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Triangle Motel progress report November 26, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.
1 comment so far

I received a progress report a few days ago from Marianne McNeil Logan, secretary for the effort to restore the formerly long-neglected Triangle Motel on Route 66 in east Amarillo, Texas.

The motel has received its Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program cost-share grant and underwent an engineer’s inspection. Logan wrote:

Two contractors’ bids are now at NPS for the 106 Section Review, or the SHPO [state historical preservation office]. This is NPS’s second priority. At its completion, the contractor selected will approach the City of Amarillo for permits to enclose the motel, and the construction can begin on the restoration of this historical motel–one of the last, and definitely one of the finest with its gracious art moderne design with antique charm … Kaisa assured us that “We should have the go-ahead from SHPO no later than mid January (assuming that the SHPO has no problems with the Dura-Last roofing material). The chosen contractor can get started on the roof after SHPO gives their clearances.” […]

If you know of individuals who might be interested in helping financially, or deadlines where we could submit applications for grants that would help on the restoration of the Triangle Motel, please contact me. Thank you for your consideration, time and patience.

The Triangle’s Web site is here.

Sultry 66 November 26, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Uncategorized.
4 comments

Here’s a stripped-down and sultry version of “Route 66″ by Charlese, a singer based in Liverpool, England.

“Rhythms of the Road” trailer November 26, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips, Television.
1 comment so far

Greene HD Productions has just completed a 12-minute trailer of the “Rhythms of the Road” television music series that’s set to air this spring.

Go here to watch it. You’ll see a lot of Route 66 landmarks, including the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas; the Big Texan Steak Ranch of Amarillo; the Munger Moss Motel of Lebanon, Mo.; Ted Drewes Frozen Custard of St. Louis; the Coleman Theatre Beautiful of Miami, Okla.; the Midpoint Cafe of Adrian, Texas; and a lot more.

Art in an unexpected place November 25, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Music, People.
2 comments

What’s great about Route 66 is you sometimes find the unexpected.

On Monday, I found it in downtown Commerce, Okla. (population 2,500), talking to a man who creates portraits of rock ‘n’ roll stars and other artwork. He exhibits and sells these pieces all over the United States.

Bill Foss’ studio is right on Route 66, a few doors down from the historic Star Cash Grocery and a few feet from Allen’s Fillin’ Station and the historic Dairy King.

Bill Foss and his paintings of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Salvadore Dali (with a 3-D moustache).

Bill Foss and his paintings of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Salvador Dali (with a 3-D moustache).

Bill Foss grew up in Commerce, went to art school in New Mexico and lived for years in Arizona. He came back to his hometown to help care for his aging parents.

Foss is also a working musician; he had about a dozen electric guitars lined up around his studio. But it was his paintings that mostly caught the eye. Some of his works sell for up to tens of thousands of dollars, but he also has smaller pieces and prints for the budget-minded.

Bill Foss paintings of Frank Zappa and Heart.

Bill Foss paintings of Frank Zappa and Heart.

A Bill Foss painting of Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.

A Bill Foss painting of Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.

The day I talked to him, he was getting ready to roll out his “Choppers on Copper” series. A number of his paintings are on metal, and they create an interesting effect depending on the lighting in a room. One of his paintings on copper was inspired by the nearby “Spook Light” phenomenon.

Bill Foss with a few of his paintings on copper.

Bill Foss with a few of his paintings on copper.

A painting inspired by the local Spook Light phenomenon.

A painting inspired by the local "Spook Light" phenomenon.

Foss also was set to ship a gigantic painting of Led Zeppelin, so that former lead singer Robert Plant could autograph it. The painting was wrapped up when I was there, but you can see it here.

Foss told me he was going to be opening a space for his artwork next to the Coleman Theatre Beautiful a few miles away in downtown Miami. Foss can be contacted through his Web site here or calling 918-876-1329.

Hello from the U.K. November 25, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Here’s a version of “Route 66″ by In the Pink Big Band, which is based in Bournemouth, England.

Fighting unemployment with tourism November 24, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses.
2 comments

Officials in Macoupin County, Ill., fighting high joblessness because of the closing of several coal mines, are taking a different tack on trying to address the problem.

The Springfield Journal-Register reports that the county will create a Macoupin County Tourism Commission.

Efforts will include Route 66-related projects and the creation of a Web site listing historical and tourist sites in Macoupin County. […]

“We’re a large county with many historic sites. Not everyone, for example, may realize Mount Olive’s connection to Mother Jones,” Manar said, referring to Mary Harris Jones, a turn-of-the-20th-century  labor activist buried in the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“There’s a 20-foot bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln in Bunker Hill that was built in the early 1900s. Our county courthouse is second to none in the state,” Manar added.

Macoupin is applying to have the courthouse listed on the National Register as well.

Mindful of the potential for Route 66 to attract tourism, the county assumed ownership and maintenance of an old bridge along the famed route.

Officials who need advice about the Mother Road ought to consult with this business first.

Book review: “Roads to Quoz” November 23, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Books, Ghosts and Mysteries, Highways, History, Road trips.
2 comments

After losing his job and marriage, William Least Heat-Moon and his Ford Econoline van (dubbed Ghost Dancing) embarked on a 13,000-mile journey around America. He avoided the interstates and drove  two-lane highways and country roads. He eschewed chain restaurants for mom-and-pop eateries. And he met a lot of interesting people.

“Blue Highways: A Journey into America” sprung from those experiences. The literate and detailed book became a monster best-seller in 1982-83 and inspired countless Americans to seek their own two-lane adventures, including future Route 66ers.

A quarter-century later, Heat-Moon has released “Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey” (576 pages, $27.99, Little Brown & Co.). Heat-Moon has written other books in the interim, but he finally returns to what made him famous — writing stories about his two-lane adventures.

The “quoz” (rhymes with Oz) in the title means “anything strange, incongruous or peculiar; at its heart is the unknown, the mysterious.” It also reflects his fondness for words that start with Q, one of the least-used letters of the alphabet. His new wife shares this inclination and is nicknamed “Q” in the book.

And Heat-Moon’s search for quirky stories from the road is largely successful. In the book, he:

  • Spends a memorable night at a talented mural painter’s home.
  • Traces the length of the Ouachita River in Arkansas and Louisiana.
  • Ventures into the amazingly remote North Woods of Maine.
  • Talks to the caretaker of Jack Kerouac’s original scroll of “On the Road.”
  • Investigates the murder of a prominent lawyer in downtown Joplin, Mo., in 1901 — upon which the reader eventually discovers a shocking twist.
  • Teases out secretive details of the “Road to Nowhere” in Steinhatchee, Fla.
  • Tells the odd tale of the “Goat Woman of Smackover Creek.”
  • Visits a women who lives in a 117-square-foot dwelling, lives on $1,500 a year and has “the carbon footprint of a house cat.”
  • Discovers the tragic fate of the Great Mound of Jonesville, La., an American Indian earthen structure that was even bigger than the enormous Monk’s Mound at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois.

Heat-Moon and Q also pilot a Railcycle on abandoned railroad tracks and take a boat trip down the Intracoastal Waterway. But most of “Roads to Quoz” take place behind the wheel of four-wheeled vehicles.

What should be of particular interest to Route 66 aficionados is a segment about Heat-Moon and Q’s quest to find the Hornet Ghost Light, aka the Spook Light, a few miles off the Mother Road near the Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri borders. To their surprise, they see the apparition for several hours in the darkness, describing it as a UFO — an “Unexplained Flickering Orb.” Without revealing too much here, Heat-Moon explains the phenomenon, using detective work that would do Route 66 researcher Jim Ross proud.

(As an aside, Ross and fellow roadie Kip Welborn are listed in the acknowledgments of the book.)

Also, roadies should be intrigued by a lengthy segment devoted to Frank Brusca, who has spent virtually all of his adult life obsessively but quite happily researching U.S. 40, aka the National Road.

Heat-Moon’s writing in “Roads to Quoz” contains a lot of tangents that veer off the subject, and his proclivity for using obscure words will have some readers reaching for their dictionaries. But these minor shortcomings are leavened by his humility and gentle humor. He’s also a great storyteller, and has a knack of getting even the most taciturn stranger to open up to him.

And Heat-Moon has the right sensibility. His explanation of his use of the word “mosey” is illustrative:

… [Y]ou’ll note I’ve turned it into a noun about jogging along literally and figuratively, the destinations little places in the nation or in a motion. It’s a mosey because roads to quoz everywhere are posted “reduced speed ahead.” To hurry, in a space or idea, is to miss obscured signposts, hidden turnoffs, or an exit to Sublimity City (Kentucky), or Surprise Valley (California), or even Dull Center (Wyoming). To go leisurely today is almost un-American, so putting mosey, a pure Americanism, into the title of a book about American verges on illogic and invites mocking from any citizen carrying a fastport issued by the Department of Speed in a nation hell-bent for destination if not destiny in the Posthaste Era …

Let them mock. Heat-Moon is a roadie. He gets it.

Highly recommended.

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