Since we were close to Route 66, we went back to visit some of our favorite places. We stopped in again to visit Larry, aka Supertam, in Cartersville and found him working on his rail car. When finished it will be a tribute to Route 66.
We found our card framed and amongst his huge collection of Superman memorabilia.
He had yet another Route 66 project underway. These little towns are very dependent upon Route 66 visitors so they are always looking for ways to get traffic to slow down, stop, and spend time and money. We were lucky enough to be there for his 10th anniversary and ice cream was 99 cents a scoop for the month of June.
The next stop was Galena, KS. This gas station used to be called Four Sisters on the Route but has been renamed Cars on the Route after is was used for inspiration in the movie “Cars”. Mater is still looking good.
We took time to go in the Galena Murder Bordello across the road which is now an antique store. Ghosts tours have been given over the years and “ghost specialists/ghost busters” have been brought in and have confirmed supernatural spirits! The lady working at Cars on the Route used to be a tour guide and shared her hair raising experiences!
A stop in Joplin was next. New murals have been added. We went off Route 66 to visit the memorial to those who lost their life in the tornado of 2011. A catastrophic EF5 rated multiple vortex tornado came through on May 22, 2011. It reached a maximum width of nearly 1 mile with winds greater than 200 mph and approximately 13 miles long as it tore through the southern part of the city. There were 161 fatalities and 1,000 inuries. It destroyed 8,000 buildings and 18,000 trees. Joplin has become a city of hope, perserverance, and dedication. For pictures taken after the tornado and 5 years later visit the following link: http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2016/05/21/five-years-after-devastating-may-2011-joplin-tornado-heres-what-city-looks-like/83589110/
Our next trip on Route 66 was to Miami, (my-am-uh) Oklahoma which is named after a Native American tribe . This town became a mining boomtown due the discovery of extensive lead and zinc deposits in 1905. We had met a couple while playing pickleball in Joplin and Jerry invited us to his Rotary Club Luncheon. We arrived early enough before lunch to walk the main street.
We had time to tour the 1929 Coleman Theatre and were lucky enough to get a tour guide, Guy, who was passionate about, not only the history of the theatre, but the town and nearby towns. He was a retired school teacher born and raised in the area and we got the behind the scenes tour too. The vaudeville theatre and movie palace was built by zinc mining magnate George Coleman, Sr. at a cost of $590,000 so that his wife did not have to travel to Paris for shows. It has had stars such as Will Rogers, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby grace its stage. Perhaps the biggest star to return during the restoration is the “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ. Opulent is the word which comes to mind when describing the interior and it’s amazing how it’s been painstakingly restored to it’s original Louis XV décor. Trim accented with gold leaf, carved mahogany moldings and railings and stained glass windows give a glimpse of the prosperity of that era.
Guy, our tour guide gave us the history of Miami and of the neighboring town Picher, which has become a ghost town. It was once a major national center of lead and zinc and produced more than 50% of the lead and zinc metal used in WWI. Mining ceased in 1967 and when the government took over the mines, they in their infinite wisdom, stopped pumping out the water causing the mines to fill which then lead to contamination. It was determined Picher was too toxic to be habitable. A superfund pac was set up and residents were given money to relocate. Most of the townspeople left but a few stayed and steadfastly refused to give up their property.
We were fortunate on our Route 66 trip this past fall to meet some Route 66 legends and that luck continued with us as we revisited Route 66. On our way back to Carthage we stopped in Baxter Springs at a newly renovated Route 66 diner, Angels on the Route. The homemade strawberry shortcake was out of this world!
The 1930’s era restored service station, now a Visitor’s Center, was open this time around so we stopped in.
Much to our delight and surprise we met a Route 66 icon. As I was looking at the memorabilia and photographing a news clipping about “Crazy Legs” who was an inspiration for Mater’s character in Disney/Pixar’s movie “Cars”, a gentleman behind me asked if I would like to take a picture of the real thing.
Dean Walker or “Crazy Legs” can turn his legs backwards and this feat inspired the movie makers to portray Mater as a good ‘ol boy tow truck and self proclaimed world’s best backwards driver. “Crazy Legs” appeared on the Jay Leno show. He is also the Kansas Historic Route 66 Ambassador and shared many memories of days gone by. It was a real treat to meet this legend.
We had just enough time left in the day to visit the Baxter Springs Museum. Surprisingly there was no fee to tour this large and impressive museum with artifacts from the days of the Osage Native Americans through the civil war and lead and zinc mining era. “Crazy Legs” was proud his mother’s arrowhead collection was a display in the museum.
Thank goodness for Maytag! Washing machines over the years.
James Porter certainly had time on his hands. This is the world’s longest hand carved wooden chain. It is 1,145 feet long or as tall as a 95 story skyscraper or 3 1/2 football fields. It earned him an appearance on the Johnny Carson show where he talked about whittling for 20 minutes.
A day on the Route well spent!