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July/August 2011

MISSION STATEMENT Our mission statement is actually pretty simple: If it’s good for the entire Road, do it!. We are dedicated to the helping business survive and thrive across the entire Route 66 Corridor. We take preservation, protection and enhancement of the historic highway seriously. The history is well documented. Our goal is to accept that history, and move forward in this 21st century and beyond, using the most modern technology available to ensure future generations carry the work forward.

Please note: When submitting materials to this magazine for publication, it is understood and agreed you have full legal rights to its content. In the event any litigation ensues, advertiser agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Magazine from all claims (whether valid or invalid), sits, judgements, proceedings, losses, damages, costs and expenses, of any nature whatsoever (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) for which the Magazine may become liable by reason of Magazine’s publication of Advertiser’s advertising.

Please be advised that it is illegal to reproduce this magazine in part or in full without express, written consent from 66 The Mother Road, LLC. We have made every attempt throughout this magazine to make links active to websites and emails for your convenience. July/August 2011



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55 Also, check out Julian’s paintings at: 6

July/August 2011 Blog:

Now at Barnes & Noble and July/August 2011


Please go to to download songs, and learn more about Project Route 66.


July/August 2011

The Road Crew - the first recipients of the Bobby Troup award, presented at the 2011 Route 66 International Festival in Amarillo, Texas

July/August 2011


A look inside the pages of


By Jim H

Jim Hinckley

Painted Desert 10

July/August 2011

Photos contributed by Jim Hinckley


Hinckley Endee “...Route 66... an asphalt ribbon that connects our earliest history as a nation with the future.


hen the publisher at Voyageur Press asked me to write a book about the ghost towns of Route 66, there was only a slight hesitation before I agreed. All along the path of this storied highway are forlorn, dusty little towns where the resurgent interest that is breathing new life into America’s most famous highway came to late. A book would be an opportunity to give them a brief moment in the limelight. The primary criteria in selecting communities for inclusion in Ghost Towns of Route 66 were a history that predates the commissioning of the highway in 1926 and that either the realignment or the decommissioning of Route 66 was a contributing factor in their decline. However, there were exceptions such as Truxton, Arizona where Route 66 was the catalyst for its creation and demise. This would allow me to present Route 66 as the unique highway that it is, an asphalt ribbon that connects our earliest history as a nation with the future. It would also allow me to add greater depth to the Route 66 experience for those seeking its hidden charms. The true ghost town, such as Cotton Hill or Endee, is a relative rarity along Route 66. However, there are a multitude of interesting little towns with colorful histories that are now less than shadows of what they once July/August 2011


A look inside the pages

Continued from page 11

were. So, I exercised a bit of artistic license to include places like Oatman, McLean, and Galena.

Manuael Armijo and that the citizens were no longer under the rule of Mexican sovereignty.

As Route 66 is a relic from the era of the automobile there is a natural tendency to see its treasures and hidden gems from that perspective; the empty or refurbished motels, the tumble down service stations, the empty tourist traps. Often overlooked are the relics from an earlier time hidden behind Art Deco era facades or that are simply masquerading as unimposing adobe ruins.

In writing this book my perspective on Route 66 and the communities that line its shoulders was forever changed. How could I drive through the quiet streets of Daggett now that I knew it had an association with the family of Wyatt Earp and not see it in a different light? How could I bypass the empty place that is Romeroville in New Mexico now that I knew the story of Don Trinidad Romero and his marvelous home where he hosted presidents and dignitaries?

San Jose on the Pecos River in New Mexico is an unassuming village on the pre1937 alignment of Route 66 that is often overlooked by all but the most ardent Route 66 adventurer. Hidden in the shadows and weathered adobe walls is a community with origins that stretch back to 1794 and the plain little church there has cast its shadow across almost two centuries of westward migration, first on the Santa Fe Trail and then Route 66. William Anderson Thornton , a member of an American military expedition in 1885 described Tecolote in the New Mexico Territory as a village â€œâ€Śmade from unburnt clay and in appearances resemble unburnt brick kilns in the States. People poor and dirty. Flocks of sheep, goats, and cattle very numerous.â€? A marker in the plaza commemorates this little town was once a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. It was in this plaza, in August of 1846 during the Mexican-American War, that General Stephen Kearny announced he had replaced Governor 12

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Perhaps the only thing I enjoy more than the discovery is the sharing of that discovery with others. The research for this book was an endless series of discoveries but unfortunately, answers to questions asked do not always arrive in time and as a result discoveries made become puzzle Dead River pieces without context. From that perspective a book is never wholly complete. This book is no exception. Months after this book had been submitted to the publisher, I was deep into the next project when a newspaper archive pertaining to Wildorado was brought to my attention. So, all of the gory details about this wild town where the bank was robbed eight times in three years will have to wait for the next installment. A single name on the cover presents the illusion a book is the work of one person but this is never the case. With Ghost Towns of Route 66 it was the community that is Route 66 which made it possible.

My dearest friend and I contributed about ten percent of the photography to this project. The remainder of the illustrations represents the photographic artistry of Kerrick James and the generosity of Joe Sonderman. Debra Holden, Jerry McClanahan, Jim Ross, Dave Clark, and countless others ensured accuracy as well as provided direction. They also served as a sounding board and helped me stay on track. Now, all that remains is to hear the stories and memories about these forgotten places that I hope this book inspires.

*The debut for Ghost Towns of Route 66 was held at the 2011 International Route 66 Festival on June 9-12, 2011 in Amarillo, Texas.

Note from the publisher: Ghost Towns of Route 66 can be found at, or, along with Jim’s other books: Ghost Towns of Route 66, Ghost Towns of the Soutwest, Backroads of Arizona, and Route 66 Backroads.

Photos courtesy of Jim Hinckley July/August 2011


By John Springs


he first issue of 66 The Mother Road has been “put to bed” as they say, and you are now reading the July/August edition. I’d like to thank everyone that sent me emails asking for advice on their upcoming trips. It is my honor and pleasure to assist and provide materials so your experiences on Route 66 are memorable. I am not surprised, but very heartened by the number of requests and inquiries made by our overseas friends. Keep the questions coming! The response from readers to our request to make this an interactive magazine has been nothing short of amazing. Author Jim Hinckley has offered - and we quickly accepted to be a regular contributor with stories about cities, towns, and places along The Mother Road. You will also be seeing stories from other roadies detailing their experiences on the Road. We have more material than space so please be patient. Our focus is to promote small businesses on Route 66 and those “short stories” will appear as space permits. I would be remiss if I did not mention The Festival in Amarillo. While I had no idea how successful it would turn out to be, I did see firsthand how hard the festival committee worked to bring a great experience to all attendees. You’ll find a “nod” about Amarillo elsewhere in this issue. Judy and I made some amazing new friends, and are already looking forward to the next festival in California in 2012! Stay tuned for more details. The lessons that can be learned from Amarillo will be invaluable to the California Committee while they plan the 2012 Festival. It’s heartening to see total cooperation between the two committees. No one wins unless we all win, and Route 66 certainly won this year! Lastly, I was astounded at the quality and quantity of books about The Mother Road presented and debuted at the Festival. Check out our book and CD page that highlights some of those Route 66 publications, and information on where you can purchase them. Keep the emails coming, and I look forward to seeing you on The Mother Road!


July/August 2011

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For All Your Communication Needs: Newsletters, Brochures, Rack Cards, Flyers, Posters, Menus, Catalogs

Special discounts on printing for Route 66 businesses! P.O. Box 14243 • Palm Desert, CA

760-360-8341 July/August 2011


Rich Henry The Road’s own Energizer Bunny!


by Beverly Maxfield

ich Henry is one of those rare Americans who can boast that he truly is a native son of Route 66. His wife Linda, too. They grew up, met, and fell in love within the shadow of The Mother Road. Both of their fathers are celebrated inductees into the Illinois Hall of Fame, and Rich’s dad spent most of his career as a tractor trailer driver with a regular driving route that covered a third of the Road. To say his heart and soul is devoted to Route 66 would be an understatement. It is his entire life, his devotion to preserving the legend and ensuring the future of Route 66. You could call him the Road’s own ‘Energizer Bunny,’ owning and operating Henry’s Rabbit Ranch along with his daily duties as an insurance, license and title agent for the State of Illinois. His famed Rabbit Ranch is a favorite stop for visitors from around the world. No language barrier can keep Rich and his international visitors from communicating when they step in and greet his posse of rabbits; they just use the language of friendship. A variety of souvenirs, collectibles and amazing memorabilia are proudly displayed from road signs to an authentic gas station, similar to the Mobil station Rich worked at as a kid back in the sixties in North, Louis County on Bypass 66. This is a labor of love, a way of giving back and securing and sharing the treasures that remain from the past. It is a labor inspired by their fathers that experienced life along the Mother Road every day of their lives.


July/August 2011

“We bought the ground we are sitting on in 1988,” Rich began, “without even realizing that Route 66 bordered one side of it. It’s the 1930-1940 alignment alongside our ground. I was familiar with the newer, revised alignment of the Road over by Interstate 55.” It was Rich’s new next-door neighbor that first informed him that his property was bordered by the original road. “He was going on about ‘Route 66 right out here next to ya’, and I kept thinking he meant over by I-55. He got a little aggravated after awhile as he kept trying to explain to me the proximity I was to the original road. So, finally he took me by the arm, walked me over to the 66 side right here, and stamped his foot on the pavement. He looked at me and said, ‘right here Henry, this is Route 66!’” At that moment Rich realized he couldn’t be any luckier acquiring a property that shared a border with what was once the actual Road. In 1993, during a trip to California on church business, he would see bits and pieces of things about it as he travelled pertaining to Route 66. “I was thinking a lot about Route 66 and making an effort to look for Route 66 souvenirs here and there. I would just see little trinkets and things like that. I thought, you know, people would really like to see and experience a variety of things; interesting, oldtime memorabilia about Route 66. I said to my wife that I gotta do something with our new building.” Rich was already building a structure on their newly acquired site that was just going to be used for storing. “But I ended up building the old-time gas station, and created the shop for all the memorabilia and souvenirs.” By the early Nineties, Rich starting working with various suppliers and eventually built up his

stock, officially opening on Memorial Day Weekend in 1995, as the “Old Route 66 Emporium.” Things were going well at The Emporium until fate stepped in and changed everything after a visit Rich and Linda took to Las Vegas in 1999. They took a drive around the neighboring cities of Las Vegas, and had an interesting encounter in Seligman, Arizona with the late Juan Delgadillo, the legendary proprietor of the famous Snow Cap drive-in. Rich was so impressed that Juan knew all about him and his infamous Route 66 Emporium, and his collection of Campbell 66 tractor trailers. “He had read about me in a Route 66 article that had appeared not long before. I have to say it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my lifetime watching Juan interact with his customers.” Inspired by Juan and his colorful antics, “he did things I used to get in trouble for in high school,” he said. “I knew I wanted to incorporate all of the humor and wit that Juan exhibited to customers at our Emporium.” The Emporium was poised and ready to transform into Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. Rabbits had become “top of mind.” “About that time our youngest daughter was raising about 18 rabbits, all from the same family. I always loved and drove VW rabbits, so I got an idea. On the plane coming home, I thought… how about calling our place Henry’s Rabbit Ranch!” It took off from there. “We had up to 49 rabbits all at one time in recent years. Some we adopted, some are rescued and many are from the same family. They can live as long as 12 years,” Rich explained. “The are not as easy as taking care of a dog or a cat, they are more high-maintenance animals—or should Still going on page 18

July/August 2011


Rich Henry - he keeps on going ... I say ‘persons’, they will get mad at me if I say otherwise,” he laughed. “Big Red is our current official greeter.” Rich keeps a busy round-the-clock schedule taking care of his little “persons,” maintaining his successful insurance and title company, and offering a colorful, entertaining and informative stop along the Mother Road. “One of the most exciting things to think about is the next person that’s going to walk through the door.” Rich always sees more travelers than the year before. “I hope I can keep doing it as long as I’m alive. I guess I’m like the energizer bunny, I just keep going and going,” he laughed. Henry’s Rabbit Ranch is a must-see, must-experience stop along the Mother Road in Staunton, Illinois—especially to meet Big Red, the successor of Queen Montana, who reigned at the Ranch for almost 8 years. “Keep on Hopping!” 18

July/August 2011

Museums, Murals, Merchants & More!

Opening July, 2011! The Pontiac ~ Oakland Automobile Museum & Resource Center ~ Free Admission!

FREE Visitors Guide!

For information on attractions, tours, or retail space available in Downtown Pontiac, contact:

800-835-2055 • 815-844-5847 •

July/August 2011




July/August 2011

Placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Wagon Wheel is now proudly back on the Road after years, derailed, and slowly falling into disrepair.


ince 1935, the Wagon Wheel cabins were an integral part of history along the Mother Road in Cuba, Missouri. Robert and Margaret Martin were the original proprietors of the stop, a group of handsome cabins fashioned from stone and mortar with the help of a few local farmers. Placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Wagon Wheel is now proudly back on the Road after years, derailed, and slowly falling into disrepair. After World War II, the original Wagon Wheel cabins included a total of 14 rooms in three buildings, a gas station and café that was a favorite of locals and tourists alike. All of the buildings on the property had been sold to two different couples, and the property was later split up when John and Winifred Mathis purchased the cabins, while William and Sade Mae Pratt acquired the café and gas station. Under this period of ownership, John Mathis renamed their new acquisition, the Wagon Wheel Motel, and came up with the design for the famous neon sign, that not only branded the motel, but solidified it into the Route 66 landscape as a treasured landmark. Anyone, who has either burned rubber or simply meandered down the road to take in the sights, has appreciated the welcome illumination of the Wagon Wheel Motel sign that just seemed to signal that this was the perfect place to stop for a comfortable night’s stay. In 1963, another couple, Pauline and Hallie Roberts, became proprietors of the motel and opened the

Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe, a popular stop in its own right, that thrived until it closed with Hallie’s passing in 1980. Pauline later married Harold Armstrong, who helped her manage the hotel until she passed away in 2003. Following Harold’s death in 2008, was when current owner/ operator Connie Echols made an offer to his heir that forever changed her life, and that of the famous motel that was sadly now a faded, 20-dollar-a-night ramshackle stop along the Road. Connie took ownership of the property in 2009 with a mission and a promise to herself: to restore the Wagon Wheel Motel to its original identity, retaining all the charm of yesteryear with few updated conveniences and comforts that are expected by today’s traveler. She had a few construction teams assist in a lot of the work that she actually did herself. “I did a lot of woodwork refinishing for one thing,” she began, “refinishing a lot of the doors throughout the property. I had finished until I was ‘finished’… I said to myself after completing the last one, ‘that’s the last door I’m ever refinishing in my life.’” It has been a challenge, but a true labor of love for Connie, restoring this historic stop so it may be enjoyed for generations to come. She had experience remodeling and builing homes in the past, so when she purchased the property she knew she could make it work. July/August 2011 She was well versed in a21

lot of the basics of construction, and knew just how to apply it all to repurpose the Wagon Wheel. Her objective, above all, was to save, restore and expose as many of the original fixtures as possible— keeping with the original style and overall essence of the property, while adhering to the official Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Restoration. “All of the rooms maintain the original footprint, with the exception of the bathrooms that were enlarged. The originals had these little bitty sinks and showers,” she said with a laugh. “We made three rooms into suites, and kept as much as we could of the original hardwood floors in many of the rooms. The place was in such bad shape when I bought it. Harold Armstrong had solely continued to oversee the Wagon Wheel following his wife’s death, and didn’t do anything to maintain the upkeep. People were just coming and going, paying their $20 dollars for a night,” she explained. Connie didn’t realize the gravity of the amount of work that would be required when she purchased the property from

Harold’s son. “It had all of the old galvanized plumbing; lots of concrete. There was nine inches of concrete that we had to jackhammer through in some of the bathrooms. The roofs were still good, so that was one thing, and the foundations were ok.” A lot of the basic architectural details were intact, and in some cases, covered over during quick and cheap remodeling jobs over the years. Interesting 22

July/August 2011

elements of design and function were revealed as they worked their way through the process. “There was a rock chimney flue that had been totally covered up and hidden that we found in the room that is now my office,” Connie continued. “There were five windows completely covered over also. The main fireplace had been hidden by a low ceiling down to about 8 feet, and it had a big black insert over it that was covered in soot, which hid its true beauty for sure.” She uncovered many mysteries throughout the process of stripping and repurposing, “there was a place with a hole in it in the middle with electric wiring for a clock or something like that. Wonder what that was?” It was also a challenge keeping a watchful eye on the construction crews to make sure they would adhere to Connie’s wish of ‘keeping it original.’ “A lot of construction people want to replace and make things new. I had to make sure they didn’t tear anything out that I wanted to keep. There were a lot of decisions to be made—to replace or just leave it alone. I got a lot of advice along the way, let me tell ya!” she laughed. The Wagon Wheel was set for its re-opening just in time to welcome the three-wheelers congregating for April’s Spyder Fest gathering. “We were still making the beds as the Spyders were rolling in,” she laughed, “all 350 of them! I had some great people helping me out at the end, so we got everything done

“ ... I made an offer on the Wagon Wheel and didn’t really think they’d take it, and when they did I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!’” Connie Echols in time. I guess if I didn’t have that as kind of a \ deadline, I probably would still be working on this!” Connie also incorporated her successful gift shop business into the remodeled motel, offering guests a diverse selection of collectibles and must-haves from designer purses and jewelry, to Harley Davidson— and of course—Route 66 memorabilia and souvenirs. “I used to have a floral and gift shop that was right

down the street, so I moved it up here when I took over the Wagon Wheel,” she said. “I would drive by here all the time and would think how great it would be to have all this parking. I had a crowded space, you see, where my shop was before, so I appreciated this spot where I could have all this parking and fix up this cute little motel, too.” Everything has been ‘so far, so good’ following the re-opening of Connie’s true original. Guests have been arriving from around the world, including famous Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly, who is working on a Route 66 series for a show in the UK. “I had three guys from England visiting right after

he was here, and they were sure excited about it. They even took pictures where he signed the guest book. I didn’t realize at the time how famous he is, or I would have been more of a picture hound while he was here,” she laughed. With the restoration complete, Connie says she still has things she wants to do, “I have a lot of ideas, just a few things I just want to do myself.” Visitors may be seeing some lovely new gardens around the property in the future to

enhance their Wagon Wheel Motel experience. “It was funny; I made an offer on the Wagon Wheel and didn’t really think they’d take it, and when they did, I thought ‘oh my gosh!’” Everyone who thinks back and remembers the hard times at the Wagon Wheel will now certainly drive by and say “oh my gosh” when they witness the rebirth of the old Wagon Wheel cabins. The ‘Big Wheel’ keeps on turnin’… Connie will always see to that.

Photos provided by Connie Echols

July/August 2011



July/August 2011

KANSAS Getting Up to Date in Kansas - a Visit With Renee Charles


by Beverly Maxfield

ven though only 13.4 miles composes Kansas’ contribution to Route 66, it casts a mighty and indelible footprint that steps right up to “4 Women on the Route,” a must-see, mustexperience tourist stop in Galena at the northern end of the Road. It’s where the famous “Tow Tater” truck resides, the inspiration for the little tow truck seen in Pixar’s successful Cars (and now Cars 2) feature films. “4 Women on the Route” offers an incomparable experience back in time with a 1930s-style gas station, and authentic 1950s diner, grilling everything from juicy burgers to Polish Sausage served with pride and a smile. There’s a fun gift shop with plenty of Route 66 gear to take back for friends and family including goodies graced with the face of Tow Tater. Renee Charles, one of the “4 Women” and President of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association, recently shared the beginning of their successful chapter and some of the restoration projects currently going on around Galena. “’Four Women on the Route’ was just a building my sister and I were going to clean up and turn into a Farmer’s Market,” she said. “One day a gentleman stopped by from Carterville and mentioned the truck that had been there. He was all curious about the truck, so it got me interested, too. One day I asked Larry Courtney, the owner of the building, about it.” Larry had once sold the building, and the tow truck was part of the transaction. When he ended up buying the building back, the truck had disappeared. “But we were lucky to be able to locate it and bring it back here where it belongs,” Renee said. “We weren’t sure it was the actual truck that had been here, the inspiration for the movie, so we asked Michael Wallis.” Wallis is a famed speaker, biographer, author and Route 66 historian. He confirmed that was it. He said, ‘That’s the truck, and you can tell ‘em the sheriff said so!’ It was funny because I didn’t know until then that Michael was the actual voice of the sheriff in the movie. So, the business here just escalated from there,” she laughed. “We have so many people coming by these days, mostly international, that stop and get a picture by the sign and the truck.” Melba Rigg, another member of the “Four Women” was recently interviewed by Pixar Pictures. “They asked how we felt about the movie inspiring people to visit, and what all has happened along Route 66 since the first movie came out,” she said.

“So it will surely be a busy summer,” predicted Renee. As for the various restoration projects and changes around and about Kansas/Route 66:“We are currently applying for the historic byway—the Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway which runs from Galena at the state line through Riverton, through Baxter Springs, and then onto the Kansas/Oklahoma state line. Galena itself has a main street project going on, made possible with a grant from the CDBG, Community Development Block Grant. We’ve got the grant for the first part of the project so we can go ahead and restore Main Street from 5th Street to 8th Street; the second part of the grant will be used to restore 5th Street to Front Street. The entire area is in the middle of restoration and gentrification, putting a fresh face on Kansas/Route 66. Renee added: “There are a lot of people coming to the area and buying buildings and getting projects underway. Baxter Springs nearby is seeing a lot of upgrades, too. Since the tornado, things have slowed down, but in spite of it all, the Mother Road Marathon (held in Joplin, Missouri, just 7 miles from Galena), will still be taking place. Galena is also working on getting a sign out by our historic district, near the Front Street Bridge. The bridge is already on the Historic Register, but the sign will point out the significance of that district.” Renee also wants to express her gratitude to other businesses and visitors who refer people their way. “It really helps us, and our community.”

Plan to explore the charming 13.4 miles that run through Kansas where Tow Tater, one of Hollywood’s most popular stars is always ready for a photo opportunity.

Cars 2 was released on June 24th.

July/August 2011


Harley & Annabelle Russell

No Mediocre Battle Lies Ahead on the Road to Recovery

by Beverly Maxfield

doing the best we can. It’s a living hell, an absolute nightmare.” Annabelle currently has 13 months left of an aggressive 15-month Chemo treatment. “What it’s done has set our whole life on hold,” he said, “Brought everything to an absolute standstill.” But even during these darkest times, Harley and Annabelle remain unabated, not allowing “The Big C” to even try to derail their future plans. They were putting money back into the business, and adding upgrades to the house until the cancer was discovered. “We were getting geared up for a big Route 66 season and were thoroughly booked,” Harley stated. “We’ve had over 300 tours a year for the last several years, and had to turn tours away that wanted to come. We had just finished putting up all the signs on our house, our ‘Redneck Castle.’ The magazine’s own The house is completely covJohn Springs had a conversation ered up with signs both inside with The Mediocre Music Makers and out. We had all that, and recently, where they added tons of signs to the side reminisced, shared and touched of our building,” Harley paused on a serious subject, the cancer to add, “Please encourage that Annabelle is currently Photo courtesy of Frank Romeo the tour groups to take the folks by here fighting. As many of us know, when the because we’ve got it all ready for them to see.” It is person you love is suffering, you’re suffering, too. As gratifying to know that the Sandhills Curiosity Shop they spoke over the phone with John, Annabelle sat continues to delight visitors even though Harley and on the bed alongside Harley with her ear pressed to Annabelle are out of town for her cancer treatments. the phone. Harley did most of the talking, but there were times when Annabelle’s voice was heard, “What we tried to do in Erick, was make an attraction clear and bright—the times when the conversation to bring tourist and tour groups in to town even if we focused on her beloved Harley. The love and weren’t going to be there”, Harley says. “There’s devotion between these two just brings a lump to going to be a group next Thursday from England, the throat. and The Mother Road Rally was just by last Tuesday.” He was pleased to say that what he envisioned is “On March 2, Annabelle had surgery for ovarian actually happening. “We really appreciate it, that’s cancer,” Harley began, “We’re working with it, and what we were hoping for. We put everything we had

nsanity at its Finest” is what Harley and Annabelle Russell, aka The Mediocre Music Makers, offer their Route 66 guests who come to Erick, Oklahoma from far and wide. They just have to see it for themselves. It’s a phrase that not only brands their Sandhills Curiosity Shop, but offers a sneak preview of things to come. Anticipate anything and expect everything in the oldest brick building in the town. The Russell’s’ shop is brimming with amazing artwork, memorabilia, musical instruments, and indescribable curiosities. Arguably, the most interesting musical instruments you are sure to find are Harley and Annabelle themselves, strumming away on guitars and serenading guests with impromptu aplomb.

26 26

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into that attraction. What this cancer did was stop us right in our tracks.” The pair has been in Oklahoma City since Feb. 28. “We’re staying with my parents in their bedroom, and Annabelle is sitting here by me with the phone by her ear,” he said.

way, to find out how her blood work came out.”

John asked Annabelle if they really have an idea of the gravity of her plight, how it’s literally “gone around the world”, drawing concern and prayers from everyone that has ever come in contact with them, or even heard of them. She said she just wanted to thank everyone for the support from all over the planet.

Harley continued, “There’s so many side-effects of Chemo and one of them is to bring the white blood cell count down, and when that happens, you can’t be around any people, you can’t be around anything, people that even cough, but her test was fine today, and so we’re going in for Chemo tomorrow.” Harley said, “We have a total of 15 months of Chemo, and we’re at about 13 months left.”

Harley continued, “We don’t know when we’ll be back in Erick, we don’t know if we’ll ever be able to go back to work. We just don’t know what’s going to transpire. All we’re trying to do now is get Annabelle back to decent health, but we sure do appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers.” He went on to explain Annabelle’s condition at length, and thoughts on an encouraging prognosis. “Oh yes, we’re encouraged. Our CA125 test started off at about 480 and that’s how they measure the size of the tumor. It went to over 600, but then it came down to 170, and on May 26th, it came down to 95.4. So that’s a good sign – that’s how they measure the progress on how the Chemo is working on the tumor. That’s good news.” One thing that has her doctors baffled is the fluid that the cancer develops. It builds up in Annabelle’s abdomen, causing excessive swelling. “They had to drain the fluid 9 or 10 times, getting 4-5 liters of fluid each time,” he said, “so they really don’t know what to do about it yet. That’s the one thing that’s kind of a sticky thing, but the CA125 count has been coming down and we hope it that continues.” Harley tirelessly handles the daily regimen of caring for Annabelle’s special needs, a 24/7 labor of love. “I get up around 4am to get things started, and Annabelle gets up about 5:15am to get ready to head to the hospital. We get there at 6:50 to get the blood work done, and then it’s on to the Chemo center. We just got off the phone with them, by the

It’s a concern if the test reveals the white blood cell count is not high enough, as that would put a halt to her Chemo treatments.

John asked Harley how he was holding up, as it would take a toll on a person when your heart, emotions and the physical aspects of constant care interplay throughout each day. “It’s like I said, it’s a living nightmare is what it is, it’s hell. There’s no way to describe it, especially when we’ve been working our butts off at the house and the shop, just getting everything ready for another big summer. Then this hit us.” Annabelle was diagnosed on Feb. 28th. Harley recounted the events that led up to the news of Annabelle’s illness. “It was just three days before Annabelle went into the hospital, that she was helping me hang signs on the back of the building. There’s a cotton gin sign that’s about 5’ x 4’, and weighs about 75 pounds, and that’s the last sign me and Annabelle hung. “In 4 days she was in Oklahoma City, and 2 days later she had surgery.” Annabelle described the onset of her symptoms: “Ya, my stomach started swelling up and feeling bad. I said to Harley, ‘this isn’t good, I have to go to the doctor.’ And so that’s what we did.” Harley continued the story, “Actually she had some trouble back in the summer when we were doing the tour groups. We went to the doctor and he gave her some medicine, and we thought that was all there was to it, but she had to eat small meals because she kept filling up. What it actually came down to

July/August 2011


was that she had a cancerous tumor.” With his spirit seemingly unbroken, Harley added: “So far we’re into it for—we don’t know how many thousands of dollars. Medicare Part A has paid all of it but about $60,000, and we don’t know how much we’ll be into it—it just keeps going up. We’re settin’ here doin’ the best we can. We’ve got our place set-up as an attraction even though we’re not there, and we’d like for folks to know—the tour groups— that it’s an honor to have them come by and take photos. They are also welcome to go over to the Red Neck Castle and take their photos over there. Both places have changed a lot over the last few years. I can’t let anybody in, ‘cause I don’t have anyone there to let people go in, but the outside is still pretty cool to take pictures of, and the tour groups can still get a good idea of what we have.” John steered the conversation back to the happy times when the couple first met. Harley said they had been in Erick since April, 1986. “Erick is my hometown,” Harley said. “There was a guy that did a documentary about us, but I went there from San Antonio, Texas after I had gotten divorced. So me an Annabelle met right there at that shop. It’s where we first met.” Annabelle’s voice lightened perceptively as she chimed in with, “Yep, that’s where it first happened. That’s it, ya.” Harley obtained the building from his parents, Tthey gave my brother some land that they had, and they gave us the house and the shop. We actually started out with a health food store. Then we did music lessons, and we got so much more than we do that we don’t even show people. Annabelle has more original Christian tunes than we can count. We haven’t actually been able to share those with anybody because when people come they want to


July/August 2011

see the ‘Insanity at Its Finest’ show. So that’s what we give ‘em. It’s all theatrical, that’s what we do. When we’re together and off work we’re two completely different types of people.” He continued, explaining how he equates success: “If you’re in show business, in the entertainment business, I don’t care if it’s on Route 66 or Highway 83, if you don‘t have something to show people, especially tour groups that’s goin’ down the road, ‘cause the competition can be very, very stiff, and if you don’t have something to show em, you’re not going to make it. If you’re not willing to work nearly all of your waking hours, then you better be able to think about it while you’re sleeping, too. That’s what it takes to make it in the tourism business. And most people aren’t willing to do that.” John asked him if there are any videos he would recommend for fans old and new to look up. “The ones to see are where the tour groups are in the shop. We got one of those with the people from overseas, and how much they enjoyed their time in the shop. We’ve got one from Trond Moberg’s videographer, and I called the beautiful Norwegian women to come up by me and Annabelle for a picture and the photographer took off his clothes, down to his skivvies, and went up there and jumped in the middle of these women with a Route 66 sign. Another one features Annabelle flirting with some of the guys from the Scandinavian Route 66 Riders, and that’s called ‘Tour Leader Extraordinaire.’” Don’t miss these epics on Harley assures us there’s more to their story than you could ever possibly get into a magazine. “We’ve got enough for a complete movie!” he laughed. “Our story in Erick over the past 25 years is a story that would make your head spin. A few years back, P. J. Lassek with the Tulsa World wrote a book entitled, ‘Oklahoma Curiosities.’ Somebody told her

to come out and see us, so she did and we had a great, great time. After she wrote the book, The Tulsa World asked her to name the Top 10 Intriguing Places and she put us at Number 1!” Harley said P.J. paid him one of the biggest compliments he’s ever had. P.J. asked him if he was theatrically trained! Harley’s response, “Ya, in the theatre of life!” Harley and Annabelle will remain in Oklahoma City for the next 13 months as she continues the Chemo treatments. “We do have some supporters in Erick watching our shop, and we really appreciate the visitors taking photographs and keeping an eye on it as well,” Harley said. Harley and Annabelle may bill themselves as those Mediocre Music Makers, but we tend to think of them as those “Magnificent Memory Makers.” They are part of our Route 66 family, and when family needs something, you rally to help. When John asked Harley what we could do to help, his first and only thought was Annabelle. “Our thing is to try to get Annabelle well, and that soaks up everything we’ve got to be able to do that. There ain’t no time for anything else.”

“Route 66 persists not just because of all the natural and created attractions along its winding path but because of the best resource of all — the people of the Mother Road. We are an extended family and two of our most precious and revered members are Harley and Annabelle Russell, the colorful Mediocre Music Makers of Erick, Oklahoma. This dynamic couple has done so much for the old road through their entertaining and often zany performances delivered with much love and passion from the Old Curiosity Shop, one of the most visited venues on the entire highway. Now in their time of need, I ask for all of you who care about our beloved highway to keep Harley and his dear Annabelle in your thoughts and prayers. The Route 66 Alliance has raised substantial funds for Annabelle’s medical care and we will continue to do so.” Michael Wallis

Harley and Annabelle asked John to be certain to tell people on Route 66, and all over the world “Give them the best of our love!”

We are providing Harley and Annabelle’s address here so you can drop a card or a donation in the mail to them. They’ve entertained people from all over the world, bringing fun and joy into peoples lives. Let them know you appreciate it. And keep these “Magnificent Memory Makers” in your prayers.

Harley & Annabelle Russell PO Box 121 Erick, OK 73645

Harley & Annabelle; Suzanne & Michael Wallis

Photos courtesy of Frank Romeo, Frank Romeo Photography. All rights are reserved. Frank Romeo Photography Visit Frank at Facebook - and Like his page” http://

July/August 2011

29 29

by Beverly Maxfield

McQueen was King at Auction... …Vintage Iron Sets World Record!

sold in 1984 at McQueen’s estate auction in Las Vegas. He passed away in 1980 from cancer at the age of 50. There were two subsequent owners before Vintage Iron in Miami, Oklahoma obtained it for their collection. Chris Martin, the museum’s manager, said the bike’s worth today would be around $7,000. “The bike went way above our expectations at the auction, setting a world record. The sale was world-wide news.” A percentage of the proceeds will be donated by Vintage Iron to charities including Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), and F.A.I.T.H. Riders, a Christian motorcycle ministry.

The iron was hot at the world-class Bonham and Butterfields auction in Carmel, California, so hot that the Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum’s offering—actor Steve McQueen’s 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross Bike—made headlines around the world. Presale estimates for the cov“The Bonham and Butterfields eted bike were estimated auction is also a show, so we at $50,000 to $70,000, got to see some really great and it went out the door stuff,” Martin said. “They had for an unprecedented the late Rollie Free’s famous bid of $144,500. The bike cycle there that his son had was the latest in a line tracked down. It took him of big-bore motocross years to find it.” Free was models, famous for its impressive handling and Steve McQueen’s 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross Bike a pioneer daredevil racer known for his 1948 speed record set at the supreme power. Actor Bonneville Salt Flats. The indelible photograph McQueen, referred to often as “The King of of Free, clad in a bathing suit and stretched out Cool”, was an avid off-road enthusiast who across the bike, is described as the most famous collected a number of bikes in his day, and image in motorcycling. this particular one was the crown jewel. It first 30 July/August 2011

OKLAHOMA Also offered at auction with McQueen’s Husqvarna, were selected pieces of the actor’s personal items including furnishings and trophies. “There were a few things we kept, so you’ll still see a few of Steve’s memorabilia at the museum,” Martin added. “We did go ahead and attempted to bid on a few bikes to bring back, but didn’t get any this time around. But we are adding new things in all the time, and still working on some of our remodeling right now. We’ve got the new Indian bike room in the back and have expanded our Evel Knievel collection a bit.” The day I was speaking to Chris Martin, he was expecting a visit from world record-holder and daredevil rider, Trigger Gumm, who is sending a bike to the museum (see photo). “It’s a cool bike, one of his crash bikes, he said. We also have his shirt, pants and helmet used for the jump.” “We are also in the process of possibly getting an Andy Griffith bike too, and hope to have it in here soon.” The two-day road trip to Carmel also afforded Martin the opportunity to stop by a few of the Road’s notable destinations, including the Route 66 Museum in Barstow,

California that he had never visited before. “It was great seeing places I had wanted to see, and meet people we had just talked to on the phone.” Martin said the area is gearing up for the Buffalo Bike run on July 15 and 16, the annual motorcycle poker rally featuring motorcycles, music, and an opportunity to camp out with fellow bike enthusiasts. Riders from across the country come out to participate for a chance to win big cash payouts; receiving five cards at designated checkpoints as they head through the Ozark foothills and Grand Lake countryside area. “We’re one of the last stops they make along the way,” Martin added. If you’re a memory collector, make the Route 66 Vintage Iron Museum one of your stops along the way this season. Check out an amazing collection of memorabilia on display including the Daredevil Hall of Fame, experience the charm of a full-scale 50’s-style gas station, and get set to peruse their unique gift shop featuring a wide selection of collector T-shirts, DVDs, vintage signs and various Route 66 items. The Vintage Iron is hot... come see what's cool.

Route 66 Vintage iron Motorcycle Museum 128 S. Main St., Miami, OK 74354 918.542.6170 July/August 2011



The 2011 International Route 66 Festival was a huge success in the eyes of both the Fesitval committee and the people that attended. “We had the best positive outcome by linking the state and local Route 66 Associations,” said Eric W. Miller, Director of Communications for the Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council. Additionally, he continues “... the primary goal of the local publicity (radio, television, print, online, and social media) was to attract locals to our stretch of Historic Route 66. By the look of the crowd (estimated around 4000), that, too, was successful!” And, not only did the locals show up, but people came from all over the country, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Advice for California? Start planning early, and recruit lots of willing volunteers! Plan now to become part of the Route 66, 2012 excitement!


July/August 2011


815 East Route 66 Blvd. Tucumcari, NM 88401 575-461-9849

July/August 2011


KINGMAN, ARIZONA By Jim Hinckley, author of Ghost Towns of Route 66, Ghost Towns of the Soutwest, Backroads of Arizona, and Route 66 Backroads


lines but even with cessation of hostilities it continued to serve as an integral component in providing the stability needed for the development of mines in the Cerbat Mountains. Before relocation of the subjugated Hualapai Indians to the reservation along the Colorado River, the fort served as the headquarters for the temporary reservation, a stopping point on their journey west.

egend has it that people who stopped to wait for the wind to quit blowing founded Kingman and everyone else just decided to make the best of it after breaking down there. All myths and legends aside, almost everyone who ever motored west, or east, on Route 66 stopped in Kingman. But long before there was a Route 66, or Kingman, or the railroad, this was a place to stop on the travels to somewhere. There is evidence to suggest the first European association with the oasis at Beale Springs northwest of present day Kingman occurred during the explorations of Father Garces in 1776. The namesake for the springs, Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale, camped there in 1857 during the survey expedition made famous for its use of camels authorized by the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, the same man who would assume the role of president for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. In the years that followed, the springs became a vital stop for travelers on the Beale Wagon Road as well as the Mohave Prescott Toll Road that connected the Colorado River at Hardyville and Fort Mohave with the territorial capital of Prescott and Fort Whipple. The strategic importance of these roads to the development of northwestern Arizona, and the fact that the Hualapai Indians also depended on the springs for survival, led to the establishment of Fort Beale at this location in 1871. The resultant wars with the Hualapai Indians during this period placed the fort on the front 34

July/August 2011

Today, the site of Fort Beale, and the stunning mesas and gardens of stone that embrace it, are at the center of one of Kingman’s best kept secrets, a series of hiking and bicycle trails ranging from moderate to strenuous. In 1883, Conrad Shenfield, a railroad contractor, established a construction camp southwest of Beale Springs at the present town site of Kingman. Beale Springs and Cottonwood Springs in nearby Johnson Canyon were the primary sources of water for Shenfield Railroad Camp and enabled the little encampment to continue the tradition of serving as an oasis of sorts for travelers. With completion of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad through the camp, and establishment of a station and siding, the town site was renamed Kingman in deference to Lewis Kingman, the railroad location engineer. Its central location to the mining camps of the Cerbat \Mountains, as well as the vast cattle ranches in the Hualapai and Sacramento Valleys, and

access to the railroad made Kingman a key supply and shipping center in northwest Arizona as well as a stop for those on their way to somewhere else. This prominence was a determining factor in the decision of the Arizona Territorial Legislature to make Kingman the new Mohave County seat in 1887. Cerbat and Mineral Park had had their turn but Kingman was now the rising star. Its central location as a supply center, and the providing of amenities for travelers, allowed Kingman to thrive with a diversified economy that allowed it to weather the economic storms of the1890s and the panic of 1907. As a result, Kingman was in a perfect position to capitalize on the tide of tourists traveling by automobile after establishment of the National Old Trails Highway in 1913. However, before Kingman could reap the rewards of tourism by automobile it first had to make itself known as an oasis in the desert to the modern breed of adventurer, the automobilist. To that end, Kingman sent a contingent of delegates to the National Old Trails Highway convention in 1913 and in so doing set the stage for the creation of an American legend, Route 66. Initially the National Old Trails Road Association and the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Association joined forces as the National Old Roads Oceanto-Ocean Highway Association to avoid wasted

resources of finances and time. The common link in their endeavor was the agreement to use the section of the Trail to Sunset that followed the route from Santa Fe to Springerville in Arizona and then south to Phoenix with a crossing of the Colorado River at Yuma. While this association promoted its route as the southwest link in the proposed national transcontinental highway a new organization composed of business leaders from Kingman and Needles, California, and later from Barstow and Victorville, initiated a concerted effort for consideration of an alternative route. Their proposal was that the highway should follow the tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad from Albuquerque, across northern Arizona and the deserts of California. Bolstering the proponents claims of this being a more practical route were the availability of services provided by the Fred Harvey Company along the railway, the proximity of attractions, such as the Grand Canyon, that would foster development of tourism related service industries, and the amenities currently available in Kingman as well as Needles. To solidify their position, a meeting of Mohave County Good Road Boosters gathered in Needles in the fall of 1912 to develop a cohesive list of benefits for presentation at the second convention of the National Old Trails Road Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Association scheduled for April 1913. The primary spokesmen at the convention July/August 2011


were G.D. Hutchison, vice president of the California contingent, and John R. Whiteside, vice president of the Arizona contingent from Kingman that had hosted several leading national candidates as well as representatives from the Arizona Good Roads Association in that city. The arguments made were persuasive and when coupled to volumes of evidence attesting to the quality of the roads on the northern route, the constitution was amended to adopt the northern path as the official route of the National Old Trails Highway west from Santa Fe. Promotion of the route commenced immediately. Additional publicity came with events such as the Desert Classic “Cactus Derby” automobile race, featuring Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield, that followed this course from Los Angeles to Ashfork, Arizona in 1914 with Kingman designated as a stop, and the publishing of a book in 1916 by Emily Post that chronicled her adventure from coast to coast by automobile. The railroad, the National Old Trails Highway, and later Route 66, led to the creation of an extensive tourism related service industry in Kingman. In addition, in 1928 with establishment of Port Kingman the city became a designated stop for the Transcontinental Air Transport, a pioneering passenger air service that would become TWA. Vestiges of Kingman’s role in meeting the needs of travelers for more than a century still abound. The 1927 edition of the Hotel, Garage, Service Station, and AAA Directory 36

July/August 2011

lists the Beale and Brunswick hotels as recommended lodging. Both structures are still existent though closed as of this writing. The AAA Directory of Motor Courts and Cottages for 1940 lists five auto courts; Akron Hotel Cottages, Arcadia Court, El Trovatore, Gypsy Garden, and Wal-A-Pai. In A Guide Book To Highway 66 by Jack Rittenhouse published in 1946, additional auto courts are listed; Williams, Kit Carson Motel, Stony Wold, Bungalow, White Rock, Lambert’s, Gateway Village, Bell’s, Stratton’s, Kingman, and Challenger. The AAA Western Accommodations Directory for 1954-1955 adds to these the Branding Iron, Hillcrest Motel, and the Loma Vista Motel. Not listed in these guides is the Siesta, Coronado Court, Harvey House, or Commercial Hotel. Surprisingly, a number of the facilities that made Kingman an oasis for travelers on the legendary double six are still existent even though they are closed, serve as weekly or monthly apartments, or have been converted for other uses. Among these are the Siesta, 1929, Allen Bell’s Flying A service station, now Lomeli’s Garden Arts, Bell’s, El Trovatore, 1939, White Rock, 1935, and the Pony Soldier Motel, now the Route 66 Motel. Other survivors include the Hillcrest Motel, Hill Top Motel, 1954, TraveLodge, now the Ramblin’ Rose, Branding Iron Motel, now apartments, 1953, Arcadia Lodge, 1938, Jade Restaurant, 1951, Lockwood Café, Casa Linda Café, 1933, and Old Trails Garage, 1914.

World War II added a new dimension to Kingman’s role as the place where people stopped on their way to somewhere and transformed it into a place that folks went to on purpose. With establishment of the Kingman Army Airfield along Route 66, and the supportive infrastructure as well as auxiliary bases, a new breed of warriors were trained before sweeping the scourge of Nazism from Europe. More than a few would return to make Kingman their home. A flood of construction crews, new recruits arriving by rail, and airmen from more than a half dozen countries effectively doubled the population of Kingman in less than two years. At its peak, this airfield became one of the largest flexible gunnery schools in the nation. A modern industrial park has erased many remnants from this now forgotten chapter in American history but scattered here and there are haunting reminders; a foundation there, an old hangar here, and one of the last World War II era control towers in the nation that casts its long shadow over a monument to one of the worst military training accidents up to that time. But the best kept secret is nestled amongst the modern and the forgotten, a repository of treasures that preserves this history for future generations, the Kingman Army Airfield Museum housed in an original airplane repair facility. Celebrities also made their stops in Kingman on their road to fame and fortune. In 1914, Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield made a pit stop here during the grueling Desert Classic “Cactus Derby� race.

Tom Devine, father to the character actor Andy Devine, owned the Beale Hotel. Front Street became Andy Devine Avenue in the late 1950s during a commemorative celebration as part of the television program, This Is Your Life long after Andy had moved west to bigger and better things. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard married at the Methodist church in Kingman in 1938. They drove Route 66 to Oatman where they spent their first night as husband and wife. Charles Lindbergh selected Kingman as the first stop between Los Angeles and Winslow for his fledgling airline service in 1928. He frequently stayed at the Beale Hotel during construction of the airfield, Port Kingman, and Amelia Earhart joined him for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Times change, the railroad replaced the creaking wagons over the Beale Wagon Road and Route 66 replaced the railroad. Then I-40 replaced Route 66. But in Kingman, that iconic highway, Route 66 continues to play its role in making the community an oasis for those traveling the Main Street of America or a haven for those seeking the land of new beginnings. In Kingman, it is the asphalt link that ties the distant past with the future.

Photos provided courtesy of Jim Hinckley

July/August 2011


California 22nd Annual

September 15-18, 2011 Downtown San Bernardino, CA

California’s Hottest Cruisin’ Classic Car Show


Pre-Registration: $70 Per Vehicle Registration is open to vehicles from 1900-1974. Any year Corvette. Limited to 1,700 entries

Pre-Registration ends August 1, 2011 • 4-day Reserved Parking With Assigned Space • Participant Credentials • Official Event T-Shirt • Commemorative License Plate

Event Activities


To The Public For More Information

• Cruisin’ Awards • Contest: Neon Light, Poker Run, Open Header, Model Car • Celebrities & Legendary Guests • Entertainment & Music • Hundreds of Vendors

Call: 909.388.2934 Or Go To: Event Sponsored By:


July/August 2011




July/August 2011


Photo submitted by Mike Curtis, Brevard, NC I took my first trip from Chicago to Santa Monica on the Mother Road in 2007. I immediately turned around and took my second trip from Santa Monica to Chicago because I felt like I had missed so much. This abandoned gas station in McLean, Texas just really struck me at the time I shot it. I took pictures of hundreds of abandoned gas stations across Route 66, but this one particularly spoke to me. Apparently it has spoken to others as well. Of the hundreds (thousands?) of abandoned gas stations across the Mother Road, imagine my surprise at seeing a picture of this very same station in Michael Campanelli's "Route 66: A Photo Journal" (page 69). My surprise turned to shock when reading David Wickline's "Images of 66" and seeing the same station again (page 170)! I'm not a photographer in the league of either of these two gentlemen, but if you take enough pictures, something good is bound to happen!

We asked for submissions, and we got them! If a photo “speaks to you”, send it to us, and it just might get featured like Mike’s! Tell us who you are, and where you took the photo. Go to our web site, www.66TheMotherRoad, and click on the “Submit Content” button.

66 The Mother Road July/August, 2011 Edition  

66 The Mother Road July/August 2011 Edition

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