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The rebirth of Tulsa’s 11th Street September 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Restaurants, Towns.
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KTUL-TV in Tulsa recently did this story about the “rebirth” of 11th Street in town, known as Tulsa’s Route 66.

KTUL.com – Tulsa, Oklahoma – News, Weather

We’ve dutifully reported about many of these businesses — including Ike’s Chili — moving to the more-prominent alignment of Route 66 in Tulsa. I was a bit saddened Ike’s moved from the older Route 66 alignment of Admiral Place, which has a few of its own charms. But if such a move provides greater assurance for the century-old Oklahoma landmark restaurant, I’m all for it.

And I suspect more businesses will follow to the 11th Street corridor. Lots of space is available, and the more tourists talk favorably of 11th Street, the more tourists eventually will follow.

(Image of decorative brick inlays along 11th Street in Tulsa by Don Thornhill via Flickr)

Plainfield considers new Route 66 signs September 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Signs, Towns.
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The village of Plainfield, Illinois, is considering new signage — including ones marking Route 66 (seen above) — as a rebranding effort for the town, reported The Herald-News.

The new designs would encourage commemoration of the “legacy” of the historic Route 66, which runs along Route 59 through the village. The Route 66 signs could be partially or fully funded by Illinois Department of Transportation grants. [...]

Bowan said the village’s goal is to find a way to reflect the village’s character.

“It’s just an old-fashioned community,” he said. “We’re trying to make the village look good.”

Plainfield’s downtown historic district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places about a year ago.

Plainfield had a 1940s and ’50s alignment of Route 66 on Main and Division streets through downtown. Plainfield also hosts a segment of the Lincoln Highway, which predates Route 66, in the downtown area.

Plainfield’s origins date to 1830 and is Will County’s oldest community. It is nicknamed “The Birthplace of Chicago” because the  early version of the Windy City depended on Plainfield for mail and supplies.

Albuquerque sign irks tourists, businesses September 5, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Signs, Towns.
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I missed this the last few times I was in downtown Albuquerque. But a sign on private property that says “Please, no puking, no pissing, no panhandling or perversion, thank you” continues to draw the ire of Route 66 tourists, businesses and city officials.

KOAT-TV in Albuquerque posted a story about the sign, which has been around since 2008:

That year, local Robert Martinez called it the opposite of a welcome sign for visitors to the Duke City.

“I meet a lot of out-of-staters and I get a lot of good comments about the downtown area, and how Albuquerque has really changed over the years. Then to have a sign like that up; I don’t know, it might change their attitude,” Martinez said.

Six years later, tourists passing through are still put off by the language.

“It’s tasteless, rude, crude and not in keeping with the spirit of Albuquerque!” said A. Kaye, who was taking pictures of Route 66 before heading off toward the Grand Canyon.

The KOAT link takes you to the video that shows the sign. If you can’t view the footage, I put a screen shot above.

The property owner erected the sign because he claimed he was having problems with the things it mentions. The city apparently can do little about the sign because it’s on private property and is protected by the First Amendment as free speech.

The television station wouldn’t reveal who the property owner is, except to say it was a parking company.

Those who have ever dealt with parking companies wouldn’t be surprised they’re tone-deaf on hospitality and tourism. If the perversions or puking or whatever is truly that bad, I suspect a “No Loitering” sign would accomplish the same thing with little offense.

Gallup’s anti-panhandling campaign comes under fire August 31, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Towns.
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The Navajo community is criticizing a campaign in Gallup, New Mexico, that discourages tourists — including those on Route 66 — from giving money to panhandlers, reported Indian Country Today.

In April, a coalition of city officials, church, business, and community groups rolled out the 90-day “Change In My Heart, Not In My Pocket”campaign to encourage people to “have compassion to say ‘No’ to panhandlers.” Giving money, the group’s press release states, enables substance abuse and harms the tourist economy. The group plans to step-up policing, educate businesses on trespassing and loitering laws, and increase donations to substance abuse treatment and homeless services.

That message sparked controversy. Many saw “panhandlers” as a misnomer for “Natives” and “Navajos” that didn’t address the city’s liquor economy, high rates of poverty, and economic dependence on Native business. [...]

At the first public meeting, Jeremy Yazzie, a Navajo student at UNM-Gallup, described the make-up of the campaign’s proponents: “It was an all white male group who wanted to push the [Native] panhandlers away from Gallup and make it more tourist-friendly and put a big red bow on Gallup.”

You can read more about the Gallup campaign here. Some excerpts from the news release:

Group member Bill Lee says, “Rather than giving a dollar randomly to people who will likely use it to worsen their condition, we are asking people to instead make a thoughtful contribution to something like the community food pantry. And when a panhandler asks me for money, I will simply tell them  ‘no’ and direct them to the charity I contribute to.” [...]

Group member Kevin Menapace says, “We need the whole community to be together on this. If we can collectively turn off the flow of money to panhandlers, everyone will benefit.” [...]

The campaign has other components as well, which include increased police enforcement, help from local veterans that have agreed to assist shoppers by being a “safe” presence, education to local businesses on loitering and trespass laws, as well as an initiative of extra hospitality and courtesy for tourists.

I understand what Gallup is trying to do, and I can attest to the panhandlers in the city — Indian and non-Indian, I should add — can get pushy.

But something about the campaign rubs me the wrong way. From my background, discouraging folks from giving a few coins or a dollar to a poor person seems profoundly un-Christian, or inhumane. And the notion that all panhandlers are going to use the money for booze or drugs is highly presumptive and simplistic.

And Yazzie’s criticism that the group apparently didn’t enlist Navajos before launching the campaign seems spot-on. If you seem to be targeting a specific group in an anti-panhandling effort, you’d better have a few members from that group to oversee it, at least.

Ultimately, the campaign smacks of coming from those who, to quote one of my favorite writers, “can not bear the agony of looking their country in the eye.” For centuries, the country called Native Americans savages, subhuman and slurs too vile to recount here. Its government embarked on a campaign of forced removals, forced assimilation and genocide against them. After the country came to its senses 300 years later and ended the abuse, it wonders why Native Americans suffer from poverty, suicide and substance abuse. And, yes, the parallels to African-Americans are not lost on me.

If people want to reject or help panhandlers, that’s fine — let it be an individual or case-by-case choice. But don’t roll out a campaign that targets a specific group without acknowledging and addressing the roots of the problems.

(Image of Gallup, New Mexico, by Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr)

Questions for Clint Eastwood and his Tucumcari time August 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Television, Towns.
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David Stevens, editor of the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune in New Mexico, in a column said he had a few questions for potential interview subjects about long-ago local issues. Stevens’ wish list had some urgency because all the people “are getting old,” he said.

One of those interview subjects would be actor Clint Eastwood, who spent time in the Route 66 town of Tucumcari, New Mexico,  to film the television show “Rawhide.”

  • I want to know about Tucumcari in 1959 when he lived there six weeks filming “Rawhide.”
  • I want to have lunch with him at Del’s and ask if the food was better then or now.
  • I want to know what he thought about Route 66 in those days, if he even had a thought about that historic highway we’d all like to revisit, complete with its neon lights and hotel rooms with garages attached.
  • I’d like to know if he remembers hearing about the 13-year-old Quay County boy walking into his parents’ bedroom that summer and shooting them with a deer rifle. Gordon Ellis’ father died a few days later.
  • And I want to know how actress Kipp Hamilton ended up hospitalized for two days after accidentally stabbing herself in the foot with a knife while filming.

According to a 2010 story in Route 66 News, Tucumcari was used as a base for five episodes of the TV western. According to an excerpt from a Quay County Sun article at the time:

Actors and technicians arrived in Tucumcari on Aug. 10, 1959, for six weeks of work, the Tucumcari Daily News reported.

The show’s stars included Eastwood, Eric Fleming and Sheb Wooley. Guest stars also popped in and out of town for brief appearances.

The paper reported scenes were filmed at three Quay County ranches. The cast and crew, about 65 in all, were seen regularly around town and became regular patrons at Del’s Restaurant.

Eastwood is 84 years old and has gained considerable acclaim — and Academy Awards — as a director in recent decades. His mother lived to 97, so perhaps her son isn’t at death’s door (in fact, he directed another film this spring). But Stevens’ point is made — the urgency for having these questions answered is clear.

Perhaps Eastwood or one of his assistants will read this and be happy to oblige at least two curious journalists.

(An image from “Rawhide” by Peter Renshaw via Flickr)

Los Angeles and Woody Guthrie August 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Music, Towns.
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Folk singer Woody Guthrie‘s many links to Route 66 have been long documented.

However, this excellent clip by filmmaker Aric Allen shows that Los Angeles played a crucial role in Guthrie’s road to fame in 1937.

Amazingly, many of the places where Guthrie hung around in L.A. still exist, as this film shows.

(Image of Woody Guthrie by James Ratcliffe via Flickr)

How did the Kingman Route 66 festival do? August 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Towns.
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The answer: Pretty well; thanks for asking.

The town of Kingman, Arizona, hosted the annual International Route 66 Festival for the first time last weekend. I’ve cobbled together some highlights from the event:

  • Estimated attendance, according to the Kingman Daily Miner newspaper, was 6,000, which was in line with forecasts.
  • About 60 percent of festival attendees were out-of-towners.
  • Businesses reported a sizable increase in sales over the weekend.
  • More than 1,000 went into Beale Celebrations downtown to check the work of Route 66 authors, artists, and collectors. A good roundup about it may be found here.
  • General chatter from other Route 66 and Kingman Internet groups was very positive for the festival.
  • Nearly 200 people attended the Route 66 Crossroads conference of speakers Friday and Saturday at Mohave County Administration Building. It also totaled 3,000 hits on YouTube’s live stream on Friday. The speeches are archived on YouTube here and here.
  • Hundreds were at Locomotive Park for concerts, including by the Route 66-themed Road Crew from Tennessee.
  • About 500 attended a sock hop and drive-in movie at the fairgrounds.
  • The Hilltop Motel in Kingman was honored by the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program for its preservation efforts.
  • The 2015 International Route 66 Festival will be hosted by Edwardsville, Illinois, in late October, coinciding with the city’s popular Halloween festivities. (Clarification: Route 66 Alliance co-founder Michael Wallis informs me the Edwardsville event hasn’t yet officially been named as a host, but the group soon will be negotiating with the city for that purpose.)
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