Aug 072013
 




As celebrations go, we think the Route 66 International Festival was top-notch. On behalf of our community and our readers, we want to thank the Route 66 Alliance for choosing Joplin as the site of the festival.

We also tip our hat to the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau and all the local volunteers who made it a great event.

Michael Wallis, one of the co-founders of the Route 66 Alliance and the man providing the voice of the sheriff in the Disney-Pixar movie “Cars,” signed about 2,200 autographs in Carthage. He called his fan base “future road warriors.”

We like the idea that there are those who are keeping the story of America’s Mother Road alive. As a result of the festival, it’s clear that our own appreciation has been rekindled. Events promoted the history of the route from Vinita, Okla., to Carthage, Mo., with stops in Kansas in between.

And it seems like every time there’s a discussion about Route 66, we learn something new or discover something new right here in our own backyard.

A lot of work and planning went into the event, from the car cruising, to the kids roadie parade.

With that said, it would be a shame to wait 20 years for Joplin to get another turn to be hosts for the festival.

Wallis described the success of the event this way:

Route 66 is a linear village that has no state lines, county boundaries or city limits. We have to work together, and we saw that beginning to happen for the first time in Joplin.”

It’s an experience we would love to repeat again somewhere down the road.

Jun 012013
 





I do hope they reopen the restaurant (and orange juice stand) one day in the near future as I know EVERYONE will want to stop and get a chance to experience this place….

On a day when Fontana was celebrating its 100th birthday, Joe Bono on Friday did just what his family has done for the last 77 years: He offered his hospitality to tourists traveling on Route 66.
Sitting along the parking lot of Bono’s Old Route 66 restaurant on Foothill Boulevard was something Glen Heitritter and Linda Swenson of Omaha, Neb., had not yet seen on their ride down the Mother Road.

They stopped to take a look at the Big Orange, a 7-foot-high stucco ball from which thirsty travelers could buy glasses of fresh orange juice before the age of the freeway.

After the couple posed for the requisite photo, Bono gave them a tour of his place.

An attorney and former deputy district attorney, Bono grew up at the rear of the property at the corner of Sultana Avenue. A neighbor suggested to his mother in 1936 that she ought to sell juice to travelers along Foothill, which at the time had plenty of vineyards but was short on any places to stop for refreshment.

“It was all you could drink for 10 cents,” he told me in an interview some time ago.

That evolved into an Italian market and ultimately a restaurant. Especially during the Great Depression, Mama Bono would hear lots of hard-luck stories from many weary, and penniless, travelers seeking a new life in California and often fed them for free.

For Heitritter and Swanson, the Big Orange proved the perfect Route 66 distraction.

In their striking red Pontiac GTO — naturally, a 1966 model — they have traveled what remains of Route 66 since picking it up first in Carthage, Mo.

Among the notable experiences they’ve had was spending a night in one of the storied Wigwam Motels — with rooms shaped like teepees — in Holbrook, Ariz. They had passed the Inland Empire’s Wigwam Motel on the western edge of San Bernardino a few moments before pulling into Bono’s parking lot.

Before leaving for the end of the road at Santa Monica Pier that afternoon, they viewed Bono’s restaurant and its array of photographs and mementoes.

On a wall is a picture of young Joe and his father working in the vineyards not far away.

“Everything you see out there was vineyards,” he told the visitors, pointing out the windows toward Foothill.

But now Bono has big plans for his landmark business.

Looking over architect’s drawings, Bono said the restaurant, whose front windows are just a few feet shy of the now-four-lane Foothill Boulevard, will be moved south back from the highway. This will accommodate widening of the street as well as the construction of a huge warehouse planned on the other side of Sultana.

He said he was confident that Bono’s restaurant would reopen in the near future, to accommodate Fontana’s next century and for future travelers seeking the romance and adventure of Route 66.

By Joe Blackstock – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Mar 192013
 







SO many tours – so little time (and no restored truck!!… YET!)

The Route 66 Association of Missouri will be “Rockin’ to the Devil and Rollin to the Saints” on its 23rd Annual Motor Tour. This Years tour will be held September 6th 7th and 8th. The tour will start in Carthage, MO and will end at Orchard Park in St. Clair, MO.

Tour registration begins on Friday, September 6, at 4:00 p.m. at the Econo Lodge, located at 1441 W. Central Ave. in Carthage, MO, where a block of rooms has been set aside for tour goers. Tour Goers can register on Friday night until 10:00 p.m. There will also be information on activities and things to do in Carthage available at registration.

On Saturday, September 7, tour registration will resume at 8:00 a.m. at the Econo Lodge in Carthage, and the tour will depart at 8:15 a.m. (after the pre-tour meeting) from the Econo Lodge. On Saturday, tour goers will have the opportunity to make stops between Carthage and the midpoint destination outside Devil’s Elbow, MO. A guide detailing places to look for on the way will be provided at registration. Among the places tour goers will be able to visit along the way will include Spencer, MO, Gay Parita, Halltown Mercantile, and the Greene County Museum. There will also be information about other suggested stops provided at registration.

The Saturday night midpoint destination will be the Montis Inn, located at the intersection of CR Z (Route 66) and SR 28 just north of Devil’s Elbow. A block of rooms has been set aside for tour goers at the Montis Inn . Saturday night’s dinner will be held at the Waynesville City Park, where we will be able to enjoy the excellent Bar-B-Que prepared by Sweetwater BBQ. There will be a silent auction and information about Sunday provided at the dinner.

On Sunday after the 8:00 a.m. nondenominational worship service, tour goers will proceed from the Montis Inn eastward to St. Clair. Again, a guide detailing places to look for on the way will be provided at registration. The tour will conclude with a lunch catered by Jim’s Country Catering, at Orchard Park just off Route 66 in St. Clair. Additional information on any planned stops or activities along the way will be made available at registration.

For more information and/or to obtain a registration flyer, contact Debbie Rhew (573)-433-9812; dprhew@windstream.net, or Kip Welborn, 314-776-7385, rudkip@sbcglobal.net, or visit our website (where you will be able to find a registration form you can download) at www.missouri66.org. Here’s hoping that you can join us on this year’s Motor Tour!

By Carolyn Hasenfratz – STLToday.com

Dec 122011
 



The ‘saving’ of the Boots Motel…


This HAS to be one of the most important stories of the year. This is an iconic motel – which was on the auction block – and was saved by two sisters on a mission. The following is the original story:

In 2006, two sisters, Deborah Harvey from Decatur, Ga. and Pricilla Bledsaw from Decatur, Ill. Took a vehicle tour of Route 66 in 2006 and decided it would be neat one day to own an old motel on the Mother Road.

Well that someday is today and that motel is the historic Boots Motel in Carthage.

Harvey and Bledsaw made the announcement in an email released by Carthage Realtor Jim Hunter, who had been marketing the property for the Hometown Bank since that bank foreclosed on it in June.

“After cruising Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2006, they began talking about buying a motel on Route 66 to operate when they retire,” the release said. Although not ready to retire yet, Pricilla and Deborah felt that the Boots Motel was too good an opportunity to miss. They plan to restore the Boots Court buildings to their late 1940s appearance.

Bledsaw has retail experience and formerly owned a jewelry store in Decatur, Ill., where she lives.

Harvey lives in Decatur, Ga., and is the sole proprietor of a consulting firm offering expertise in historic preservation and historic research.

Hunter said Harvey has prepared a feasibility study for herself and her sister to determine whether the Boots can be profitable and viable as a historic motel.

“I feel fortunate to have found two ladies who recognize the opportunity that exists in the purchase and restoration of the Boot’s Motel,” Hunter said.

The pending sale should transact this month. The property was marketed locally and nationally via the many Websites that promote Route 66.

“The buyer’s plans to turn Boot’s Motel into a viable tourist attraction/motel will help the city of Carthage in attracting the many tourists that travel Route 66 and seek out these historic structures. It will become a great addition to the area in terms of economic development. I applaud them in being willing to put the capital up to improve our community.”

Lonnie Heckmaster, president of Hometown Bank, said the new owners have good ideas that will be good for Carthage.

“I’m just glad to see it go to individuals that will keep it as the Boots Motel,” Heckmaster said. “We wanted it to continue to draw folks to Carthage and I’m sure glad to see someone come in to further that cause.”

You can visit them at their website by clicking HERE or visting them on Facebook by clicking HERE. They are looking for donations and again, I applaud these two for taking on such a monumental task!

Sep 272011
 





I will say this: ‘Good things DO happen to good people who try to do a good thing for other good people!’



CARTHAGE, Mo. — When Deborah Harvey, the new owner of the Boots Motel, got a phone call on Sept. 13 she was on her way to Columbia, Mo., for a meeting, but she turned around immediately when she saw who was calling. It was, Bob Boots, the son of Boots Motel founder and builder Arthur Boots and the one person still around who might remember the most about what Harvey’s new project looked like when it was opened in 1939. This is the first of two stories about his visit.

Bob Boots, 85, Tulsa, returned last Tuesday to the motel his father built when Bob was a student at Hawthorn Elementary School and stepped inside for the first time in years.

“It was kind of like a door opened to some old memories,” Bob Boots said as he stood in the old front office. “This whole corner brings back memories. The courthouse is the most obvious landmark, the Boots Drive In, I spent years there, but this is special. I was a teenager here, oh, I must have been 14 whenever we first moved over here and dad started building it.”

And it was those memories that Harvey and her sister, Pricilla Bledsaw, hope to tap as they make plans to renovate the iconic motel.

“What we plan to do is restore this to a 1940s appearance and that’s what I need you for, I need someone who was actually here in the 1940s and old enough to remember,” Harvey told Bob Boots during the visit. “I really wanted to talk to you in depth about the construction of the building.”

Boots said he hadn’t spent any time in the motel since his father sold it in 1942. He left for service in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1945 and returned in 1946 when Arthur Boots was building the Boots Drive In, a restaurant across Garrison Street that now serves as the Great Plains Credit Union.

“I’ve been up here a couple of times and I’ve driven by a few times but I haven’t stopped in,” Bob Boots said. “This is part of my life and it always will be, but it’s something in the past. It’s kind of like the door in time. There are old, vivid memories here. I sat here and smooched up my girlfriend and watch the traffic go by. That’s part of the teenage routine.”

Bob Boots said he remembers that his father came to Carthage searching for the ideal place to build a motel. In Carthage he found what people had long called the “Crossroads of America,” where U.S. Highway 66 and U.S. Highway 71 crossed.

At that time, Route 66 was a major highway link from Chicago to LA and Route 71 was a major highway from the Canadian border to New Orleans.

“He knew what he wanted, and his brother had a Boots Court in Eldon, Mo., and it’s now called the Randall’s Court,” Bob Boots said. “It’s been there for 70 years or so. His brother had a motel and dad decided he wanted one too. We lived over in Independence, Kan., where he and a partner had a John Deere franchise. They sold out and he started looking over the map. He wanted a place where two highways met and came together. He came to the Crossroads of America. We lived in this house that we bought next door. Dad had all of his money tied up here and he wanted to stay close to it.”

Copyright 2011 Carthage Press.

Aug 162011
 



In 2006, two sisters, Deborah Harvey from Decatur, Ga. and Pricilla Bledsaw from Decatur, Ill. Took a vehicle tour of Route 66 in 2006 and decided it would be neat one day to own an old motel on the Mother Road.

Well that someday is today and that motel is the historic Boots Motel in Carthage.

Harvey and Bledsaw made the announcement in an email released by Carthage Realtor Jim Hunter, who had been marketing the property for the Hometown Bank since that bank foreclosed on it in June.

“After cruising Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2006, they began talking about buying a motel on Route 66 to operate when they retire,” the release said. Although not ready to retire yet, Pricilla and Deborah felt that the Boots Motel was too good an opportunity to miss. They plan to restore the Boots Court buildings to their late 1940s appearance.

Bledsaw has retail experience and formerly owned a jewelry store in Decatur, Ill., where she lives.

Harvey lives in Decatur, Ga., and is the sole proprietor of a consulting firm offering expertise in historic preservation and historic research.

Hunter said Harvey has prepared a feasibility study for herself and her sister to determine whether the Boots can be profitable and viable as a historic motel.
“I feel fortunate to have found two ladies who recognize the opportunity that exists in the purchase and restoration of the Boot’s Motel,” Hunter said.
The pending sale should transact this month. The property was marketed locally and nationally via the many Websites that promote Route 66.

“The buyer’s plans to turn Boot’s Motel into a viable tourist attraction/motel will help the city of Carthage in attracting the many tourists that travel Route 66 and seek out these historic structures. It will become a great addition to the area in terms of economic development. I applaud them in being willing to put the capital up to improve our community.”

Lonnie Heckmaster, president of Hometown Bank, said the new owners have good ideas that will be good for Carthage.

“I’m just glad to see it go to individuals that will keep it as the Boots Motel,” Heckmaster said. “We wanted it to continue to draw folks to Carthage and I’m sure glad to see someone come in to further that cause.”

Apr 302011
 



The Boots Motel is for sale, and a Carthage group is looking for a way to preserve the iconic building on Route 66.

A group met recently at the Carthage Chamber of Commerce to discuss whether there is interest in trying to ensure the building remains a Carthage landmark.

“It was pretty much unanimous that they want to see more preservation along Route 66 in Carthage. Since the Boots is for sale, it would be the first target,” said Wendi Douglas, executive director of the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The initial meeting on Friday was organized by Lora Phelps, a vice president at UMB Bank.

“A lot of people feel the Boots should be preserved and that it could be utilized as a way to bring more people to Carthage,” she said. “We wanted to get a group together, and now we’re discussing ideas and exploring our options.”

By Susan Redden – Globe Staff Writer The Joplin Globe

Jan 132011
 

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Travelers along Route 66 through Carthage will have some better directions once work crews can install street markings approved this week by the City Council.

The council endorsed a recommendation of the city’s public works committee to stencil a Route 66 logo on Garrison Avenue between Central and Oak streets.

“That would provide a clear view of Route 66 through that part of town,” said Tom Short, city administrator.

Many tourists — from the U.S. and other countries — travel the route through Carthage.

“But sometimes people will miss the turn onto Oak Street, so this will have pavement stenciling and probably some turn arrows, so people won’t get lost,” Short said.

He said city crews will do the work in the spring.