jump to navigation

Stories sought about certain Albuquerque businesses October 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, History, Signs, Towns.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

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)

A semblance of the Route 66 Rendezvous October 18, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Towns, Vehicles.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Untitled

This video by AmericaJR.com at the recently completed Rendezvous Back to Route 66 car show at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino, California, is illuminating.

In short, this year’s event — presented by the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce — is an effort to keep a smaller version of the Route 66 Rendezvous alive. The original Rendezvous once drew more than 600,000 people on a typical weekend, but it was canceled after the 2012 show in the wake of the City of San Bernardino’s bankruptcy and the gutting of the San Bernardino Convention and Tourism Bureau.

One takeaway from the video is attendees are itching to take their classic cars back to San Bernardino’s streets — and Route 66. But chamber president Judi Penman made it pretty clear that’s not going to happen soon for a variety of reasons.

In the wake of the Rendezvous’ cancellation, the nearby city of Ontario, California, has hosted the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion. However, Ontario never was on Route 66, and the event sits a good distance away from the Mother Road. So appropriating the Route 66 name seems, at the least, disingenuous.

(Image from the 2012 Route 66 Rendezvous by Thom Trafford via Flickr)

Co-founder of Manhattan Transfer dies October 17, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, People.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Tim Hauser, a co-founder of the Manhattan Transfer jazz vocal quartet in 1969 and the only original member still with the group, died at age 72 this week, reported JazzTimes and other media outlets.

The cause of death was not disclosed, but a post through the group’s Facebook page confirmed his passing.

We spent more than 40 years together singing and making music, traveling the world, and sharing so many special moments throughout our lives… It’s incomprehensible to think of this world without him.
We join his loving wife, Barb, his beautiful children, his family, and the rest of the world in mourning the loss of our dear friend and partner in song.
Love,
Janis, Cheryl and Alan

For those of you with tickets to our upcoming shows, we will continue to tour as scheduled and continue to share Tim’s incredible legacy…

The group — influenced by doo-wop, swing, New Orleans R&B and 1960s girl-group harmonies — was signed to Atlantic Records in 1975. Their biggest hit was “Boy from New York City,” which reached the Top 10 of the pop charts in 1981.

The Manhattan Transfer won 10 Grammy Awards, including one for  Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group in 1982 for its version of Bobby Troup’s “Route 66.” The song remained a mainstay in their performances for decades. Here’s a performance of it from 2008:

The Manhattan Transfer was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.

JazzTimes included this background on Hauser:

Born in Troy, N.Y., Dec. 12, 1941, Hauser grew up in towns on the New Jersey shore, and began his singing career in Asbury Park at age 15 with a doo-wop group called the Criterions that once performed for the legendary disc jockey Alan Freed. In college Hauser sang with other vocal outfits, including one folk aggregation that included future hitmaker Jim Croce. Hauser served in the Air Force beginning in 1964 and took jobs in advertising upon his discharge, before starting the Manhattan Transfer in 1969.

The Asbury Park Press passed along the tale of the moment that changed Hauser’s life — a Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers show in Asbury Park in 1956. Lymon had asked for him directions to the dressing room; Hauser was able to oblige because he went to Boy Scout Jamborees at the venue. That led to this moment:

Hauser accompanied Lymon and the Teenagers to the dressing room where they rehearsed.

“They sang ‘I Promise to Remember’ a cappella and I was maybe 18 inches from them if not less sitting there — I could literally reach out and touch them,” Hauser said. “I swear that was my turning point. That was God’s way of saying, ‘Here’s your gig, son and if you don’t get it, it’s not my fault.’ “

(Image of Tim Hauser in 2012 by Federico Ugolini via Flickr)

Route 66 in Mojave may reopen by late November October 17, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Highways, Preservation, Weather.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Long sections of historic Route 66 that were closed in mid-September because of extensive flood damage may reopen by late November, reported The Press-Enterprise.

The newspaper had more details about the damage:

In some spots there are holes large enough to swallow one of the motorcycles belonging to tourist groups that regularly retrace the Western route.

Those travelers and others now have to detour off of Route 66 between Newberry Springs and Needles, taking I-40 instead. San Bernardino County officials estimate it will take $1.4 million to fix the damage. [...]

Brendon Biggs is deputy director of operations for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Works. He’s overseeing a workforce of 20 to 30 people making repairs to Route 66.

“Right now it’s high on the priority list,” Biggs said. “We want to get the road open.”
The flooding that hit the region was almost unprecedented, he said.

“We had multiple locations of severe damage,” he said. “We had approximately 40 bridges damaged in some way along with the road surface itself.”

The newspaper talked to several businesspeople in the desert who are suffering because travelers either can’t get to them or are deciding to bypass that area altogether on Interstate 40 between Needles, California, and Newberry Springs, California. That would include the small settlements of Essex, Amboy, Chambless, Cadiz, Goffs and Ludlow.

One Route 66 News reader recently took a few images of damaged roads and bridges in that area.

Biggs said even when Route 66 finally reopens, the county will have to eventually replace some bridges. He said the highway contains 127 timber bridges built in the 1930s, and replacing them will take longer because the improved structures will have to fit the road’s historic context. But when it finally happens, the road will wash out less often.

In the interim, many of those bridges will be limited to vehicles three tons or less in weight. That leaves out big RVs and tour buses — not an insignificant part of Route 66 tourism.

Amboy and its flagship business Roy’s still can be accessed from Interstate 40 through Kelbaker Road. You can check San Bernardino County’s progress in fixing the highway through this web page.

The part of the article that stings most is when the Press-Enterprise reporter talks to a clerk at the Desert Oasis gas station, just off Interstate 40 near Essex.

She said she recently had a conversation with a man from France who told her how much he and other Europeans revere the road.

“He said, ‘We don’t understand why you don’t take care of it,’” she said.

(Image of “Road Closed” sign by The Local People Photo Archive via Flickr)

A visit to Ollie’s Station October 16, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Railroad, Restaurants.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

DiscoverOklahoma, which is part of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, recently uploaded this video about Ollie’s Station restaurant on the southwest side of Tulsa.

As you might guess, the restaurant and its toy trains are a big hit with children. If you go there, don’t miss the big train set in the back of the restaurant. And the real thing runs on several sets of tracks just spitting distance away.

(Image of Ollie’s Station by dogsbylori via Flickr)

Aztec Hotel may reopen next year October 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.
Tags: ,
4 comments

The Aztec Hotel on old Route 66 in Monrovia, California, may reopen sometime in 2015, reported the Pasadena Star-News.

However, with the report about the historic building containing caveats — plus the owner’s problems in managing the property — one has to wonder whether the hotel will reopen at all next year.

Excerpts from the story:

A former manager who started the renovations by overhauling the hotel restaurant is now entangled in a lawsuit against the hotel’s Chinese owner, alleging discrimination and wrongful termination.

Also, a series of negotiations to lease the hotel’s empty retail spaces fell through, leaving a long-established barbershop as the sole tenant. In January, one new business moved in — a Route 66 memorabilia and gift shop — but it was gone in less than six months. [...]

Despite its troubles, the current hotel manager says plenty has gone on behind the scenes as preparation, and he is optimistic about what the Aztec could become — a boutique destination for Route 66 travelers, ghost hunters and anyone interested in the hotel’s inherent nostalgia and kitsch.

“The goal is to bring it back to the 20s and 30s design, but with modern amenities,” said Peter Kertenian, whose background includes managing Marriott hotels. [...]

The restaurant and the Aztec’s other retail spaces have attracted plenty of interested parties, but several potential business owners said they walked away because Chen kept changing his mind about terms, often seeking more money or repairs. [...]

The newest renovation plans are on track to be considered by Monrovia’s Historic Preservation Commission and Planning Commission this month or November, according to Planning Manager Craig Jimenez.

Other problems include transformers that are too old to handle air-conditioning in the hotel’s rooms. And the parking lot doesn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It seems the China-based owner, Qinhan Chen, has made an effort to have hotel renovated with its history in mind. But the myriad other problems that have popped up during his stewardship makes one wonder whether he has the ability to ultimately do it. At the least, roadies probably will need more patience before they book a room there.

Architect Robert B. Stacy-Judd designed the Mayan-inspired building, which was built in 1925 on what turned out to be an early alignment of Route 66. The hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. A fitful restoration of the building began in 2000, which continues to this day.

(Image of the Aztec Hotel by Dan Barrett via Flickr)

Former trooper tells about experiences in Mojave Desert October 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, People.
Tags:
5 comments

A former officer with the California Highway Patrol has published a book about his experiences during the 1940s in the Mojave Desert — much of it on Route 66 — in a memoir.

L.A. “Buzz” Banks has published “Policing the Mojave Desert,” mining his stories from the time the highway patrol assigned him to Victorville, California, as a traffic-control officer in 1941.

According to a news release Monday from the publisher, Lulu:

Banks joined the CHP at a time when officers were expected to be on their own – resources were limited, technical support was virtually nonexistent, and officers relied on their common sense and their own judgment.

This collection of 30 vignettes recounts memorable, true incidents from Banks’ early experiences as a CHP officer. He honed his writing skills writing accident reports, his diary and published magazine articles. Recognizing the value of his unique experiences, he set out to share them in this unique new book.

Encounters that emerge in “Policing the Old Mojave Desert,” introduce readers to a famous WWII general, an iconic test pilot, a deranged doctor, a bizarre German spy, a sharpshooting sheriff and a kind baker, to name a few.

The book is available as an e-book for Nook e-readers or apps for $2.99. The book also comes in a Kindle version. A paperback version ranges from $10 to $12.

%d bloggers like this: