Susan Croce Kelly, well-known among Route 66 fans for co-writing “Route 66: The Highway and Its People” with photographer Quinta Scott in 1988, will publish a biography about Cyrus Avery, the so-called Father of Route 66, in 2014.
The Avery book will be published by University of Oklahoma Press. Asked to describe her forthcoming volume, Kelly wrote in an email:
… [T]he book traces the life of this highway pioneer from his birth in Pennsylvania, boyhood in Indian Territory, and adult life as a Tulsa real estate mogul, oil man, politician, and road builder. A true man of his times, Avery did many things as he helped bring the trans-Mississippi west into the 20th century, but the book, like his life, zeroes in on his interest in roads and how he created America’s highway.
Kelly wasn’t sure on a publication date, but said it likely would reach bookstores by fall — in time for Christmas.
I was always a bit mystified why a book hadn’t been published before about Avery, with his colorful background, his key role in creating the world’s most famous highway, and his stature continuing to grow with Route 66’s renaissance. The fact the first Cyrus Avery biography will be written by Kelly, who wrote one of the first books about Route 66 after its decertification, is a very enticing prospect indeed.
(Portrait of a middle-aged Cyrus Avery via Oklahoma State University-Tulsa)