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Book review: “The 66 Kid” September 8, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, History, Magazines, People.
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“The 66 Kid” is not your typical memoir. Then again, Bob Boze Bell isn’t a typical fellow.

Nearly all memoirs consist of a few hundred typewritten pages with a few dozen black-and-white photos crammed into the center.

But Boze, best-known as owner of True West magazine and as a western-themed artist, treats his early life story as a series of colorfully illustrated vignettes that don’t last more than a page or two.

As a result, “The 66 Kid” (192 pages, hardback, Voyageur Press) becomes a breezy, vivid and entertaining set of reminisces of growing up during an earlier era, mostly in the desert Southwest town of Kingman, Arizona.

Bell said he became motivated to tell his life story after suffering a near-fatal heart attack during a 2006 reunion of his high school rock ‘n’ roll band, The Exits. After his brush with death, one would expect Bell would get his early memories down on paper as quickly and have the memoir in bookstores within a year or two.

But Bell took his time, mostly because he apparently had a lot of painting to do. “The 66 Kid” is filled with dozens of Bell’s vivid artwork. If the pages don’t contain a painting, he uses old photographs or memorabilia from his collection. Voyageur Press books tend to be heavily illustrated (such as Jim Hinckley’s Route 66 books), so Bell’s more-artistic approach probably wasn’t a big stretch for the publisher. Still, “The 66 Kid” is unique for a memoir.

Bell also sprinkles helpful “History Detours” and “Legends of the Road” side stories throughout the volume, including “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66″ songwriter Bobby Troup, “On the Road” author Jack Kerouac and Life magazine photographer Andreas Feininger and his now-famous image of Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona.

Bell was the only child of an Arizona rancher’s daughter and a farm boy from Iowa. As a result, Bell and his family “ping-ponged” between the Midwest and Southwest to visit relatives or when his dad took on a new venture, mostly in gas stations. But Kingman exerts an inexorable pull at the Bell family — it was where the couple first met when his dad was stationed during World War II at Kingman Air Field, and they settled there for good when his dad became a mechanic and bought his first home.

“The 66 Kid” provides a snapshot of what Kingman was like from 1955 to 1965 — basically during the pre-Interstate 40 era. A detailed map lists the dozens of businesses along Route 66 then, many which now are gone. He also provides many stories from that time, including drag racer Billy Logas, “King of the Kingman Quartermile” and when a Hollywood film, “Edge of Eternity,” was shot there and at nearby Oatman Road, aka Route 66.

And Bell offers memories about the family’s regular road trips on the Mother Road to Iowa and back — including breakfast at the Copper Cart in Seligman, stops at the Longhorn Ranch Saloon and Museum, and an indelible memory of a ranch house in twilight in Del Norte, Colorado. Some of Bell’s recollections are candid, including his mother’s bigotry to blacks or Hispanics.

Bell probably gained his fascination of the Old West through osmosis. In addition to growing up in the middle of cowboy country, he discovered he was related to outlaws Blackjack Ketchum, John Wesley Hardin and Tap Duncan. He found out from his grandmother that Wyatt Earp, as she put it, “was the biggest jerk who ever walked the West.”

A seemingly minor but key moment in Bell’s life was when he bought a purported photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett at the Longhorn Ranch. Not long after that, Bell found out through a True West magazine report that the image was a fake. That became the spark eventually leading to Bell’s ownership of the magazine in 1999.

Very little of “The 66 Kid” delves into Bell’s adult career as an art director, cartoonist, radio broadcaster and True West owner. But it proves how the first 18 or so years of a person’s life can leave an indelible impact on the remaining 50 or 60.

“The 66 Kid” is highly recommended. In particular, baby boomers and natives of the Southwest likely will find it enjoyable.

66 The Mother Road online magazine goes on indefinite hiatus April 3, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Magazines.
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The November/December issue of 66 The Mother Road magazine apparently remains the last for quite a while.

The bimonthly online magazine, started by John and Judy Springs in April 2011, has halted publication. A reader of Route 66 News noticed a new issue hadn’t been published since Christmastime. He also noted the 66theMotherRoad.com website had gone dark, redirecting to a GoDaddy.com domain site instead.

66 The Mother Road’s Facebook page was still up, although no messages had been posted since November.

In a Facebook message, John Springs confirmed that 66 The Mother Road had “stopped” publication. He deferred most of the questions to Judy.

Asked about whether the magazine would eventually be revived, Judy Springs said she “didn’t know” but acknowledged she was “not leaning” towards doing that. She wrote:

I truly love the road, and I loved being able to help people. That was the very best part for me. But, I’ve had some health issues the last few months that have made me put the focus back on myself. Right now, I don’t have the energy or desire to add the magazine to my list of growing responsibilities. It was a labor of love, and I have always said that when it became just a “labor” it was time to shut it down. And, unfortunately, that finally happened.

That’s a shame. I’ll always remember 66 The Mother Road most for its terrific story in July 2011 about Annabelle Russell — one-half of the Mediocre Music Makers in Erick, Okla. — and her life-threatening battle with ovarian cancer.

Although the magazine’s website is kaput for now, all of 66 The Mother Road’s back issues can still be perused here.

Magazine features Route 66 in the desert March 16, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Magazines, People, Road trips.
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The Sun Runner, a magazine about the California desert, recently posted a long article about Route 66 from Victorville, Calif., to Kingman, Ariz.

Longtime roadie Jim Conkle is prominently mentioned in the piece. You can read it online here:

Tucumcari used for fashion photo spread by Marie Claire magazine February 20, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Fashion, Magazines, Motels, Photographs.
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In December, French fashion photographer Thierry Le Goues, model Katelyn Pascavis, and a large crew from Dodge Burn Foto descended on the Route 66 town of Tucumcari, N.M., and its landmark Blue Swallow Motel for several days for a photo shoot for Marie Claire magazine.

Le Goues and his crew shot all over Route 66 in the area. The Blue Swallow’s owners, Kevin and Nancy Mueller, recently received a copy of the photo spread, which will appear in the Spring / Summer issue of Marie Claire, on stands March 1.

You can see all 30 of the pages on the motel’s Facebook page, but here are the most Route 66-relevant images.

(Photos by Thierry Le Goués, courtesy of the Blue Swallow Motel)

Newest issue of “66 The Mother Road” November 11, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Magazines.
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Here’s the newest issue of the online magazine “66 The Mother Road.” This is the one with the Christmas painting of a scene over the Route 66 town of Cuba, Mo.

Open publication – Free publishing

Thanks to a relatively new plug-in, I’m able to embed Issuu publications, such as this one.

Take the high road into Arizona November 11, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Magazines, Motels, Restaurants, Towns.
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This episode of “Highroads with Dan Davis,” produced by AAA, delves into Route 66 in northern Arizona, including La Posada, the town of Winslow, and Joe & Aggie’s in Holbrook, and others.

AZPHXs3-003 ROUTE 66 for vimeo from AAA Highroads on Vimeo.

The video is about 27 minutes long, but interspersed with public-service announcements and advertisements from AAA.

Good cookin’ at Cookin’ from Scratch October 23, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Magazines, Restaurants.
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Watching this video made me mighty hungry. It’s a clip produced by Rural Missouri magazine about Cookin’ from Scratch, a restaurant off Route 66 in Doolittle, Mo. (Sometimes the restaurant is listed as being near Newburg, Mo.)

Rural Missouri is a statewide publication from the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Its YouTube channel contains other feature stories that might be worth your while.

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