Bumper Stickers. Barns. You Can Get Your Kicks on Route 66.
U.S. Route 66, established in 1926, originally ran 2,448 miles, from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.
Because of its role in providing a route out of the Dust Bowl of the Midwest in the 1930s to California, John Steinbeck, in his novel, “Grapes of Wrath,” called it “The Mother Road,” a name by which it is still known today.
In 1938, it became the first highway to be completely paved.
Missouri is the home of the first bumper sticker.
Leslie Dill, owner of Meramac Caverns in Missouri, offered to paint farmers’ barns in return for putting a notice about the caverns on the barn roof.
The road inspired the song, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66“, sung by Nat King Cole in 1946.
It provided the theme for the television show, Route 66, in the 1960s.
The road was removed from the U.S. Highway System in 1985, replaced by the Interstate Highway System, which bypassed most cities, providing only access ramps at intersections, not direct business frontage.
But, it has fans. Portions in Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona and California survive as Historic Route 66.
State Route 66 Associations are working to preserve it as a historical landmark.
One fan, who grew up in California and Colorado and took a family trip to Florida, spent four years taking photographs of the existing and no-longer driveable portions of the road, creating a cybermap of the original route.
The Illinois portion of the cybermap includes photos of vintage gas stations restored by the Illinois Route 66 Association.
Chicago has an annual Chicago Blues Festival in June, at Grant Park, on what used to be Route 66.
My brother is trying to drive on all the remaining portions of Route 66, much like hikers try to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
He reports there are many fans like him trying to recreate the romance and history of this Mother Road that opened up the country, connected rural towns, and became the iconic route out of misery into hope.
Are there any family trips from your childhood you remember fondly?
Have you ever traveled on Route 66?
Do you remember Nat King Cole’s song?
Did you watch the Route 66 tv show?
Monday through Wednesday we write about the way the world has changed since we raised our children so you can think about stories from your own childhood, or that of your children, to tell your grandchildren.
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We wrote a report on “How to Leap the Generation Gap: 58 Reasons Child-Rearing Is Different Today” (I was 58 when I became a grandmother 🙂
Click here if you want the report.
To you and fond memories of childhood road trips.
Carol Covin, “Granny-Guru”
- The John Steinbeck Encyclopedia of Road Trips (thedisplacednation.com)