Route 66 Factoids


Route 66 Factoids

Natalie Bright 

Our group’s Route 66 Anthology is in the final stages of edits and formatting. I hope you enjoy our stories which are set in different time periods, but have one common location: the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock.

Here are a few Route 66 Factoids that might be of interest.

In February 1927, Cyrus Avery from Tulsa, created the US66 Highway Association and in an extensive marketing campaign the Route was tagged, “Main Street of America.”

A goal of the newly formed US66 Highway Association was to make Route 66 the first fully paved highway in the new U.S. highway system.

The First Annual International-Trans-Continental Foot Race was held to promote Route 66. Beginning in Los Angeles on March 4, 1928, runners followed the 2,500 mile route to Chicago, and then continued on to New York.

The winner of the grueling First Annual International-Trans-Continental Foot Race was 19-year-old Andy Payne, a Cherokee from Foyil, Oklahoma. The 2,500 mile race began March 4, 1928, with Payne crossing the finish line May 26, 1928 and claiming the grand prize of $25,000.

In 1939 John Steinbeck portrayed Route 66 as an escape for desperate people, a road of tragedy and sorrow, in his book THE GRAPES OF WRATH, and coined the phrase “mother road.”

Billboards, colorful magazine advertisements, newspaper articles, travel brochures, and picture postcards promoting businesses and landscapes urged people to vacation on America’s Main Street during the 1940s. The notion of traveling on the highway Route 66 became an adventure and quest.

 

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Promote You: Hit the Road, Find Inspiration, & Post a Picture


Promote You: Hit the Road, Find Inspiration, & Post a Picture

By Natalie Bright

Spent a Saturday morning with my Thursday night critique group researching historic Route 66, which runs through our area of the Texas Panhandle. We are working on an anthology of stories set on this iconic road.

I’ve been involved in this discussion before with a previous group of writers, and even have a 25,000 word story that never materialized into anything tangible. Sometimes you have to give a story everything you have, and then know when to move on. Maybe I can revive that someday, but in the meantime the topic of doing a group project came up again. We’ve talke about this before, and finally, we are actually to the DOING because Mr. Keel hit on a common theme that inspired us all:

Old Route 66

To set fire to our inspiration and story sparks, we planned a field trip to visit one of the most well known landmarks on Old Route 66 in our area. The U-Drop Inn is located just up the road in Shamrock. It was a great day and very inspiring. My character and her journey is definitely more clearer in my head. At some point in the story, she will make her way along Old Route 66 and stop at the U-Drop Inn diner.

Here’s the cool part; the spark from the my story came from my husband’s great-grandmother who was given to a man 31 years older then her when she was 21. Some of the family believe it was to pay off her own father’s gambling debt, others can’t say for certain. I’ve thought alot about this lady and how she must have felt. She was an interesting lady. She acquired a divorce in Washington D.C. and married a young man her own age, my husband’s great-grandfather. I have no idea if she ever traveled on Route 66 during her lifetime, but that’s where the character becomes fictional. Don’t dismiss those wonderful family stories as sparks.

Our characters  and their adventures are beginning to take shape. I am so excited about this anthology. The six stories in our new book will be in various genres and time periods, but they will all have at least one scene at the U Drop Inn. I’ll also be offering my novella as a stand alone title.

Promote You

Have you been on a research trip? Post pictures on your social media and create a little buzz about your upcoming story.

Are you looking for inspiration? Nothing like a road trip. Clear your head and just look, listen, smell, and touch. Don’t forget your pen and notebook.

More about Old Route 66

Built in 1936 at a cost of $23,000, the Tower Conoco and U-Drop Inn were featured in the 2006 Disney Pixar movie CARS.

Although the cafe does not serve food today, it is immaculately preserved. At the grand opening in April, 1936, it was considered “the swankiest of the swank eating places.” When Route 66 came through Shamrock in 1937, it was the only eating place for a hundred miles along the new roadway. Elvis ate in one of the corner booths. As an excellent example of Art Deco, the building features two flared towers with green glazed ceramic tile walls and neon light accents.

Route 66 was decommissioned in 1984 and Shamrock became one of the many towns bypassed by highway Interstate-40. Through several owners, name changes, and layers of paint, a son of one of the original owners purchased the dilapidated building in the 1980s and restored it back to the original colors and name.

Today, the U Drop Inn is owned by the city of Shamrock and houses the local tourist information center.

Wayward Words


Wayward Words

Natalie Bright

Many, many years ago during college, I spent time at a friend’s ranch. Their ranch foreman was an old cowboy that had a story or two to tell. A spark of an idea turned into a story about that man many more years later for a writing class assignment. I never thought about it again, but thank goodness I kept it in my class notes. It was just a simple writing exercise.

Fast forward another ten years, a callout popped up into my inbox asking for stories for a Christmas collection with a West Texas theme. That cowboy and his life immediately came to mind. I reworked it that very day, and within 30 minutes of my submission, I got confirmation back that it was accepted.

Hang on to every word you write. You never know where that story might find a home.

Books make great gifts! If you know of someone who enjoys stories and memories about Christmas’ past, this anthology of more than 30 heart-warming and humorous stories are all set in West Texas or by West Texas writers. It includes my story “A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessing”

West Texas Christmas Stories
Edited by Glenn Dromgoogle
Abilene Christian University Press
Available at Amazon and at www.acu.edu/campusoffices/acupress/