For some people, U.S. Highway 66 evokes nostalgic memories of vacations to Disneyland, Grand Canyon or Yosemite. For others, it was films such as The Grapes of Wrath and the television series Route 66 that elevated this highway to iconic status.
Traveling the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago through the Ozarks and the Southwest to Los Angeles, Susan Croce Kelly then weaved a story of a highway that played a pivotal role in the social changes of the early twentieth century.
Hear the fascinating story of Route 66 from Susan, author of Route 66, the Highway & its People, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the Allen Public Library.
From the dirt-and-gravel days until the time it was officially removed from the U.S. Highway system in 1985, sociological and architectural changes rapidly altered the experience of driving Route 66. Restaurants, motels, gas stations, and souvenir shops sprang up. In her book, Susan shares the reminiscences of people who witnessed these developments, including those who drove the highway, cooked the hamburgers, created the pottery, and pumped the gas.
When asked about the inspiration for writing her book, Susan observes, “What fascinates me about Route 66 is how much of it is of another time — the mid-twentieth century — and how it has become a lodestone for travelers from the rest of the world who come to see ‘the real America. More than automobiles, it was the silver-gray ribbons of road that changed this country’. Highways made travel easier, more economical and accessible to virtually everyone. And because 66 loops from the center of the country to Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean, it became a veritable Yellow Brick Road for generations of Americans.”
Susan’s award-winning second book of Route 66 history was, Father of Route 66, the Story of Cy Avery. Avery was the man who laid out the highway, gave it a number and made it famous.
A former newspaper reporter and columnist, Susan has written for newspapers and magazines across the country. She currently is editor of OzarksWatch, a magazine of Ozarks history and culture.
Sponsored by the Allen Public Library, the program is free. The library is located at 300 N. Allen Dr. Call 214-509-4811 for additional information.