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Christmas windows in Tucumcari November 25, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, Motels.

On Saturday night, the 2011 Christmas Village Display will debut at 808 E. Route 66 Blvd. in Tucumcari, N.M.

The display, across the street from the historic Blue Swallow Motel, will feature Lionel toy trains and Rose Kaye’s extensive collection of ceramic lighted buildings. The display was set up inside vacant spaces of the building; it also houses the Contemporary Designs gift shop and A Cut Above hair salon.

Here’s a sneak preview of the Christmas display, with photos shot by Blue Swallow co-owner Kevin Mueller. In a couple of the photos, you’ll see the reflection of the neon lights from the Blue Swallow:

More photos can be seen here.

The display will be on nightly from 6 to 8 p.m. through the Christmas season.

I know of at least one other Christmas window display on Route 66, and that’s in Joplin City Hall in Joplin, Mo. Here’s a video of the displays from the 2009 Christmas season:

And I’d be remiss to not mention the Christmas animated window displays that were a fixture for decades at the Marshall Field’s store in downtown Chicago. Marshall Field wasn’t on Route 66, but the store and its displays were a big enough legends to warrant a side trip.

Marshall Field’s is now a Macy’s, but it has continued the tradition. This video shows the windows from last year:

One-man band November 24, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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But you’ve never seen a version of Bobby Troup’s most famous song like this one:

The performer’s name is Mark Di Giuseppe of Italy, aka The Legendary Straniero.

Church expansion takes on a Route 66 theme November 24, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Religion, Restaurants.
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The Wildwood Community Church in Norman, Okla., recently built an addition that includes a Route 66 theme, according to an article in the Norman Transcript.

According to the newspaper:

The general idea of the expansion centers around a Route 66 theme. All of the art is original and much of the general decor are things repurposed from junkyards, like a real Spartan travel trailer estimated to have been manufactured in Tulsa around 1949.

“They (Team JYD) found it buried up to the windows outside of a truck stop in Chandler. It was one of those things where if you can get it out of here, you can have it. They dug it out and they drove it back to Oklahoma City and they didn’t know for sure where they would use it, but they found someone to give it to. It fit the Route 66 idea,” Robinson said. “I love the icon of the trailer, too because it’s the idea that church is your home away from home.”

There are four halls in the building and they all have different geographic areas — the beach, the mountains, the desert and the forest.

Team JYD, which came up with the addition’s design, is the same firm that bought the 66 Bowl’s neon sign in Oklahoma City when the property changed hands a year ago.

Team JYD didn’t post photos of the church addition on its website. However, you can see 360-degree panoramic photos of it here (images may take some time to load).

Also, Team JYD is designed a restaurant in the Route 66 town of Edmond, Okla., called Red’s Southern Diner. Cameron Eagle at Team JYD said in an email:

 It also has a an 8 foot tall rotating bucket of chicken inside hanging from the ceiling, a 1949 Spartan eat in trailer, and fans made from lawn mowers.

It also features a giant neon chicken sign in the front.

The address of the restaurant is 840 W. Danforth Road (map here), about a mile northeast of Route 66’s closest point, at Edmond Road and Broadway.

Site approved for Route 66 museum in Litchfield November 23, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Museums.

Organizers for a Route 66 museum in Litchfield, Ill., have approved a site and building design, and plan on starting construction in the spring, reports The Journal-News in nearby Hillsboro.

According to the newspaper:

The 4,600 square foot building will be located on historic Route 66 across from Jubelts and the Ariston.

The museum will house Litchfield artifacts and memorabilia and highlight the city’s history and growth. […]

Tourist information and a history of Route 66 will also have a place in the building.

The Ariston refers to the Ariston Cafe, which has operated in Litchfield next to Route 66 since 1935. As a result, the museum couldn’t be in a better location.

It was reported a few weeks ago that Andy Ritchie was planning a cross-country bicycle ride to raise funds for the museum. At the time, a building and site hadn’t been announced.

The building will also be the home of Litchfield’s tourism coordinator, Litchfield Chamber of Commerce, and Montgomery County Genealogy Society.

UPDATE 12/2/2011: The State-Journal Register in Springfield has more details about the museum, including this:

The sleek, art-deco-inspired structure designed by John Fletcher will rise from the former Vic Suhling gas station, which used to greet travelers on one of the remaining original stretches of the Mother Road. The former station’s neon sign — “Vic” Suhling Gas for Less — is the only thing remaining on the lot in the 300 block of Historic Route 66.

The sign — already a tourist draw — will remain. The association plans to restore its neon.

The nonprofit group needs to raise $500,000 to make the museum a reality.

A word from our sponsor … November 22, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Magazines, Television.
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This is an ad created by Sarah Laird and Good Company:


The information on the video is scant, but I’m pretty sure it’s a spot for this magazine.

World’s Largest Catsup Bottle rolls out new holiday ornament November 21, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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The folks at the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Ill., have announced the creation of a new ornament for Christmas and other Yuletide holidays, featuring that distinctive water tower.

According to the news release:

Each red, white, and blue 3-D brass ornament comes in a red, gold-stamped collector’s box with a commemorative insert. Official Catsup Bottle red Christmas ribbon is also included!

The ornament is stamped on the back with the Catsup Bottle website address and “Made in U.S.A.” The box measures 5″ x 5″ and the oval ornament measures 3.25″ x 2.25″.

If you live in the Collinsville, Illinois, area, ornaments are available for purchase at Ashmann’s Pharmacy, Dean’s Wine & Liquor, The Flower Basket, and Cullop Jennings Florist. They are also available at both Collinsville Walgreens locations.

The ornament, which lists for $16.50, can be ordered online here.

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle sits near the site of a former Brooks Catsup factory. The 100,000-gallon water tower, painted to resemble a Brooks ketchup bottle, was built in 1949.

Brooks moved its operations to Indiana years later, but the big bottle stayed. A local preservation group restored it in 1995, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle sits about two miles south of the nearest alignment of Route 66 at Beltline Road in Collinsville. However, it remains a favorite side trip for many Route 66 travelers.

El Rey Inn marks 75th year November 21, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Motels.
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The historic El Rey Inn in Santa Fe, N.M., is marking its 75th year along Cerrillos Road (aka Route 66), according to an article in the Albuquerque Journal.

Terrell White has owned El Rey since 1973. Amazingly, it’s reportedly not known who actually built the original motel structure:

The records don’t show who built the original adobe, 12 rooms with carports in a strip along the barely paved Cerrillos Road in 1936. For a couple of years, U.S. Route 66 hitched up her skirts and swung up through the Capital City and back down to Albuquerque, so the new motor court, as motels were called then, was a feasible economic venture.

White thinks the same developer built El Vado Court in Albuquerque as a sister business. Unfortunately, El Vado has fallen on hard times. But El Rey has become more beautiful over the years.

“The El Rey is an ongoing work of art, a tradition for 75 years,” White said. “People love it for what it is and what it represents.” […]

In the 1950s, then owner Len Matthews had enclosed the original individual carports to become sleeping rooms. Matthews also had a swimming pool built to keep El Rey in step with the newer motels in Santa Fe. Neighboring Alamo Lodge, also locally owned, was built in the ’50s just northeast of El Rey’s property line.

Many of the elements that make El Rey such a favorite were instituted by White over the past 38 years. The early-’70s oil crisis had a profound effect on travel, and White had to undertake the expensive and laborious project of replacing all of the hotel’s eroded gas and sewer pipes. Those were tough times, he recalled recently, even harder than the recent economic downturn.

The gardens are also his doing, he said. “Having nice grounds was something that was always important to my parents, and I guess I brought that sensibility with me,” he said. “It’s always been a passion for my family to have a green environment that is welcoming. The lush grounds are our signature. I planted so many of the trees myself.”

White also built a greenhouse in 1995. And rooms have been added three times during White’s ownership.

So, even though the motel has changed frequently, its grounds are so immaculate and the changes are so tasteful that few would know.

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