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Top of the POPS June 30, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Music.
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A rock band, Dr. Pants, decided to film a video for its song “Sarsaparilla Girl” at POPS on Route 66 in Arcadia, Okla.

What’s even cooler is that the video was shot entirely with iPhone 4s, using the device’s high-definition video capability.

The video was shot on Tuesday, and here it is. According to KTUL-TV in Tulsa:

“After only 48 hours from concept to final product we filmed this entire music video with the iPhone 4’s 720p HD video just to see if it can be done!” Roberts said.

To steady the camera for the video, Roberts built a homemade universal case/plate with items purchased from a local hardware store.  Other equipment included a jib, tripod, and indislider.

As good as it looks, I suspect some videographers might be getting nervous.

The lost Bob Waldmire interview June 30, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, People.
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Route 66 enthusiast Ron Hart interviewed Mother Road hippie and artist Bob Waldmire for about 30 minutes during the National Route 66 Festival in Clinton, Okla., in 2007.

Hart said he’d misplaced the video until recently, and decided to post it online this week. It’s a fairly typical (if unpredictable) conversation with Bob that’s sometimes delightful, sometimes eerie. Less than three years later, Waldmire would be dead of cancer.

I’m really glad this is out here. When Waldmire was diagnosed with his terminal illness last year, I lamented that there were so few videos of him. It was nobody’s fault, really. Waldmire led a gypsy existence, and no one knew when or where he would show up. So, barring the rare someone who carried  a video camera at all times, roadies seldom ever got the chance of getting Waldmire down on tape.

Now, this clip gives us the chance to relive him when he was healthy, happy and utterly unique.

Accounting the past to plan for the future June 29, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History.
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This story Monday by the Press-Enterprise explains as well as any the importance behind an ongoing comprehensive study of Route 66 in California. An excerpt:

The report can then be used to help property owners apply for state and federal historic grants or listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Rather than each site applying and summarizing the historic importance of Route 66, the study can be used as a boilerplate synopsis of the road, and landowners can then focus solely on their site’s relevance.

Anyone can participate in the program, or not cooperate, officials said. And contrary to what some believe, listing on the national historic register doesn’t force the owner to do anything. To receive federal grants or loans, however, the owner has to agree to preserve the property, Murphey said.

And though I’ve been to Amboy numerous times, I didn’t even know about this:

Out in the desert, finding the real Route 66 can be a challenge. Because the road was formed by linking local roads from county to county and state to state, the alignments in the desert changed over time, said Hatheway, the county cultural resource specialist. Where the motel and gas station in Amboy sit is the second incarnation. To find the original, travelers must mosey about 200 yards south, to a gravel road behind a church that passes an old graveyard.

“Can you imagine driving more than 2,000 miles on that?” Hatheway asked. “Bouncing up and down in an old car in 1937. That’s how so many people got here.”

Notes from the road June 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Books, Businesses, People, Road trips, Sports.
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I received word Monday that Betty Courtney, 79, one member of the team that helped form the much-praised 4 Women on the Route in Galena, Kan., died Sunday.

She, along with Melba Rigg, Judy Courtney and Renee Charles, helped lead the charge to take an abandoned gas station on Route 66 in Galena and transform it into 4 Women on the Route — a cafe, souvenir store and tourism center. 4 Women on the Route was named New Business of the Year in 2008 at the Will Rogers Awards Evening.

Betty Courtney was the mother of Larry Courtney, also a prime mover and shaker in the Galena area.

Initial word of Betty’s death came from Melba’s daughter, Shelby, on her Facebook account.

According to the Joplin Globe, services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Granby First Baptist Church in Granby, Mo. Burial will be in Grand Memorial Cemetery. Visitation will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Clark Funeral Home in Granby.

— Arcadia Publishing, which has released a number of regional Route 66 history books, will publish “Route 66 in Springfield” in September (that’s Springfield in Illinois, by the way).

— Sears is looking for teams of people to explore America, including Route 66. Apply now.

— Willem Bor, the artist from the Netherlands who makes miniatures of Mother Road landmarks, went to the Lebanon Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, Mo., to deliver a model of the Nelson Tavern. The Lebanon Daily Record has the story.

— The racers in the American Solar Challenge have been making their way across the country on Route 66. Jane Reed for the Cuba Route 66 Mural City blog snapped a few photos of them in Cuba, Mo.

What’s next for the Blue Whale? June 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.
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A story about the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Okla., by KTUL-TV in Tulsa contained the usual angles about the Route 66 icon’s colorful history.

But it sounds like Jennifer Edwards, the Catoosa Arts & Tourism Council chief, has some new and fresh things in mind for the blue behemoth:

Edwards says with a little elbow grease and extra money the blue whale can increase tourist traffic in Catoosa. Her community has used this impromptu icon but not to it’s full potential like other towns, she says.

“They completely live off of their little icons in their communities and we here in Catoosa haven’t quite taken advantage of that yet.”

The board is hoping to make “Blue Whale” souvenirs, make it wheelchair accessible and revive the festival “Blue Whale Days” in honor of the grinning attraction. […]

The tourism board would also like to upgrade this information shelter which has definitely seen it’s better days.

In the comments section of the story, Edwards says:

The visitor survey is already bringing us a wealth of information (June 2 – June 24,  289 visitors from 13 countries and 28 US states) and we’re excited to take a fresh approach based upon the data we’re receiving.  One question in particular asks, ‘What would you like to see at The Blue Whale in the future?’  We offer some ‘circle’ items such as: restaurant, souvenirs, shopping, lodging and leave same.  We hope this will help determine what would entice travelers to stay more than a few minutes for a photo op.

The Blue Whale has a Twitter account here.

It appears the Blue Whale is getting better and better. It was barely 10 years ago when the whale was decaying markedly, and visitors were discouraged from venturing on the property with a mess of “No Trespassing” signs.

At the drive-in June 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Road trips, Theaters, Vehicles.
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Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch makes an enjoyable trip up Route 66 to the Skyview Drive-In in Litchfield, Ill., to see the the Steve McQueen classic film, “Bullitt.”

Apparently Williams owns a 1966 Plymouth Fury. Good for him.

Book review: “Things to Look Out for on Route 66 in St. Louis” June 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Highways, History.

It became apparent while reading Kip Welborn’s self-published book that it’s not just a guidebook about Route 66 in St. Louis. It’s also a love letter to his city.

It’s that enthusiasm about the Mother Road and his town that lifts “Things to Look Out for on Route 66 in St. Louis” (60 pages, spiral-bound soft cover, $10) above the dull prose of many history books or sloppiness of many self-published volumes. That proceeds from the book’s sales go to the Friends of the Mother Road nonprofit preservation group is a bonus.

And Welborn’s town needs such a guidebook. St. Louis boasts no fewer than six Route 66 alignments, making it one of the most confusing cities in which to trace that historic Road. Fortunately, Welborn’s book generously supplies turn-by-turn directions, plenty of hand-drawn and annotated maps, and black-and-white photographs of landmarks.

Not only does Welborn trace notable buildings, motels, businesses and restaurants, he points out vanished ones, too — including the site of Sportsman’s Park, the longtime home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, and the art-deco masterpiece Coral Court Motel.

In the back of the book, Welborn provides appendixes of Route 66 alignments year-by year, lodging options on or near Route 66, and restaurants.

In fascinating but succinct detail, Welborn traces St. Louis’ history and its role as a critical hub in river, rail, air and highway transportation. The city not only hosts Route 66, but U.S. 61 (Blues Highway), U.S. 67 (Ozark Highway), U.S. 50 (Loneliest Highway) and U.S. 40 (National Road).

But unlike those other roads, U.S. 66 was decertified as a federal highway in 1985. According to a St. Louis Globe-Democrat story from that time that Welborn reprints, those U.S. 66 signs were swiped by souvenir hunters even then. (Some things never change.)

Welborn really knows his stuff. I lived in “The Lou” metro area for nearly eight years, and knew plenty about before then from many years of listening to KMOX radio. But Welborn’s book informed me of a few things which I was unaware (such Yacovelli’s restaurant, Schneithorst’s pub, and the real purpose of the century-old water towers). And if he isn’t sure about something, he knows where to find out.

Welborn also devotes separate stories to the Stanley Cour-Tel and Lin Air Motel, the historic Calvary and Bellfontaine cemeteries, Falstaff Brewery, KSHE rock ‘n’ roll radio station, and Route 66 enthusiast Jane Dippel. It’s these segments where Welborn’s knowledge and enthusiasm hit their stride. He writes about the now-gone Chouteau Bridge and Vandeventer Viaduct:

During the dismantling process, I visited the old Bridge and Viaduct on numerous occasions. It gave me the opportunity to see how strong it was constructed. It appears that the original pavement was framed in metal. Underneath the pavement was concrete supported by large Belgian blocks. These were set atop wood rafters, where were set atop more concrete. The supports for the Viaduct were rebar enforced concrete.

There is now a nice, sterile new bridge taking Chouteau Ave. across the railroad tracks. There was no replacement constructed for the Vandeventer Viaduct. The bridge gets you from hither to yon, and you won’t find the concerns and defects you found crossing the old Bridge, but, as in any case where the “old” is replaced by the “new”, you sense a loss of something old, something different, something special.

Highly recommended.

(A copy of “Things to Look Out for on Route 66 in St. Louis” can be mailed to you, postage paid, by sending a check of $12.25 to Friends of the Mother Road, 3947 Russell, St. Louis, MO 63110.)

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