(Archive - Week of June 21, 2004)
Historic Route 66, and
A Bit Of History Now Being Made
I prepared a story this week about Route 66, a fantastic part of American history. But before we get on the road of Route 66, I feel a need to report a few headines that have been in the news media during the last week. I refer to it as the "George W. Bush War" in Iraq.
It's a war he started and after more than a year and with more than 700 brave Americans dead and 4,000 wounded, this war is out of control and it is getting worse each day.
George W. Bush sent American troops in harm's way in Iraq - a country we had no reason to attack with ground personnel. Bush was not in danger during the Vietnam War and he performed questionable service in the National Guard stationed in Texas and Alabama when he was not AWOL.
Dick Cheney was asked by Sen. Levin why he didn't serve. Cheney replied, "I had other priorities at the time," to which the senator replied, "So did a lot of other men and women who didn't make it back."
"New Attack on Oil Pipeline in Iraq"
"Taliban Attacks Afghan Government Office"
"Saudis: Hostage's Slayers Die in Shootout"
"U.S. Missiles Kill 20 Fallujah Residents"
"No link between Iraq, al-Qaida, panel says"
" Home Surrounded in Saudi Militant Search"
"Bomb Near Baghdad Kills 2 Iraqi Soldiers"
"Chalabi: Iraq Could Execute Saddam"
Bush has stirred up a hornet's nest, and now we must be on guard from all parts of the world. I believe God would have told him not to invade this innocent country. It's just a matter of time until the big weapons will come into play - nuclear, poisonous gases, etc. To be honest, I doubt if God can stop this spreading killing, and I have only one solution; declare victory and get out. We did get chased out of Vietnam after 10 years and more than 58,289 Americans killed, and tens of thousand wounded - many for life. (Ford was president when our troops departed Vietnam.)
a.k.a. Main Street of America
Some things we use daily are not thought of often … how did we get it and when? While traveling from one location to another, and from one state to another state, we enjoy the Federal Interstate highways.
When and how did the first Interstate highway system begin? It was not long after President Dwight Eisenhower took office in 1953; he authorized the first funding of the interstate system. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1954 set aside $175 million for the project. Eisenhower was aware that much more money would be needed and he continued to press for additional funds. Two years later, the expanded Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 authorized a budget of $25 billion, of which the federal share would be 90 percent. What do we now have? The best highway system the world has ever known.
What highway did most of us travel over between the East and West coast before the Internet? If you are not a senior citizen you might not know the answer. It was known as Route 66 aka “ Main Street of America .” I traveled over Route 66 several times going from one coast to the other coast in the 1940s and early ‘50s.
In the 1920s Route 66 became part of Cyrus Stevens Avery's life. He lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and he reacted to the effort of local boosters to link the former Indian Territory with Chicago and Los Angeles . Avery, a highway commissioner, envisioned diverting traffic from Kansas City and Denver when he was asked by the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads to help develop a new system of Interstate highways. Avery spent most of 1925 working with an appointed committee to stitch together hundreds of existing roads into the new system. Avery wanted U.S. 60 for his “road to California ” but bowed to political pressure in accepting the “66” designation on Nov. 11, 1926 . The road was later promoted through Phillips 66 gasoline.
Route 66 became the state's single most "tourist” attraction. It was estimated that the state's Route 66 tourists could spend more than $40,000.000 and not much of it was spent on gas for the motor vehicles, since the price of a gallon of gas was less than 20 cents. The travelers could find anything they wanted on Route 66. Many years later, a TV series was made and titled Route 66. After the Federal Interstate highways came up-to-speed for faster and better traveling, Route 66 became history … almost.
I recently read a piece, written by Joanna Dodder, reporting that one of the last icons of Historic Route 66 is gone … died at age 88 on June 1. I will take the liberty to write in part of what Dodder said:
Juan Delgadillo, owner of the Route 66 landmark “Snow Cap drive-in.” He and his family built this watering hole drive-in with their own hands along Route 66 in Seligman , Arizona 51 years ago. Juan was born in Laredo , Texas , as his parents were driving the family from Mexico to Seligman.
Those early days were pretty wild in Seligman, Juan said during an interview this past July for the Snow Cap's 50 th anniversary. As cattlemen began to replace sheep herders, fights broke out between the longtime natural enemies. Juan also recalled the red-light district, slot machines and bootlegging. Then came Interstate 40 and it almost killed off Seligman and nearby Ash Fork and others along the stops of Route 66.
Travelers seeking the nostalgia of OLD Route 66 needed only to stop at the Snow Cap to get their fill. Sure, the Snow Cap has always served great hamburgers and shakes, but that's not really why people have returned time and time again for so many decades.
Juan brought so much joy to so many people, that serving food almost became a distant second. He had a full load of gags and tricks up both his sleeves. They were corny, but with Juan, they worked.
First-time customers would jump backwards as Juan appeared to be spraying mustard on their shirts, only to realize it was a string coming out of the bottle.
“Do you wanna look before you order, sir?” Juan would ask.
Customers would respond in the affirmative, only to have Juan hand them a fake candy bar with the words "Look” on the wrapper.
Customers would recover just long enough to ask in a slightly tentative way for napkins, at which time Juan would whip out a wad of them that appeared to be well-used already. Juan pulled these slaphappy tricks literally till the day he died.
Footnote: Marine vet Bobby Troup wrote the song "Route 66."
Contact Noah at:
* Noah's ARKives