Linda Broday Remembers Route 66

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From the time the Pilgrims came to America we’ve been forging trails and roads to connect each other. And once colonies were established and thriving, there was a longing to head west to see what lay beyond the Appalachian Mountains. That quest for knowledge and adventure still beats in our hearts in this century as we explore the outer reaches of space–the new Western Frontier.

 

route-66-signOne of the greatest highways west was started in 1926. It would run from Chicago to Los Angeles, the first national highway system. Sections of it opened to traffic as the asphalt was laid, but the continuous highway was finally fully opened in 1938.

 

It was designated as Route 66.

 

Didn’t matter that is just a two lane road nine feet across. It was smooth and fast.

 

And there was no comparison between it and the government funded wagon road Edward Fitzgerald Beale built across the 35th parallel. Incidentally, that old rutted road became part of this new and improved highway.

 

route-66-sign-2Route 66 came to be affectionately called “The Mother Road.” Prior to the building of Route 66 roads were in very poor shape and only partially existent. Car owners had no where much to drive their cars. Roads were mostly dirt or gravel. But with Route 66 lives were changed; hopes and dreams were born anew. The road was well-traveled. During the days of the Depression it carried migrant workers who were looking for any kind of job they could find. And after the Depression came to an end, the tourist industry saw growth it had never seen before. Americans had money in their pockets again and fell in love with the automobile. They hit the open road in droves.

 

route-66-stationHundreds of mom-and-pop motor courts, eating places, and service stations sprang up all along Route 66 to cash in on the booming business. Fortunes were made…and lost.

 

In my childhood, I became well acquainted with Route 66. Every year in May our family loaded up the car and took off to California to visit my grandparents. I was so excited I could hardly wait for that time of year. There were so many neat things sitting on the roadside between New Mexico and California. I have many fond memories of those trips.

 

Remember the Burma Shave signs up and down the road? I loved reading them.

 

I’d save up my allowance all year so I’d have plenty to spend on our trip. We’d always stop at some of those Indian Trading posts that offered anything you could imagine. One of the things I always bought was a new pair of moccasins. I loved wearing those leather shoes. They were the most comfortable things on your feet. Like walking on a cloud. And I always saved some money so I could pay to see the animal exhibits and the snakes. Those trading posts always had plenty to look at and buy. Plus, it gave us a chance to get out of the car and stretch our legs. Sometimes I’d buy a bottle of Nehi Grape or Delaware Punch. Man, was that good on a scorching hot day!

 

One of my most favorite memories was when we stayed in the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona. Each room was inside an adobe structure that looked like an actual teepee. To a nine year old that was exciting stuff. I got to pretend that I was an Indian princess if only for a night. When I was looking for pictures to spiff up this blog, I Googled Holbrook and discovered that the Wigwam Motel has its own website now and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wow! Seems it’s as big a deal in this day and time as it was in the 60’s. I’m stunned. I figured it had fallen into ruin like most everything else in that era. Glad it hasn’t.

wigwam-motel-2

 

Another roadside attraction that we stopped to see was Meteor Crater near the town of Winslow in the north Arizona desert. Talk about an interesting thing to see. The huge crater was formed over 50,000 years ago when a meteor struck the earth. It sure makes you stop and think and wonder what would happen if another one that size plunged to earth. One thing for sure, it would leave lots of devastation.

meteor-crater

 

And of course, Route 66 passed by the Grand Canyon just a bit north of Williams, Arizona. That’s a must-see sight. No matter how many times we went by it, we’d always have to stop and stand on the rim, gawking at the beauty.

 

There wasn’t a museum, ghost town, or roadside attraction that we didn’t see. And it was all because of someone’s vision and the road that was called Route 66.

 

Now that old road has been replaced by modern divided highways that bypass towns altogether and something wonderful has been lost. Kids today rarely get a chance to get out of the car and if they do it’s at a McDonalds or other fast food place. I wish they could’ve known what it was like before life took off in the fast lane.

 

Did you and your family take road trips? Or maybe you still do. Did you ever have a chance to travel Route 66 when you were younger? Ever drink a Nehi Grape? We have lots to chat about.

www.LindaBroday.com

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
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30 thoughts on “Linda Broday Remembers Route 66”

  1. Cool blog, Linda. I live near a part of Rt 66 which is still a regular street. Our town is working on a new memorial and park at one section of Rt 66 where it crosses the Arkansas River. In Catoosa, the big blue whale lives on–last time I was out that way at least. It’s sad to see a part of our history die, but I have to say I love traveling on those speedy highways.

    I have had a Nehi Grape, although when I was a kid, I preferred root beer. 🙂

  2. Good Morning, Vickie!

    Happy St. Paddy’s Day! How neat that you live near an old part of Route 66. I look at how narrow that road was and wonder how on earth it was wide enough for two cars. I think it’s great that your town is planning a memorial. It’s indeed a piece of history that needs to be preserved.

    Have a wonderful day!

  3. My family never took vacations when I was young. Going to see my mom’s mom was an almost three hour drive and we could barely manage that once a year.
    All those kids, car sickness, hard to find a roadside stop for ‘nature calls.’
    Driving anywhere was a test of inner strength for my parents, I’m sure. 🙂

    When I was 16 we took our first vacation and I got to go. That was the last time though. After that I was too old or too busy, the younger kids did an annual trip with the family though.

    That trip was to The Black Hills in South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore.
    We live in northeast Nebraska near the Missouri River so we drove up straight north a long ways, then went from East to West all across S. Dak. This took us through the Badlands.
    Well, they are amazing. Almost Grand Canyon-esque. We’d drive along and stare, and stare and stare. The road curving around these deep cuts in the lands. At first it was magnificent but after about 100 miles of these rugged land I started to just think, “This poor state.”

  4. Besides Mt. Rushmore we went to Wall Drug and The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.
    Anyone been there?
    Wall Drug is famous for it’s multitude of road side signs, somewhat reminiscent of the Burma Shave signs.

  5. Happy St. Paddy’s Day everyone! Do you remember getting pinched if you didn’t wear green on this day? I’m wearing green today!

    Linda -We took a big 5 day trip when we moved from NY to California. It was an adventure for my sister and I and my dad who was great at storytelling, made it fun for us by enhancing and embellishing on stories about places we stayed. I sure do remember those Burma Shave signs. They were fun to read along the way. Life was so much simpler back then.

    Do you remember the TV show called Route 66? It really made the road even more famous.

    Loved your story in Give Me A Cowboy! You really created some great characters!

  6. Hi Mary!

    Wow, I’ve been to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills too! I loved that trip. And we stopped at Wall Drug too. Talk about a neat place. It’s huge! The Corn Palace was one of our stops also as well as the old Frontier Town. I think we saw everything South Dakota offers. LOL Like you said, that poor state doesn’t have an abundance of attractions. 🙂

  7. Hi Charlene!

    I’m glowing. Bless you for your kind words about my story in Give Me a Cowboy! I’m so glad you liked it. Those were really fun characters to write.

    Sounds like you had some neat memories from that five day road trip. Memories are what keep us warm and secure when the winds of life whip us about. Yes, I remember the TV show Route 66. I can’t recall the two actors names but, oh man, were they cute. I lusted after them, especially the dark-haired one. *big sigh*

    Thanks for making my day. 🙂

  8. Hi Abi!

    Thank you for stopping by. You don’t know what you’ve missed, girl. Nehi Grape was really good. Did you ever watch that TV show called “Mash”? One of the actors on there (Radar) always drank a Nehi Grape whenever the rest of the unit imbibed alcohol. Radar was a funny character.

  9. There’s a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in DeSmet, South Dakota that I’ve always wanted to see. I suspect it’s a long drive for not much but I love the Little House Books and that appealed to me. We used to go fishing at a lake in Minnesota when my children were young and on the interstate as we were zipping along going straight north was always a sign advertising the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum … 100 miles west.
    I just could never muster the guts to say, “Hey, let’s take a 200 mile detour.” Just couldn’t do it.

  10. Mary,

    We didn’t go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum either. I’d sure have liked to though. It is quite a bit out of the way and who knows if it’d been worth the extra gas. You’d just about have to talk to someone who’s been there beforehand.

    We went to South Dakota after “Dancing With Wolves” came out and they had a neat museum with lots of actual movie props and stuff. It was at that frontier town we stopped at.

  11. Mary. . .Wonderful blog. It brought back such great memories. My grandmother lived in California and every three years by folks packed us in the car — first from Michigan and then from Alabama — and off we would go on a three week road trip. I remember Route 66 well, and even the Wigwam mote. I begged to stay there myself but we seemed to hit it midday and my father was not prone to stopping in the middle of the day. I would really llke to take what’s left of it again. Thanks for the memories.

  12. Linda,

    When we returned home from Amarillo one year, we stopped at a gas station that really touted Route 66. I think a section of it still existed. Now I’m glad to know how the road all began!

    Mary, we went to DeSmet one year. If you loved the LHP books, you *have* to go there. We stayed in a bed and breakfast in DeSmet, then drove out to see the Ingalls place. We saw the trees that Laura wrote about, and we have pictures of our daughters in the little school house. It was a ver-ry memorable family trip.

    The first family road trip I can remember? We went to Wisconsin Dells. I’m amazed my parents could have afforded it–they must have saved for ages. We still love to watch the old home movies about it.

    I hear Wisconsin Dells is very different nowadays.

  13. We would take a trip every summer when I was young. We traveled to just about every state and it was quite an education. I still remember some of the stops we made.
    These days, we try to take weekend trips, but busy schedules sometimes prevent it. But, now that I’m all grown up, I’d love to revisit those places I saw as a child. It certainly would give me a different perspective.

  14. We didn’t take a lot of road trips when I was growing up.I do remember one time we went to the Smokey Mountains and I thought it was the grandest thing. We kept seeing this sign that said see Chain Rock so we decided to go see Chain Rock and we had to walk a long time to get there and it was just a big rock with a chain hanging from it. We were so disapointed. But I have drinked the grape drink you where talking about.

  15. Hi Linda! I loved your description of Route 66. I’ve never been on it, but I can now picture it through the eyes of a child. 🙂 We used to take lots of annual road trips, north of here (an 8 hour drive) to see an old great-uncle of mine, till he moved away. Those were wonderful trips, too. Thanks for the memories! Cars used to be bigger, so it was more comfortable, lol.

  16. Growing up our road trips were always to visit my Aunt and Uncle who lived in Denver and later Englewood, Colorado.

    In 1984 after our first daughter graduated, we loaded up our conversion van and drove from Wayne, Ne. to California. Besides our 2 daughters age 17 & 18 and our son age 11, we included my Mom and a niece who was 17. We had car trouble in Reno on the way out. We were not close to a motel and had so much stuff in the van that we spent the night at a Shell station. All of us sleeping in the van. My sister lived in Davis, Ca. so we stayed with her a few days and then went to Disneyland. No part of the trip included R66, but we all have a lot of memories of that trip.

    At one time, leaving Omaha, I missed a turn somewhere and ended up on a portion of the old Lincoln Hiway. It was still brick and had really become uneven and rough.

  17. Hi Pat,

    I’m glad I could help you relive some old memories. Wow, I can’t believe you were attracted to the WigWam Motel too! That’s pretty neat. My dad didn’t stop in the middle of the day either. In fact, we usually began our road trips about 4 in the morning and wouldn’t stop for the night until long after dark. He barely would stop long enough to gas up and let us go to the bathroom. 🙂

  18. Hi Pam,

    I’m glad to hear that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum is something to see. I’m sorry I missed it when I was up that way. Maybe I’ll have to take another road trip. LOL Just an excuse.

    Sounds like you had some fun times on your road trips and I see you’re familiar with Route 66. Yes, there is still an old section of the original highway in Amarillo. I think all of those old sections should be preserved. Route 66 was quite an experience. Created lots of memories for people.

  19. Hi LuAnn,

    It’s lots of fun to take off on a road trip and just relax. Our lives are way too hectic these days. We don’t take enough time to do the things we truly enjoy. Yes, it’s neat to go back and revisit places we remember from our childhood. Memories are the most wonderful things.

  20. My family took road trips, but only around the state we live in.
    I have drank gallons of Nehi grape and orange.

  21. Hi Quilt Lady,

    I agree that sometimes the things we think we most want to see wind up a big disappointment. I felt that way about Billy the Kid’s hideout in New Mexico. There was nothing there except some rocks. But other times we get more than we anticipated. I guess we just have to take a chance and hope for the best. Life’s all about chances. Hop you have a great day!

  22. Hi Kate,

    I imagine there are lots of neat places to see up there where you live. I’ve often wanted to go to Canada. Just never got the chance. I’m glad my blog brought back some warm memories for you. I think anytime a family spends time together there’s just going to be tons of memories.

    Yes, those old cars had oodles of room. My youngest sister and I always had the backseat and we’d make us a bed and sleep when we got tired. I can’t imagine doing that in the cars today. 🙂

  23. Hi Sue,

    Colorado is so gorgeous and they have so many things to see and do. That’s neat. And I’m glad you have fond memories of your trip to California. When you spoke about having to sleep in your van it reminded me of how often my family would sleep beside the road–some in car and some on the ground. This was in the 50’s and 60’s. A person sure couldn’t do that now. Hope your day is going well.

  24. Hi Estella,

    Thanks for stopping by. That neat that you were a Nehi Grape and Orange lover! When I tell younger people about that today they look at me like I’m crazy. They have no idea how much of a treat that was to us when we were kids.

    Enjoy your trips around your home state. There’s always adventure waiting for you around the next corner.

  25. Our “road trips” were most often “Sunday afternoon
    drives” onto the highways and byways around our
    city. After lunch on Sunday, we would all pile into
    the station wagon and head out. None of the trips
    were much longer than three hours and we made the
    acquaintance of many of the little towns around
    Houston. BTW, my favorite drink of that time was
    Orange Crush.

    Pat Cochran

  26. Hi Linda, I am soooo late getting here today. We traveled much of the Route through AZ a few years ago. Oatman AZ was the dearest Route 66 town, a real preserved Wild West mining town. The donkeys descended from the miners’ original critters have free reign all over town. It was adorable, all the cars and motor homes stopping to let them browse right in the middle of the street, feeding them carrots etc.

    Great post!!

    oxoxox

  27. hello Linda!

    I have never had the good fortune of traveling Route 66! Sure sounds like you had an adventerous childhood along that highway! I would dearly love to travel out west someday and see the stuff you have listed here!

    Nehi Grape–mmmmm, delicious on a hot day–especially over some crushed ice!

    Hope all is well with you!

  28. Nehi Grape and Orange Crush,good memories. Took only one trip as a kid – to the St.Lawrence Seaway when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip came for the dedication. It was only a couple hours from our home. I’ve since made up for it. My husband and I travel as much as we can. In 2001, we put 6,000 miles on our car in 3 weeks. We have a bad habit of driving all over the place. We’ve touched on Route 66, but haven’t traveled much of it. At times it is necessary to get someplace in a hurry and the interstates are great for that. We usually get fed up with the traffic, jump off the interstate, and take side roads. On one trip to Omaha, Nebraska, I couldn’t face I-80 again. Told my husband to take the next exit and turn right. We ended up in Canada. Found a great art museum in the middle of nowhere on the way back south to Omaha. We have found the most wonderful places. We travel to see the country and what it has to offer. Getting there is as important and the destination – actually, it’s part of it.

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