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Antique truck show will feature Campbell 66 Express March 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Events, History, Vehicles.
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The American Truck Historical Society’s National Convention in Springfield, Mo., not only will feature cruises and speech on Route 66, but a speaker about the town’s long-closed Campbell 66 Express trucking firm, according to news release from the society and its website.

The convention, scheduled for May 29-31 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, will include speaker J. Bruce Crim talking about “Campbell 66 Express — 60 Years on Route 66 with ‘Humpin’ to Please’” from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Crim was an employee at Campbell about 30 years until it closed in 1986, and he owns a large collection of its memorabilia.

Dave Faust, an employee there in the late 1970s, also owns an excellent collection he posted online, as does Jim Steele. And Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Ill., keeps a few Campbell 66 trailers on his property.

Because Campbell 66 Express’ headquarters was in Springfield, I suspect Crim’s presentation will attract a lot of interest. It’s good a few folks are keeping memories — including its trademark camel — of this unique trucking firm alive.

Tommy Pike, president of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, will talk about “Missouri 66″ from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. on those days.

The convention also will conduct a cruise of Route 66 from Springfield to Joplin, Mo., that includes tours of the Peterbilt truck facility, sellers and parts suppliers. It also will host an all-day “Mother Load to Mother Road Truck Cruise” on June 1 that goes on Route 66 from Springfield through Kansas and into Oklahoma.

Jerome Comcowich also will speak about “C.W. McCall’s “Convoy’, ‘Old Home Bread’ Commercials & Their Creator Bill Fries” from 9 to 10 a.m. those days. A history of Peterbilt trucks will be from 1 to 2 p.m.

You may register for the event online here.

(A 1960s image of a Campbell 66 Express truck by Allen via Flickr)

A chat with a Texola business owner March 22, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, People, Restaurants.
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KC Keefer, as part of his ongoing “Genuine Route 66 Life” series, talks to Masel Zimmerman of the Tumbleweeds Grill and Country Store in the Route 66 ghost town of Texola, Okla.

About a year ago, Zimmerman took a 1930s building, Water Hole #2, and converted it into a personal art gallery, plus a convenience store and restaurant. I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in the area.

More about Texola may be read here. At one point during the 1930s, it had more than 500 residents. Save for a tiny increase in 2000, the town’s population has been declining pretty much ever since. In the 2010 census, Texola counted 36 residents.

(Worm’s eye view of Route 66 in Texola, Okla., by Phil via Flickr)

Old-time photo studio opens across from Blue Swallow Motel March 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Photographs.
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An old-time-style photography studio has opened across the road from the landmark Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M.

The couple that opened those businesses also plan to eventually open a Route 66 wedding chapel in that space.

Here is one of the sets Mother Road Old Time Photos uses:

According to a story in the Tucumcari-based Quay County Sun:

Mother Road Old Time Photos opened its doors on Saturday, offering an opportunity to dress like a 19th Century cowboy or western lady, and pose for an old-time sepia-tone photo, carrying a period weapon of choice in a Wild West setting—the saloon or around the poker table.

The store will also offer holiday merchandise for the Christmas season, according to Rhys Williams, who owns the new shop with his wife Leigh.

Leigh Williams said by email that no firm date has been set for opening the wedding chapel, other than after the photo studio generates enough revenue to help pay for it.

People are welcome to supply their own minister and witnesses and we provide the venue. Once open we will have other add ons available,  such as bouquet,  photographer, motel/dinner packages. [...] The wedding chapel is still in the plan, but not yet ready to open.

Tucumcari would be ideal to set up a wedding chapel for many westbound Route 66 travelers. That’s especially true for same-sex couples from the neighboring states of Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma, where same-sex marriage isn’t yet legal and Tucumcari is the first sizable town in New Mexico along the corridor. New Mexico legalized gay marriage in December.

The point being: Why should Las Vegas have all the fun with elopements?

Southwest Missouri station puts Route 66 segments online March 18, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, History, Motels, People, Television, Vehicles.
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Years ago, KY3-TV reporter Ed Fillmer, a native of the Route 66 town of Marshfield, Mo., shot segments about Route 66 in Missouri.

Yesterday, the Springfield, Mo., station put those segments online. The video cannot be embedded, but I’ve provided direct links and descriptions of them.

Some of these videos date to the 1970s. I recommend you watch them; they’re not only well-done, but you’ll probably see a slice of history you haven’t seen before.

An interview with Glenn “Wrink” Wrinkle, longtime owner of Wrink’s Market in Lebanon, Mo. The market was celebrating its 50th anniversary during the segment in 2000. Wrinkle died a few years later, and the market is closed despite fitful attempts to keep it operating.

An interview with Thelma White, longtime co-operator of Whitehall Mercantile in Halltown, Mo. She co-founded the Route 66 Association of Missouri. White died in 2010.

A history of Route 66 State Park and the evacuated town of Times Beach, Mo. The Steiny’s Inn converted into a visitors center for the park is still there, but the bridge closed some years later, making it more difficult to use the rest of the park. The segment was shot in 1999.

A look at McDowell’s Garage in Strafford, Mo., which opened in 1924 and was still operating when the segment was shot. This looks like one of the 1970s segments.

A look at closed gas stations in the Missouri Ozarks, including one owner in Phillipsburg who had s a still-operating gravity-fed pump.

A look at old travel courts in the Ozarks, including the Abbylee Court and the still-operating Rest Haven Court.

A look at the “Route 66″ television show and Corvettes.

UPDATE 3/18/2014: The station added another segment — a 1990 interview with Harold and Pauline Armstrong, longtime owners of the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Mo. The Armstrongs died a few years ago, but Connie Echols bought the property and restored and improved it.

(A screen capture of Glenn Wrinkle from the Wrink’s Market segment.)

Where are the surviving Green Book businesses? March 17, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, History, Motels, Publications, Restaurants.
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A historian with the National Park Service is searching for surviving buildings once listed in the “Negro Motorist Green Book” travel directory from 1936 to 1964, and he’s asking for roadies’ help in finding them along Route 66.

The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for black drivers during the Jim Crow era. Publisher Victor Green said the book would “give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable.” A 1949 edition of the travel guide may be perused online here.

Frank Norris, historian for the NPS, says he’s tracked down businesses or buildings that housed them in the largest cities of Los Angeles, St. Louis and Chicago. He’s compiled a list — with addresses — of Negro-affiliated businesses in the smaller towns in seven of Route 66′s eight states (apparently there were no such businesses in 13 miles of the Mother Road in Kansas). The list in a Word document may be downloaded here.

Norris wrote:

I would greatly appreciate your help in driving to the street addresses where these businesses were located. (Some of the addresses, as you’ll see, are more exact than others.) Please find out IF there is still a business – or at least a fairly old standing building – at that address. If there is still a historical reminder (in any form) for this building, please take a photograph of it. Then send this information back to me. I am REALLY looking forward to hearing from you about this!

Norris may be emailed at [email protected] or calling 505-988-6005.

Giving the list a once-over, surviving buildings seem to be slim pickings. I suspect many are long gone because of redevelopment. Many in Tulsa, for example, were in the Greenwood District that was mostly razed during the “urban renewal” days of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Many of these Negro-sympathetic businesses also suffered, ironically, in the wake of desegregation. When black people on Route 66 finally could patronize whatever gas station, restaurant or motel they pleased after the Civil Rights Act, revenue for the Negro-sympathetic businesses plunged. And because those businesses served black people, a significant number of white people wouldn’t want to go there.

On a related note, “Route 66: The Mother Road” author Michael Wallis recently wrote a story for Oklahoma-based This Land Press about the Green Book, “The Other Mother Road,” that was posted online just a few days ago. Some choice excerpts:

As a boy, I saw the “No Colored” signs at gas stations on my Route 66 just as I did on the roads of the Deep South. I also saw signs in cafe windows declaring, “No dogs, No Bums, No Indians,” and only yards away a Native American craftsman sold his hand-fashioned art from the sidewalk. Black families traveling America’s byways packed their own food and often slept in their vehicles. They didn’t get their kicks on Route 66—or at least the kind of kicks I was getting as a youngster or a few years later as a hitchhiking Marine. At highway stops such as the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma, during the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and into the ‘60s, black travelers went to the backdoor to get their food to go. None of them walked inside. [...]

To many white, middle- and upper-class travelers, Route 66 symbolized the most positive aspects of American society—freedom, progress, and economic possibility. But to the minorities who encountered racism, prejudice, and exploitation along the road, Route 66 embodied a much darker version of American history. [...]

For many years, with Howard Johnson being the sole nationwide chain where blacks could eat and sleep, and Esso (later Exxon) being the only major fuel outlet actually offering franchises to blacks, the pickings were very slim. In 1955, for example, 3,500 white motels would allow dogs to stay in guest rooms, but less than 50 stated they would even consider housing any black travelers. During this same period, an Oklahoma motel operator reluctantly allowed a black family to stay at his motel for two days if they agreed to “pass” as Mexicans. There are several reports that in 1961 so many black tourists along Route 66 in Illinois were refused restaurant service that they took to bringing their own food and eating in their cars rather than chance being embarrassed. Undoubtedly, that accounts for why most editions of the Green Book listed nothing between Chicago and Springfield as well as nothing between Springfield and East St. Louis. There were also large gaps for Missouri, Texas, and New Mexico.

In the current age, Wallis decries the “American Owned” signs along the Mother Road, “signs erected by the small-minded and the mean-spirited, by those who wear their religion and their patriotism on their sleeve and on their bumper. Signs that serve no good purpose except to divide us and slap us in the face” because they primarily target Asian-American motel owners.

Wallis’ screed bears strong echos to the anti-discrimination speech he gave during Route 66 Magazine’s Roadie Gathering in Tucumcari, N.M., in 2002. The speech may be read here.

(Images of the Cactus Motel of Albuquerque and Will Rogers Motel of Santa Rosa, N.M., courtesy of 66Postcards.com. Both were listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book.)

Waynesville candy shop’s promotion leads to controversy and publicity March 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food.
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Today, the Route 66 Candy Shoppe in Waynesville, Mo., will give free fudge to any customer who weighs 300 pounds to mark Fat Tuesday.

KSPR-TV in Springfield, Mo., (video is at the link) reported it as a stunt — and reported a bit of a controversy:

The owners say it’s a fun, light hearted way to market themselves but some say it’s offensive and wrong to make fun of what they call an obesity epidemic.

“We are not trying to make a statement or offend anybody. We are just inviting them to come in and have a good laugh,” said candy shop owner Charley Dill.

“It may be a joke to them but to other viewers they can’t help it, some will die because of obesity, no one should ever make fun of it,” said Deb Czuprynski.

The story has been picked up by CNN.com, giving the business nationwide publicity. The Route 66 Candy Shoppe’s Facebook page says its number of “likes” has more than doubled in the past week.

The owners — including one, Charley Dill, who acknowledges he looks like hefty comedy actor Dom DeLuise — have stayed out of arguments over their campaign, except to thank media outlets that have reported the story.

And the candy shop says it is considering other stunts, such as free candy to pregnant women on Labor Day.

In a lot of ways, this is much like crazy stunts other Route 66 businesses have pulled over the decades. Do you think the Big Texan Steak Ranch would be as prominent today without its “Free 72-Oz. Steak” offer?

Well played, Route 66 Candy Shoppe. Well played.

UPDATE 3/5/2014: Fat Tuesday is over, but the story still is bouncing all over the Internet. The number of “likes” the shop has on Facebook has quadrupled (to more than 1,800), and several customers said the business was “packed” all day Tuesday. And Dill has been profusely thanking Debra Czuprynski, the woman who thought the stunt was in bad taste.

(Route 66 Candy Shoppe co-owner Charley Dill with a chocolate cheesecake truffle)

A chat with the operator of Texas Ivy Antiques March 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, People, Route 66 Associations.
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In his ongoing “Genuine Route 66 Life” video series, KC Keefer interviewed Dora Meroney, operator of Texas Ivy Antiques along the Sixth Street Historic District (aka Route 66) in Amarillo.

Not only does Meroney sell Route 66 memorabilia and other items in a converted 1920s house, but she serves as president of the Old Route 66 Association of Texas.

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