Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Thinking about Route 66

I grew up near Route 66, and I live today near Route 66. In fact, I drive daily to work and home on sections of Route 66, because I hate to drive in the traffic on Interstate 44.

What is called the Mother Road has interested me for many years, not enough to do any major research, but enough to make me stop and read whenever I see the phrase "Route 66."

And I was reading a list of birthdays for today, Oct. 18, and I saw that in 1918, Bobby Troup, a jazz pianist and composer was born. He is the composer of "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66."

Robert Wesley Troup, Jr. (who died Feb. 7, 1999),  was also an actor. Among his roles was Dr. Joe Early on "Emergency!" back in the Seventies of the previous century when I was in high school and college.

That is all it took to get me to thinking about Route 66. I remember when it was still Route 66, not Historic Route 66 or, as it was called when I was older, Missouri 266.

To get from our home in Moniteau County, Missouri, down to my grandparents' home in Greene County, Missouri, we had to drive south and then get on Route 66 at Lebanon. I don't remember much of those trips, but I do remember a trip when we ended up driving on rough road under construction, getting off and on the roadway.

We were driving on both sections of Route 66 and sections of its replacement, Interstate 44. At least that is how I remember it.

Eventually, we moved to live near my grandparents in Greene County, and I began attending Republic Elementary School. That was in school year 1963-1964.  Interstate 44 was still under construction in that area, for I remember a classmate in my new school who was named Stanley, I think, and he was the son of a highway engineer. He moved before the school year was over. I have not thought about that for years, and I am surprised I recall Stanley's first name. I hope that is not a sign of impending Alzheimer's.

We drove frequently on Route 66 to shop at Barnes General Store, a terrific place that had a mill, barber shop, grocery store all in one building and a gas station across the highway. Also, a hardware store was across the street.

When I was much older. in fact, when I was nearly in my 50s, I rode my bicycle twice on summer vacations from my home in Rolla to my sister's house on the old home place outside Republic. I rode on Route 66 as much as possible. That was a great deal of fun.

I like thinking about Route 66, and I'm going to have to do more of it.

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