Saturday, March 18, 2017

5 things happening with my Women of Route 66 project

Five things that are happening with my Women of Route 66 project:

Thing #1:
On March 7, I gave my new program, "Dreams, Designs, and Dastardly Deeds:  the Women of Missouri Route 66," at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. Wish you could have all been there! Some of the stories I shared were:  Julia Chaney, cook/owner/operator at Red's Giant Hamburg; Mayme Ousley, four-term mayor of St. James; outlaws Bonnie Parker and Blanche Barrow; and the women of the Boots, Wagon Wheel, and Munger Moss motels. I hope to have a couple more bookings of this program to announce soon.

Thing #2:
Watch for an article on some of the Missouri 66 women in the summer issue of Show Me Route 66, the excellent quarterly publication of the Route 66 Association of Missouri.

Thing #3:
My column in the next issue of the Buzz will be about the Mansholt family--particularly the women--and their hotels in Litchfield, Illinois. The Mansholts, now well into their second generation in the hospitality business, began with the purchase in 1963 of the 66 Motor Court on the 1930-1940 alignment. Story and photos will appear in the April issue of the Buzz, published on or about April 1. As always, you can read it online at If you live in Madison, Bond, Macoupin, or Montgomery County, you can pick up a paper copy at numerous libraries and businesses.

Thing #4:
I'm working on an Illinois Women of 66 program--it's in the development stage! I think the title of that program will be "Adventurers, Crusaders, and Entrepreneurs:  The Women of Illinois Route 66." As with the Missouri program, there'll be a lineup of diverse, persistent, and strong women included. So far, I have this program booked for the Macoupin County Historical Society in Carlinville on Monday, October 2. (Public is welcome and invited.) I'm sure this is going to get booked other places and dates.

Thing #5:
Also in October, I'll be speaking at one session of the third annual Miles of Possibility Conference! The third annual "MOP" will be held in Joliet, and my topic will be something to do with the women of Route 66.

Of course, the Missouri and Illinois women mentioned above are included in the early draft of my book (working title) Women of 66:  and Their Extraordinary Contributions to the Culture of the Mother Road

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Two new programs on women of 66

As I've been working on my forthcoming book, tentatively titled Women of 66 and Their Contributions to the Culture of the Mother Road, two program opportunities have arisen. These two programs will be the first based on the new book (unless another opportunity arises before the second scheduled one).

The first is coming up on Tuesday, March 7, at 7:00 pm, at the Missouri History Museum at Lindell and DeBaliviere in Forest Park, St. Louis. The title of the program is "Dreams, Designs, and Dastardly Deeds:  The Women of Missouri Route 66." I'll share remarkable tales of some of the women along Missouri's 300 miles of Route 66. The program is free, and we'll be located in the Lee Auditorium. 

The second program is scheduled for Monday, October 2, at 7:00 pm, at the Macoupin County Historical Society's library at 920 W. Breckenridge St. in Carlinville, Illinois. The title of the program is "Adventurers, Crusaders, and Entrepreneurs:  The Women of Illinois Route 66." In this one, I'll share some stories of the amazing women along Illinois's 300 miles of Route 66. That program, although for the Macoupin County Historical Society, is open to the public and is also free.

I'm looking forward to sharing some of the 100+ stories I've collected with you at these programs.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A new year, a new book, and old challenges

The first day of a new year usually brings thoughts of new beginnings, a fresh new slate on which to inscribe our best intentions, a new fall of snow all ready for our footprints in a new or renewed direction.

My thoughts this new year are on (a) a renewed commitment to a book project that I began several years ago, and (b) a new commitment to fight threats to women's rights. I woke up on January 1st thinking about my main writing project for 2017 and how it relates to women's rights. And what is that book project, you ask.

Several years ago, I began to think about the women during the historic Route 66 era who made significant contributions to what we collectively think of as Route 66 culture. I began to search out and collect their stories. My recent 33-day trip to California and back afforded me some time for inspiration and research to add to the already considerable pile of books, notes, brochures, scraps of paper, business cards, and three-ring binder that recently got moved from my three (count 'em, three) sets of large bookcases to its own set of shelves.

Books for background information to supplement primary research, some from my main bookshelves and some recently purchased, moved into their own shelves--which won't be enough for long.
Although I'm still looking at several different publishers and do not have a contract yet, I'm ready to let everyone know what I'm working on. Working title: Women of 66: Their Extraordinary Contributions to the Culture of Route 66. Sometime during 2017, I expect that my almost-10,000 word outline of approximately 100 amazing women will grow up into a cohesive narrative—with a publisher, beautiful cover art, a comprehensive index, endnotes, historic photos, and, eventually, readers!

A gift from my good friend Cindy Reinhardt several years ago, to start organizing for the future book.
This project is near and dear to my heart because of, obviously, my love for Route 66, but also because of my women's history studies (MA, 2001, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), and my fascination with material/American culture. Beyond the scope of an Arcadia Publishing book (of which I've done six), this project will draw from all three disciplines. From now on, I'll be posting, in my usual occasional and erratic way, updates on the book's process.

You will easily guess some of the women in the book, as they are true--and well-known--legends of Route 66. Lillian Redman, Lucille Hamons, Cynthia Hare Troup, Erna Fergusson, are just a few that should come to mind. But since my goal is to document how women shaped Route 66 culture, I'm not focusing only on the motel/ restaurant/station operators or on the obvious choices. Women in the fields of design, engineering, art, and politics also contributed to the culture of the "Main Street of America," and you are going to meet them in the book.

So that's the new year and the new book. Now for the old challenges—women's rights, which, sadly, shouldn't even still be a point of discussion. However, since the election of November 8, many women realize that their hard-fought rights are going to be threatened again, and we are ready to face that fight head-on. Many of us know, through our mothers', grandmothers', or other ancestors' stories, or through our study of women's history, of our sisters' struggles.

If the upcoming Women's March in D.C. on January 21 is any indication, women (and men standing with us) are ready to fight against threats to our rights. Sister marches are scheduled in solidarity around the world. Women are forming coalitions, planning local political campaigns, and making thousands of calls to their representatives. This is a fight we don't plan to lose. Because we remember the Alice Pauls and the Lucy Burnses of history, and because we remember our mothers' or grandmothers' stories. And because we know this debate isn't really between two political parties, but between right and wrong, between misogyny and human rights.

The women included in my book lived and worked during different stages of the evolution of women's rights. Somehow, they did what they did anyway. Their accomplishments were often remarkable, at a time when there were few women in their respective fields.

So that's what I'm thinking about at the beginning of this new year, and what I'm working on. What we women face now will help to inform my insight into what women faced then, and vice versa. I'll try to use it to its best advantage.

Because we've already fought that fight.

And because I want this book to be the best it can be. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mini book tour for "Route 66 in Kansas"

Last weekend I took the new Route 66 in Kansas book on the road for a mini book tour to the Tri-State area. Three events were planned, sponsored by three terrific museums, for Friday through Sunday, July 22-24. It was a great weekend, and as a bonus, I stayed three nights at the wonderful Boots Court in Carthage, Missouri, and enjoyed the new neon.

The first event was a book display and signing sponsored by the Powers Museum of Carthage at the Carthage Art Walk in - where else? - historic Downtown Carthage on the Square on Friday evening. Michele Newton Hansford of the Powers Museum secured a prime space for me inside the Carthage Deli, and she and her husband, Gary Hansford, joined me for the evening at the deli. Owner Chris was a gracious host as usual, and we enjoyed a fine supper and great conversation. The oppressive heat and humidity caused some of the artists to cancel out of the art walk. That, combined with construction around the square and the weather itself, made for a smaller crowd, but the company and food more than made up for that. 

On Saturday afternoon, the Galena Mining and Historical Museum hosted a book signing. Thanks to the enthusiastic Fred Billingsley and Linda Phipps, everything was all ready and then some. Big table, flowers, refreshment table, and people coming in the door! The irrepressible sisters who have done so much for Galena, Renee Charles and Melba Rigg, came by to visit, followed by Ron Jones, the Tattoo Man, who drove up from Bartlesville, Oklahoma. What support. I was humbled. We had a nice crowd throughout the afternoon, and in between visitors we augmented Linda's home-made cookies with pizza. 

On Sunday afternoon, the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum hosted. The also-enthusiastic Mary Billington, the center's new director, had things arranged beautifully. Big table, flowers, chairs and microphone in case of an impromptu book talk, and another delightful refreshment table. We had a steady crowd there too, and who showed up but road warrior Fred Zander from Topeka, and fellow Arcadia author Steve Clem from Sand Springs.  I was happy to see Linda Kennedy, former director of the center, stop by. Linda at the Baxter Springs museum and Fred Billingsley at the Galena museum, are the two main reasons that there IS a Route 66 in Kansas book! 

Also during the afternoon, Dustin Andrews, owner of the new area newspaper, Spring River Current, came by and did an interview with me, interviewed visitors, and printed a nice review. You can read that online:

I want to thank everyone who stopped by, bought books, brought food, treated me to dinner, made arrangements, worked on publicity, and generally made it a very fun and productive weekend. It was also fun to catch up with Penny Black (she was heading east) on Thursday evening, as she, like me, stopped at the Boots Court in Carthage. 

Our next events are in two different Springfields. On Saturday-Sunday, August 13-14, Joe and I will both be at Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in downtown Springfield, Missouri. If you're in the area, please stop by and see us in the Author, Artist, Association, and Collector Expo in the Old Glass Place (east end of the car show) between 10 am and 4 pm. This is a fantastic event that has really grown in the last couple years - attend if you can.

On Saturday-Sunday, September 24-25, we'll both be at the International Mother Road Festival in downtown Springfield, Illinois. Again, if you're in the area, please stop by. I believe that we'll be at the corner of Washington and Fifth again this year (north side of the Old Capitol). This long-established big event is also always fun. We'd love to see you and sign a book for you.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Route 66 in Kansas book release/first book signing at Catsup Bottle Festival!

Monday, July 4, was the official release date from Arcadia Publishing of Route 66 in Kansas,  when it became available from Amazon, Arcadia, and other book sellers.

Route 66 in Kansas is the second book collaboration between Joe and me, the first being Route 66 in Illinois, which was released in 2014. The Kansas book is my sixth book for Arcadia, and Joe's bazillionth...or maybe ninth or tenth. Joe and I worked hard on this project, enjoyed every trip to this special 13.2-mile stretch of Route 66, and sincerely hope you like the book!

Our first signing for the new book is Sunday, July 10, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the 18th Annual World's Largest Catsup Bottle Festival at Woodland Park in Collinsville, Illinois. We hope a lot of friends in the Edwardsville - Collinsville - St. Louis area can stop by! We are really looking forward to sharing the new book, AND, you'll have a ton of fun at the Catsup Bottle Festival. Think car show, tater tots with catsup, and vendors! 

I know, it's not Kansas, but our first event is here in Illinois for several reasons. #1:  I'm representing Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Sunday, so besides getting your very own signed copy of our new book, you can pick up (for free) a copy of the Illinois Route 66 Visitors Guide. (Sorry, I am all out of the famous Route 66 Scenic Byway flashing stickers. I'm down to my last one or two, which we just might wear.) #2:  We each live nearby. #3:  We think some of our Illinois friends will want a copy! #4:  The festival is fun!

As for Kansas book events, I am setting up book signings in the Tri-State/Kansas area. Confirmed events are Saturday afternoon, July 23, at the Galena Mining and Historical Museum in Galena, KS, and Sunday afternoon, July 24, at the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum in Baxter Springs, KS. Times to be announced but both are afternoon. Arcadia Publishing is setting up a couple additional events that weekend at book stores in the Tri-State area. I'll have the info on those early next week.

Meanwhile, Joe and I hope to see you Sunday at the Catsup Bottle Festival!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Blue Carpet Corridor weekend festival June 11-12

Here's this year's press release about our 2nd annual Blue Carpet Corridor festival weekend! It's BCC II !

Visit the Blue Carpet Corridor on Saturday-Sunday, June 11-12, and experience Midwest Americana on 100+ miles of Illinois Route 66! From Chatham to Collinsville, 13 communities will be welcoming visitors to their events, attractions, and Passport Stops. Joining in the fun for this second annual event are the following communities: Chatham, Virden, Girard, Carlinville, Gillespie, Staunton, Hamel, Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Litchfield, Mt. Olive, Troy, and Collinsville.

From internationally-known attractions like the World's Largest Catsup Bottle, Henry's Rabbit Ranch, and Soulsby Station, to long-running festivals like Chatham's American Legion Homecoming and Edwardsville's Route 66 Festival, Blue Carpet Corridor weekend is the perfect weekend family trip. From vintage stops like Doc's Soda Fountain and Weezy's Route 66 Bar and Grill to quirky new attractions like murals and CM Studios' A Walk with Dinosaurs, from a Cannonball Jail to a Heritage Museum to the 66th year in operation of the Sky View Drive-In, the Blue Carpet Corridor has it all.

Begin your self-guided tour anywhere along the corridor and pick up your free souvenir passport at any of our 13 official Passport Stops. Travel to all the stops to get all 13 unique stamps. Passport Stop hours are Saturday 8 am – 5 pm and Sunday 8 am – 3 pm. Many of the stops will offer local tourism information and directions, souvenir merchandise, work by local artisans, raffles, and/or refreshments.

Festivals and events in many towns will also feature evening entertainment. And several communities will begin their weekend festivities on Thursday or Friday evening. Watch for the white and blue signs in each community to direct you to the Passport Stop and other activities.

Photo ops will be plentiful at the corridor's numerous attractions, including museums, theaters, historic sites, monuments, murals, and charming town squares. Take time for some shopping at the many vendor booths, antique stores, yard sales, and mom 'n pop businesses. Enjoy a meal or a snack at a cook off, food booth, soda fountain, or roadhouse. Let the kids play at the many children's activities. See a movie, go on a carnival ride, take a tour, ride a trolley, and watch a parade. Meet-and-greet an author and get a book autographed, admire classic cars, and take a selfie with a costumed character. Listen to a variety of live music and maybe do a little dancing. Collect passport stamps, souvenir t-shirts and coins, and fun family memories.

You'll also find a complete schedule of events and the 2016 rack card/community map to download at for updates at For more information, call (618) 307-5049.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

New tourism info center and events on the Blue Carpet Corridor!

The second annual Blue Carpet Corridor weekend (BCC II) is coming up June 11-12, but in the meantime, it's not just spring flowers that are opening on this stretch of Illinois Route 66 from Chatham to Collinsville.

Hot news is the new Tourist Information Center in Edwardsville! Through a partnership between Cindy Reinhardt, Edwardsville historian and author, and LuAnn Locke, owner of Afterwords Books, travelers can now stop and pick up brochures and information about Edwardsville's attractions, restaurants, and lodging! The new tourist stop is located inside Afterwords Books at 454 E. Vandalia (Route 66), the former Cathcart-Goddard Tourist Inn which served travelers during the Route 66 era. Here's the link to an article about the new tourist stop in the Edwardsville Intelligencer:

This past weekend, there were at least three events on the BCC--in Litchfield, Hamel, and Edwardsville.

Litchfield celebrated the Grand Opening weekend and also the 66th birthday of the Sky View Drive-In on Friday-Sunday, April 1-3. The Sky View has new owners, Nick and Mindy Pastrovich, and Nick's parents, Mike and Debbie Pastrovich. The Hillsboro Journal-News ran an article about the next phase of the Sky View:
And here's the Sky View's new website:

In Hamel, Route 66 Ridez held their first Cruise In of the 2016 season. Traffic was winding down by the time I got there late Saturday afternoon, but there were still hot dogs and chips available in the very cool vintage kitchen and a group of people talking vehicles and 66. If you haven't stopped here, you'll enjoy seeing the kitchen and shopping in the souvenir shop.

On the SIUE campus in Edwardsville, a one-man play about Buckminster Fuller was presented in the Fuller Dome on the 90th Meridian! The History (and Mystery) of the Universe, a play by Douglas Jacobs, was presented Thursday and Friday evenings by SIUE Arts and Issues and by the Center of Spirituality and Sustainability, which is located in the Fuller geodesic dome. Jacobs himself was delightful and thought-provoking playing Fuller. The Fuller Dome is one of my very favorite places around Edwardsville, and is a little-known treasure along Route 66 (a separate blog post about the Fuller Dome coming up soon).

Coming up on Saturday, May 14, is an event in Collinsville, Rockin' for the Miners 3, to raise funds for the restoration of the historic Miner's Institute Theatre in Collinsville. The Miner's "friends of" group is hoping to get this magnificent and large theater building completely restored by its 2018 centennial. If you want to know more about the Miner's, check out their website and/or read my article, "Movie Palaces:  Historic Theaters along the Blue Carpet Corridor--Part One," in the April 2016 issue of the Prairie Land

And speaking of the Blue Carpet Corridor, we'll have the complete list of passport stops and other information on this year's event soon. For now, mark your calendars for Saturday-Sunday, June 11-12!