The people on Route 66 in Western California

 California, Daily  Comments Off on The people on Route 66 in Western California
Sep 092012

Rachel Pabon
Co-manager of Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain

Rachel Pabon, a manager at Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain, talks about how the business has been at its South Pasadena location for 97 years, predating the Mother Road.

The business opened its doors in 1915 and became a popular rest stop on the westernmost end of Route 66 in the 1930s.

Pabon, a manager of the business since 2005, said a lot of customers still use the pharmacy.

“We get people from every state. On the weekends, it’s hard to even get a seat. On Saturdays we’re completely full, with people waiting in line for old-fashioned ice cream. We’ve even had to double our outdoor seating,” she said.

The business, which has been featured on the Travel Channel, has recently started a Facebook page.

Wigwam Motel, San Bernardino

Co-owner Ramila Patel holds a U.S. map created from old license plates from each state while inside the Wigwam Motel’s lobby in San Bernardino. The motel is a classic Route 66 destination.

The Patel Family
The Patel family – husband and wife Jack and Ramila Patel, with sons, Kumar and Manoj – purchased the iconic Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino in 2003.

The Wigwam has stood for more than half a century as a monument to all that is unique – outlandish, wonderful, quaint and quirky – about the Mother Road.

“The whole essence of the culture of Route 66 is people are seeking the real America – the way it used to be,” said Kumar Patel.

Even during extensive renovations, the family did not close the business, but welcomed travelers while work gradually progressed.

The “village” of 20 concrete tepee cabins is now on the federal list of historic places.

This year’s Route 66 Rendezvous T-shirt design features the Wigwam Motel tepees.

Joe Bono is the owner of Bono’s Restaurant and Deli, which is located along Route 66’s Foothill Boulevard in Fontana. Bono’s Restaurant has been closed for several years and faces the threat of partial demolishment due to the city’s proposal to widen Foothill Boulevard.

Joe Bono
Owner, Bono’s Italian Restaurant and Orange Stand, Foothill Boulevard, a.k.a Route 66, Fontana

Bono, 81, uncle of the late entertainer Sonny Bono, owns iconic Bono’s Italian Restaurant in Fontana, started by his mother, Frances, on Route 66 in 1936.

A retired lawyer, Bono took over the restaurant and deli business after his mother died in the 1990s.

“I like to go out and talk to people who come here, because they are from all over the world,” said Bono, who has been instrumental in keeping Route 66 culture alive.

The restaurant, which has been closed since 2004, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

He has ongoing issues with the city regarding the widening of Foothill Boulevard in front of his property.

The Saga Motor Hotel is a Route 66 destination in Pasadena. The hotel has been a setting for film crews, including a recent episode of “CSI” and a variety of commercials.

Lori Bluemel and Melody McKinney
Co-managers of the historic Saga Motor Hotel in Pasadena

The Saga Motor Hotel, the rambling terra cotta-colored motel on Colorado Boulevard, a.k.a Route 66, is the quintessential “Welcome to California” to those arriving from other states or countries, according to manager Lori Bluemel.

The timeless motel, surrounded by lush, tropical landscaping, is an original along Route 66.

Because the Rose Parade passes by the motel, reservations are already being taken for New Year’s Eve 2012.

Busloads of international visitors also arrive from time to time, Bluemel said.

The motel has been the setting for film crews, including a recent episode of “CSI” and a variety of commercials.

Twists and turns on Route 66 in Pasadena

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Twists and turns on Route 66 in Pasadena
Jan 072011

The nation and the world probably know one small strip of Highway 66 better than any other section of the 2,400-mile road. That stretch is Colorado Boulevard, where the annual Tournament of Roses Parade has marched along since the l890s.

The festivities have grown in grandeur and popularity through the years. And with it, television coverage of the parade has delivered Route 66 with its magnificent mountain backdrop right into homes worldwide.

From Arcadia, cross Rosemead and Route 66 becomes Colorado Boulevard through eastern Pasadena. For motorists making an effort to follow America’s Highway today, the trip can be frustrating and confusing. Numerous old and new alignments exist, but the adventure can be rewarding and fun if one follows the recommendations and maps contained in a guide entitled “Finding the End of the Mother Road” by Scott Piotrowski.

See along the way restaurants such as Cameron’s, punctuated by its large neon fish sign, Jakes and the Rose City Diner, touting ambience of years past. Here antique stores abound, as do vintage motels which remain as a testament to the time when travelers were in dire need of shelter and food.

A few feet south of the Road on El Molino Avenue is the Pasadena Playhouse, housed in a beautiful building of Spanish architecture which was constructed in 1917.

To enjoy the Road, take note of the remaining old churches while following Piotrowski’s guide and the Route 66 road signs through Old Town.

In one alignment, Route 66 follows Colorado Boulevard over the Arroyo Seco across the 1913 Colorado Street Bridge, famous for its graceful curves. Nicknamed “suicide bridge,” it is said that during the Great Depression numerous individuals jumped from the structure.

Following Colorado Boulevard, the Road passes Figueroa Street into Eagle Rock and, in 1934, followed what is now Eagle Rock Boulevard. However, the original 1926 Route turned south on Fair Oaks Avenue to Huntington Drive, Mission Road, North Broadway and Sunset Boulevard.

The turn on Fair Oaks reveals a myriad of remnants of the Road’s heyday leading into South Pasadena. The Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain was in full swing at the dedication of Route 66, having opened in 1915. Located at the corner of Mission and Fair Oaks, it continues to serve its famed fountain drinks. Gus’s Barbecue, established in 1946, still dishes up the juicy ribs that have attracted customers since that time. Probably one of the most controversial and photographed sites in the area is the 1925 Rialto Theater, one of the last single-screen movie theaters in Southern California. Will this icon fall victim to the wrecking ball? Not if the many preservationalists bent on saving the structure have their way. Only time will tell.

A far cry from the dusty desert towns and the communities along the vanished citrus groves of the San Gabriel Valley, the Route from Pasadena west becomes convoluted, rife with traffic and congestion.

Even pulling over to take a photo can be problematic. But the icons are there for those who care to search and the history in the area is rich and colorful.

As the Route closes in on the City of the Angels, vintage buildings hint of a past era. But first the Road cuts through Highland Park, a town surprisingly flush with Route 66 signs and icons.

It is perhaps here that travelers become frustrated with the hustle and bustle of city life. However, the end is in sight as the Will Rogers Highway will soon disappear at the Pacific Coast.

By Claudia Heller, Correspondent –