Robert and I took the kids on a jaunt down a portion of the Mother Road, Route 66, earlier this week. It was a quick trip through Amarillo, final destination: Tucumcari, New Mexico. I’ll be sharing my photos in a several upcoming posts. There’s just too much Route 66 awesomeness for just one post — starting with these terrific chrome goddess hood ornaments!
For those of you who may not know, Route 66 is one of the original U.S. highways and probably the most famous “road” in all of America. It’s even referred to as the Main Street of America.
Damn Okies and The Dust Bowl
Route 66 holds special significance to Oklahoma because during the tragic and devastating Dust Bowl of the 1930s thousands of Oklahomans migrated west via Route 66. That event has strong association with the term “Okie” as pejorative. The term was often used by Californians to express contempt for the poor immigrants from Oklahoma who converged upon Golden State’s Central Valley.
I’ve always thought one of the biggest contributions my friend Louisa made to the state during her long tenure as editor of the venerable state magazine, Oklahoma Today, was making the term “Okie” cool. She stirred affection for it among older and younger generations of Oklahomans alike through numerous articles, headlines and references over the years. Granted, this may be a ruthless plug for a dear friend, but who can blame me? It ain’t just anybody who takes a pejorative and makes it cool. More on that another time.
Longest Stretch of Route 66
From Illinois to California, Oklahoma has the longest, continuous stretch of Route 66. There are many great stops along the way including museums and motels. Most Oklahomans, however, take all of this for granted. It’s the classic failure to appreciate that which one has in great abundance.
I took many trips down Route 66 as a kid. My dad’s love for the old highway was matched only by his loathing of Interstate 40. The new highway made him sad as it led to the demise of Roadside America, something he really loved. His insistence that we take Route 66 instead of I-40 on the many trips we made between California and Kansas, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma could really annoy the family. Now, I’m really glad he subjected all of us to those extra few hours on the road in the dead of summer in a long Cadillac with compromised air conditioning. I didn’t die, and I like to think I’m better for it.
Tucum and Cari
Turns out, we passed through Tucumcari many times on these journeys, but I could not readily recall any specific memories until this most recent trip. I now recall visiting the Teepee-shaped curiosity shop with my father. I’ll be posting pictures of it tomorrow in a post about how Tucumcari and towns like it helped inspire the movie, Cars!
Have you ever taken a trip down Route 66? Did you have a favorite stop along the way?