66 ARTICLES.... 66 PHOTOGRAPHS It is the most glamorized stretch of nonexistent pavement in the world. At one time it was a dirt road and a conduit to the promised land for drought-stricken midwesterners. In it's heyday, it was the world's longest amusement park, carrying tourists, snow birds and adventure seekers between Chicago and Los Angeles. Today, it is history, replaced by super highways, its festive, brazen merchants with their gimmicks and glitz worn to the ground through decades of neglect. A multi-state revival effort is hoping to bring The Mother Road back to life, trying to remind us what life was like on Route 66.

I will be following 66 from Chicago to L.A., My guide is Historic Route 66. written by Teri Parker, of the American Automobile Association. I have decided not to follow the trail brick by brick, because I will have to find stories along the way and will not backtrack just for novelty's sake. Also, no less than one mile into this route - and I am not kidding - I got hopelessly lost and missed a few miles of the Mother $&*#%@! Road.

It took a major cold front, with severe wind, rain and lightning, to get me off Route 66. In western Oklahoma, entering the Texas panhandle, I hit such terrible weather, that I spent 5 out of 10 nights in the shelter of motel rooms. I was relieved, actually, to get off the Mother Road, as I had become pretty bored with it and fairly annoyed with the recent 66 revival, which seems to require that every city, town and gas station open their own "Route 66 Museum." I am disappointed because I saw very little that was new, fresh and exciting, and a lot of hype and folly designed, it seemed, to merely separate a tourist from his money. Which is pretty much the story of Route 66.


Where's the Love?
Christina Anderson works past midnight, pouring and serving libations, taking care of the customer and dodging wolf whistles. And she does it all for love.

Learn how to impress your bartender!
Posted November 23, 1998

Solace on the Vine
After a career spent teaching Missouri's most hardened juvenile delinquents, Marvin Rippelmeyer cultivates a different seed, enjoying life as a grape grower in central Missouri.
Posted October 23, 1998

Making out at the Drive-in
From Abbott and Costello to Muppets in Space (soon!) The Sky View Drive-in has been a favorite date for Central Illinois (movie) lovers for nearly half a century.
Posted October 16, 1998


Head west on 66, in Catoosa, Oklahoma, and you can't miss the biggest fake whale in the world. 80 feet long, it has a water slide out its left ear (if whales have ears) and a diving platform on its tail. The park is rundown, but the whale has a new paint job - maybe it will surface again.

Johnie's Tavern, in St. James, Missouri. This place is a real hoot. Run by Johnnie until about a year ago, this bar is a museum of American Indian history and a great hangout for cards - pull in at noon and you can jump in late in the game, with Johnnie's son, the new owner. There's a ball of string in the corner about two foot around. "No one saves string no more."

A prop used in the TV series Route 66. Found at the Route 66 Hall of Fame, in the Dixie Trucker truck stop, in McLean, Illinois.

Visit the Launching Pad Cafe in Wilmington, Illinois and let the "Gemini Giant" tower over you. This guy was built in the early 60's, according to Parker.

"All the good roads lead nowhere.
They aren't a direct route or a shortcut to anyplace,
and they hold no attraction for those bent on making time.
These byways, instead wander far over the map,
meandering through the mind,
not stopping till they
arrive at the heart."

Dianne Young
From a school project display
at the Route 66 Hall of Fame
McLean, Illinois

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