0-Tex gas station that was converted into a small cafe and souvenir shop. But it’s biggest claim to fame is it has a 1951 International boom truck that served as the inspiration to the Tow Mater character in the 2006 Disney-Pixar movie “Cars.”

Longtime Route 66 museum curator Wanda Queenan dies August 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Museums, People.
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Wanda Queenan, 91, longtime currator of the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma, and co-owner of the now-closed Queenan’s Indian Trading Post on Route 66 on the edge of town, has died, according to her daughter.

Kiesau-Lee Funeral Home in Clinton, Oklahoma, is in charge of arrangements. I’ll post more information about the funeral as soon as I get it.

Wanda and her husband, Reese, built Queenan’s Indian Trading Post on Route 66 on Elk City’s west side in 1948. According to Michael Wallis’ book about Oklahoma, “Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation”:

For many years the Queenans offered tourists a selection of Indian pottery, beadwork, jewelry, and rugs, and also sold supplies to Indians who lived in the region. Although her husband died in 1962, Wanda stayed on and kept the trading post open. But when the interstate came and the oil patch went sour, business at the trading post suffered. Wanda stopped buying and sold out her remaining stock.

“We didn’t get rich, but this trading post was something we really loved,” says Wanda. “It was great fun out her on Route 66.”

One of the survivors of the trading post — a 14-foot-tall kachina doll made of oil drums and scrap metal from a local Indian named Johnny Grayfish in 1962 and nicknamed Myrtle — was renovated and donated to the National Route 66 Museum in 1990, where it stands sentinel today.

 

Queenan became the museum’s curator about that time and was often seen greeting customers in the gift shop.

UPDATE: Funeral information. Worth reading, but here are some excerpts:

Funeral Services for Wanda Queenan, 91, Clinton resident will be held 10:00 Tuesday, August 26,2014 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latte-Day-Saints, officiated by Bishop Dan Turner. Burial will follow in the Elk City Cemetery under the direction of the Kiesau-Lee funeral Home. [...]

Wanda never seemed to think she accomplished that much. She is only an icon of the Mother Road, friend of historian Michael Wallis who has written many books and filmed documentaries of Rt. 66 which have included Wanda, She is the character of Lizzie in Cars. John Lasseter Pixar Director has consulted Wanda for her views and life story on the Mother Road; look at the end of the credits, you’ll see her name there! If you Google her, there’s her picture. Look at the museum grounds you will see the two giant totem poles Myrtle and Yatahey (aka Don’t Shoot Me, I’ll Marry your daughter) that once stood proudly on the grounds of the trading post. They were purchased by the city of Elk City when the Route 66 museum was coming to fruition. Myrtle is an international celebrity along with Wanda who has been interviewed by International and National organizations extensively. [...]

Quote from JACK starring Robin Williams-
I don’t have very much time these days so I’ll make it quick. Like my life. You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.

(Hat tip to Michael Wallis; photos courtesy of Guy Randall, K. Latham and 66Postcards.com)

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