This Mother’s Day, I visited Doolittle and Sleeper, traveled to Cuba, enjoyed Bourbon, drove the Devil’s Elbow, and ended the day with family and friends in the St. Louis area. I was also “busted” for drugs today.
Happy Mother’s Day. I spent Mother’s Day on the Mother Road. My last full day of Route 66, as I get off the Route in St. Louis.
I backtracked on Route 66 from Springfield to Joplin, then took the interstate back to Springfield where I rejoined Route 66.
Downtown Springfield offered the Shrine Mosque – a great old building, the Landers Theatre, and some great old signs. The Gailey Drugs sign photo is one of my favorites as I don’t believe I have ever before captured such a blue sky with a camera.
The farmland west of Springfield is pretty and mighty green. Nice hills. Halltown had some nice old buildings as did Phelps and Avilla.
In Carthage, I kept seeing a variety of really cool pole-mounted signs advertising various businesses that were apparently put up by something called Foxfire Farms. I have subsequently done some Internet research to learn that I missed a great detour to a place called Red Oak II.
Here’s the story I found through a search engine:
“Sometime around 1974, world-famous folk artist Lowell Davis, the “Grandfather of Rural art”, and wife Charlotte, bought a corn patch just outside of historic Carthage, Missouri, and close to the famous “Mother “Road”, Route 66. With childhood memories of the original Red Oak, Missouri, where Lowell had once lived as a child, he came home to find it a ghost town. So Lowell and Charlotte purchased the last remaining buildings at Red Oak, and moved them to their new home. Their corn patch became “Red Oak II, Missoura”. See not only Lowell’s depiction of what rural Missouri life looked like in an era past, but take a gander at the remaining section of a pre-Civil War mansion, a rare, two-story log cabin with spiral staircase, the “Missoura Kid”, the Dalton Gang house, the “Mother-in-Law” house, the “Womanizer” and much more.”
I missed it, but when you drive down Route 66 in Carthage, Missouri, turn north at the big convertible pickup truck in the sky, and go two miles to Red Oak II. I take it that Lowell Davis creates folk art signs under the “Foxfire Farms” name. Here are some photos of what I missed seeing — http://www.ozarkdigitworks.us/2pictures/2scenery/7redoakii/redoakii/indexredoakii.html.
Carthage has the fabulous Jasper County Courthouse, second most beautiful we’ve seen (Marfa, Texas is best). It is really something to see. There’s a Civil War Museum. And the great old Boots Motel. My new Joplin friend Lois told me he worked at the Boots Drive-In when he was a boy (45 years or so ago I reckon), and he told me to be sure to look across the street from where the motel is, and I would see where the drive-in used to be. I did, and I took a photo for Lois, Jordan, and Wynoka.
I got a kick out of the “loaded car” at Bulger Motor Co. in Carterville – an old car loaded with all kinds of junk.
Webb City has several things to see. The city has a praying hands statue, but it’s not in the same league as the one at Oral Roberts University. It’s a zinc mining town, and they have a nice sculpture of a zinc miner.
There are a lot of Burma Shave-like religious signs in this part of the country – apparently a very religious area.
I was back in Springfield by noon. I decided sometime back to skip Branson since Bozzie Jane was no longer with me. The traffic is horrendous on the weekends to and from Branson. But when I realized Lambert’s Café (best meal we’ve had in Foley, Alabama) was just a few miles south, I steered the car in that direction. Unfortunately there was a 2½ hour wait this Mother’s Day, so I got back to Route 66 and drove on.
Many towns came and went with little or nothing special to see. A city hall with a big Route 66 sign, an exotic animal park, barns advertising Meramec Caverns. Nothing big, but a nice, peaceful drive on a Sunday.
Lebanon has the classic old Munger Moss Motel, but it was distressing to see it is now part of Red Carpet Inns. Their tacky little Red Carpet Inn sign has been added to the great old Munger Moss neon sign.
I got lost and went to the town of Sleeper by mistake, but I enjoyed adding that name to the list of town’s visited. I got some good photos in Hazelgreen, and I photographed a couple of good mailboxes for the first time in quite a few days.
I tried a few spots for lunch, but there was always a wait due to Mother’s Day. I finally settled for Sonic in St. Robert, Missouri. It’s always good. Jamie was my car-hop.
Fort Leonard Wood was next. I drove to the entrance for a photo. Fort Leonard Wood is considered to be the premiere training facility for the US Army. I was there for Army basic training the extremely hot summer of 1970, and there were few fond memories. Barbara’s parents did bring her up from Dallas for a brief visit on the base one Sunday afternoon. Her parents are so sweet; they went to the only local theatre and watched the only available movie four times – “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.” Bozzie and I sat out under a tree in the sweltering heat and high humidity and kissed and hugged and sweated. It was clearly the highlight of my time at Fort Leonard Wood – that and the day I got to leave there.
East of Fort Leonard Wood is the Devil’s Elbow section of Route 66. It is supposed to be one of the more treacherous areas on Route 66. It didn’t seem very treacherous to me, but I later learned that I wasn’t on the original Route 66. This is one of the disadvantages of not having a navigator; it is so hard to try to travel Route 66 alone as you really need someone studying the available information so you can find the right roads and the good places to see. Missouri’s Route 66 signage may be the worst. There are almost always signs, but they are always AFTER the turns. I learned that if you turn and don’t see a Route 66 sign within an eighth of a mile, you probably took the wrong turn.
John’s Modern Cabins was clearly on my personal radar screen, however. I was dumped back on the interstate west of where it was supposed to be, so I was very pleased when I saw what appeared to be the ruins of the cabins just off the road on what appeared to be an access road on the north side of the interstate. I took the exit for Sugartree, crossed the interstate, and turned left onto the deserted dead end stretch of abandoned Route 66 that led down to the old cabins. The road was a mess – giant potholes, and I was dodging them as best I could when I looked in my rear view mirror to see the flashing lights of a police car. That’s always a terrible sight!
I pulled over and rolled down my window. I absolutely positively knew I wasn’t speeding. With the exception of the race from Pietown to Quemado when I was out of gas on Easter Sunday, I don’t believe I have exceeded the speed limit “allowance” of a few miles an hour over since Vincent Passarelli paid a visit to us on Day 3. When the officer walked up, I asked if there was a problem. He said, “You bet there is. You didn’t use a turn signal back there when you turned left, and you’ve been swerving from one lane to the other. I thought you might be drunk or something.” I replied that I was absolutely sober – hadn’t had a drink since one Dos Equis in Terlingua on Day 18, and am about as careful a driver as you will ever find, and I always use my turn signals – every time I turn and every time I change lanes, so I was absolutely confident that I did signal. The officer responded: Well, I have a partner with me, and he didn’t see the signal either.” He went on to say: “Of course, there might have been glare from the sun….” I thought this was strange. I don’t ever recall having a policeman say he might have been wrong about something! I had long since given him my driver’s license. I then told him that as to the swerving, this is a deserted road with giant potholes, and I was just trying to avoid ruining my car as I go down the road just a little ways to take photos of the old abandoned cabins. He asked what I was doing, and I explained that I was writing a book and taking photos of sights along Route 66, and John’s Modern Cabins was one of the landmarks that I really wanted to photograph. I handed him a card with the story about the trip on the back.
He leaned in the window and looked inside the car. The inside of the car is a mess as Bozzie is in Dallas, and I was just throwing all of the acquired brochures and maps and things in the floorboard of the passenger side of the car. My black tote bags were in the back seat, and the car was generally full of stuff, as the only empty space was where Bozzie’s black bags used to be in the trunk. I am, of course, wearing my green purple, and white beads, as well as my new gold beads – always impressive to officers of the law. He said: “Now sometimes we have problems with people with drugs. Would you mind if we search your car for drugs?” I started to open the car door, and said: “Absolutely no problem. Search away. I hope you won’t mind if I take a few photos while you search!” At that point, he said: “It won’t be necessary to search your car. I just wanted to see what you’d say. You can go on now.” I thanked him. He hollered out to his partner: “This fellow is just a photographer – headed down to take some photos of the old cabins.” But I persisted on the photo, so Officer Carmello got out of the car and posed with Officer Ray, and I got a nice photo with their lights still flashing.
Busted for drugs in Sugartree, Missouri! I actually enjoyed it. It absolutely spiced up a ho-hum day.
I took photos of John’s Modern Cabins – built by John Dausch in 1951 and closed in the 60’ after I-44 took all the traffic off Route 66. Dausch lived there until he died in 1971. The cabins are in bad shape. I hope someone salvages and restores them so they aren’t lost the way so many things have been.
As I dodged the potholes and headed back across the interstate to get on Route 66 on the other side of the highway, I all of a sudden realized what had happened earlier. I had forgotten about seeing a little sign on the side of the interstate before I exited for Sugartree. The sign said “Spot Check 1 Mile Ahead.” I didn’t know what that was all about, but I all of a sudden realized that old Ray and Carmello put that sign out there before the exit. Then they hide in the bushes and trump up some reason to pull over any car that exits in this middle of nowhere place…figuring the odds are pretty good that those getting off have drugs to hide or toss or just plan to drive on a backroad to avoid the Spot Checkpoint. Sneaky stuff. When I saw Ray and Carmello tucked back behind some bushes, I just waved. I followed the road to a dead end in Arlington, and then I retraced my path and passed by them again. They had a U-Haul truck with drug-sniffing dogs out giving it a good once over. Don’t you know they thought they hit the motherlode when a gray-haired gray-bearded guy wearing beads driving a white Porsche convertible got off “to avoid the Spot Check” and drove down the dead end road! I laughed for miles.
I saw some llamas in Doolittle and a great big mailbox featuring a train and a tire with “Do Not Disturb — We’re TIREd” painted on the side.
Uncle Ward had dinner reservations for 7 pm, so I didn’t spend much time anywhere else in Missouri. I saw the Totem Pole Trading Post in Rolla, the Stonehenge Replica at the University of Missouri at Rolla, and the outside of the Autos of Yesteryear Museum. I got lost heading to St. James, and I am positive that our Route 66 map was wrong about where to drive in this area. I saw the vineyards in the grape-growing region of Rosati, and I stopped at the Rosati Winery long enough to meet Marvin Ripplemayer and buy one of the Grape Pies I had seen advertised on little signs along the highway. I asked Marvin if he was the owner, and he responded: “Me, my wife, and the bank.” They’ve all owned it for better than 25 years.
Being in Cuba was a treat. Cuba, Missouri. I took a number of photos there, but I need to contact the folks at the bank there and advise them they need to trim their shrub out front as you can no longer read the word Bank. They’re losing a lot of free publicity from Route 66’ers like me who want a photo of the People’s Bank of Cuba.
Bourbon was next. Sleeper, Doolittle, Cuba, and Bourbon all in one day. Great day for town names.
The area around St. Cloud, Missouri is certainly one of the prettiest areas along all of Route 66 – pretty hills and tree-lined roads.
Stanton is a tourist area because Meramec Caverns is just outside of town. Meramec Caverns invented the bumper sticker. As regular readers know, Bozzie Jane and I do not do caverns, so I took the obligatory entrance sign picture and rolled on. I also got photos of the Toy Museum and Jesse James Museum as well as a few other tourist traps.
At this point, I was late for dinner, so I hopped on the interstate and cranked it up to the speed limit.
Uncle-in-law Ward, nieces Kelly and Kricky, cousins Taylor, Kylie, and Carson, nephew-in-law Vern, and old friends Ruth and Doug Huggins were at the Wild Horse Grill in Chesterfield, Missouri. We had a delicious meal, a brief but enjoyable chance to visit, and then the guys went over to Ward’s house where we ate the Grape Pie. Not the best pie we’ve ever had, but clearly unusual and enjoyable. Vern took the leftovers home to warm up with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Mother’s Day was far from the most exciting day of the trip, though the Drug Bust made it a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing what’s left of John’s Modern Cabins and some of the other sights along the way, but I kept thinking about what I would have seen 50 years ago. In the town of Avilla, I saw a great old building with a big lot next door filled with a pile of old weathered wood rubble. The Route 66 CD usually gets played at some point each day when we’ve driven Route 66. One of the better songs is titled “Get Your Kicks on What’s Left of Route 66.” One of the lyrics is “Where history has been rubbed out.”