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Route 66 cost-share grants announced August 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, Motels, Preservation, Restaurants, Signs.
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The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program on Friday announced in its quarterly newsletter its annual cost-share grants for historic Route 66 businesses and landmarks.

Most of the information comes from the newsletter or news release, except where I added links and other information. The recipients are:

Historic Seligman Sundries, Seligman, Ariz. — With its distinct false front, shading porch and an array of sweets and cool drinks, Seligman Sundries has attracted travelers to its soda fountain since the 1920s. Built about 1905, the building served as a dance hall, theater and later, a drugstore. During the U.S. 66 era, it went by the name of Ted’s Fountain and Trading Post, with cars corralled around the store, as tourists stepped inside for a soda or sundries. The cost-share grant will install a new asphalt shingle roof, replicating close to how it looked during its Route 66 heyday. ($5,115 grant, $5,115 match by owner)

Relighting the historic signs of Figueroa Street, Highland Park, Calif. — The Highland Theatre sign looms over North Figueroa Street (old U.S. 66), creating a landmark for this neighborhood of Latinos and artists northeast of downtown Los Angeles. But at night, unlit, it fades away. Down the street, perched on the roof of Las Cazuelas (Google Street View image here), the old Manning’s Coffee Store sign is only a skeleton, missing its neon and opal glass components. With a cost-share grant, the Friends of the Historic Signs of Figueroa Street will replace the blown-out incandescent bulbs of the community’s landmark theater sign and restore the former coffee store sign. With these projects, the Friends’ goal is to continue a lightning/signage theme along this stretch of urban Route 66. ($6,812 grant, $15,148 match by owner)

Munger Moss Motel, Lebanon, Mo. — Its bright yellow directional arrow and multi-colored neon letters have attracted overnighters to the Munger Moss since the mid-1950s. But with effects of time and weather, the sign is showing its age. Today, the “M” is missing from “Moss,” and much of the neon tubing and geometrical neon design are missing or damaged. The grant will not only restore the main sign to working order, but also relight the small “office” sign made of bent neon tubing. ($11,300 grant, $11,300 match by owner)

Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba, Mo. – Constructed in 1936 by Leo Friesenhan, a Hungarian-born stone mason from St. Louis, handsome stone trimmed Tudor Revival-style cabins attracted travelers to this estate-like motel. But over the years, with diminished traffic, the cabins and grounds began to deteriorate. The grant will fund a project to install a new HVAC system to cool and warm the cabins, and storm units over the original wood windows to conserve energy. It will also restore rotted eaves and porch members and refinish an original floor in one room, bringing this National Register-listed motel more up to speed. ($30,000 grant, $35,577 match by owner).

Bristow Firestone Station, Bristow, Okla. – Just three months before Oct. 29, 1929, “Black Tuesday,” the Bristow Daily Record announced the Firestone Corporation had purchased land at the north end of Main Street of this central Oklahoma city to build a full-service gas station, promising it would to be “one of the most modern in the state.” Despite the onset of hard times, Firestone held to its promise, completing a stylish, six-bay, Art Deco designed, one-stop filling station the next year. Eighty years later, a Bristow native will use a cost-grant to restore the National Register-listed filling station for new use as a body repair shop and a tribute to Route 66. ($30,000 grant, $86,925 match by owner).

The newsletter also mentioned the completion of several Route 66 projects that were awarded cost-share grants. The Sunset Motel in Villa Ridge, Mo., completed a restoration of its neon sign and other repairs; the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Ill., installed a new HVAC system and made other interior repairs; and Walter’s Market in St. Louis restored its storefront.

66 years of marriage, on Route 66 August 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in People.
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The Kingman (Ariz.) Daily Miner tells of the story of Kenneth and Kathleen Kelley, who are celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary and live on Route 66 in Kingman.

They marked the date by being photographed in front of 1966 cars (with the help of the Route 66 Cruisers club) in front of the Powerhouse Visitors Center, which houses the local Route 66 museum.

Kenneth was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne during World War II when he met Kathleen at a coffee shop in Leicester, England. They dated for several months, meeting each time under the spiral clock tower in town.

Kathleen admits to standing Kenneth up several times during their initial courtship. He had been seeing a friend of hers and she wasn’t quite sure if she was comfortable dating him.

Kathleen eventually relented, and the couple dated for several months, during which time Kenneth proposed a half a dozen times.

Kathleen said no each time until she finally accepted.

The couple moved to a house on Route 66 in Kingman in 1962 and raised four children. He was a mine superintendent.

Blue Swallow Motel put up for sale August 26, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, People, Preservation.

Bill Kinder, co-owner and operator of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M., for the past four years, has decided to place the historic Route 66 landmark for sale because of a recurrence of cancer.

Bill and Terri shortly after they bought the Blue Swallow in 2006.

Kinder and his wife Terri purchased the Blue Swallow in 2006. He was diagnosed with cancer shortly after, about the same time Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire exhibited symptoms of the disease. Waldmire ultimately died from his cancer in December 2009; Kinder believed he beat it after extensive treatments — until recently.

Kinder knew something had gone wrong with his health weeks ago.

“I just became weaker and tired-er,” he said by phone Thursday afternoon. “I was getting tired all the time. You just know (something is wrong).”

Kinder says he’ll close the Blue Swallow for the season in October, then undergo cancer treatment for at least four months. Kinder opted not to let Terri run it by herself while he’s being treated. “It’s fun, but it’s too much for one person,” he said.

They listed the Blue Swallow on the LoopNet real-estate site about two weeks ago. A longtime reader informed me about it.

The 12-unit motel is listed for $375,000. That’s significantly more than the $165,000 previous owners Dale and Hilda Bakke initially listed it for five years ago. But Bill and Terri have greatly increased the motel’s revenue by raising room rates, selling more souvenirs, and aggressively catering to motorcycle tours. The motel often boasts a 90 percent occupancy rate during Route 66 tourism season.

So confident is Kinder in the Blue Swallow’s money-making ability, he says he’s going to insist on a 30 to 35 percent downpayment if he finances the purchase — unless, of course, if someone buys it outright.

It probably won’t be a hard sell. The Blue Swallow is arguably the most treasured and well-known motel on Route 66. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Bakkes greatly boosted the 1939 motel in the eight years they owned it, and Bill and Terri made even more improvements and additions. The motel remains in terrific condition.

And the motel’s unique neon sign, distinctive architecture, and its storied history of longtime owner Lillian Redman will make it hard to resist.

Whoever owns the Blue Swallow won’t own just a motel. He or she will be owning a legend.

Straight to the DVD pile August 26, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Road trips.
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Here’s a movie I had no idea existed until today. It’s a road-trip film called “$5 a Day,” and it was released on DVD on Tuesday.

According to HamptonRoads.com’s High-Def Watch section, the movie takes place partly on Route 66. Though it was a low-budget flick, it boasted several prominent actors. The synopsis:

Christopher Walken is hilarious as Nat, an eccentric con-artist and deadbeat dad dying to reconnect with his troubled son, Flynn (Alessandro Nivola, The Eye, Laurel Canyon). Diagnosed with a terminal illness, Nat shanghais his reluctant son into driving him cross-country for experimental medical treatment. Low on cash, they pull off increasingly ridiculous and embarrassing schemes along the way to reach their destination spending only $5 a day. Boasting a star-packed cast that includes Sharon Stone, Amanda Peet and Dean Cain, $5 A DAY is an irresistibly fresh and charming comedy about letting go of the past and choosing your own road.

Here’s the trailer:

According to IMDB.com, “$5 a Day” screened at several film festivals, but I found no evidence it made it to wide release. I wondered why. This tidbit is a big tell:

The project dates back to 2003 when Nick Cassavetes had signed on to direct, but a year later was replaced by John Curran. Three years later Nigel Cole is sitting in the director’s chair.

That shows all the signs of a troubled production. Another bad sign was that Sharon Stone appeared in it. She’s had the work taste (or luck) in films for about 15 years.

Auction set for Tuesday of 66 Bowl’s contents August 26, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Signs, Sports.
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A big auction to sell off the contents of the historic 66 Bowl in Oklahoma City has been set for Tuesday, according to KWTV.

The list of items on the block will include the bowling alley’s iconic neon sign.

The auction will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday at 66 Bowl, and will include online bidding (details for that are here).

The 66 Bowl was sold several months ago to an India grocer. The bowling alley’s owner reportedly saw investments go sour, forcing him to sell the facility.

The bowling alley will close Sept. 3.

8/28/2010 UPDATE: The Oklahoman has a story about the upcoming auction. Apparently Hollywood movie producers have taken a shine with some of the memorabilia.

Briton driving Route 66 to raise funds for hospice August 26, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motorcycles, Road trips.
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Ted Brooker of England will mark his 66th birthday by driving Route 66 next month in a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and raise funds for a local hospice, reported the Derbyshire Times.

“I’ve had a great life so far and thought it would be a waste to do something as fun as this and not generate some vital funds for Ashgate Hospice.

“Route 66 is 2,453 miles long so I’ve set myself a target of raising £1 per mile – so far I’ve raised well over £1,000.”

He’s scheduled to begin his journey from Chicago on Sept. 17 and will be on the road for two weeks. He’s already attracted Peak Riders, Brampton Brewery and HarleyWorld in Chesterfield as supporters or sponsors.

You can make a donation or sponsor Brooker by going to his website here.

New “Route 66: Ten Years Later” trailer August 24, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Movies.
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A new trailer has just been posted for the “Route 66: Ten Years Later” documentary by Tim Steil and Jim Luning.

The big premiere will be at the Portage Theater in Chicago at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9.

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