If you were a traveler along the famous Route 66 in the late 1940s and you wanted a first-class place to stay the night, you couldn’t do better than the Boots Court Motel in Carthage, Missouri.
Not only would you have a room with the most modern conveniences — a “radio in every room,” they said — but you could pop over across the road to the 66 Drive-in to catch a movie or maybe to get “breakfast at any hour” at the fountain that served food there.
The drive-in theater is now a bank, but the Boots Motel — thanks to a dedicated group of historic restorationists and civic-minded citizens — is open for business, much like it was in 1939 when it was first built.
The building is a prime example of streamline moderne and art deco architecture with rounded corners, smooth stucco, and a roofline and walls accented by black Carrara glass and green neon.
And it has a history. Here are a few highlights:
- Arthur Boots, a farm equipment salesman from Kansas City, wanted to run a motel and studied a map carefully trying to find the best location. He settled on Carthage, Missouri, because it was the intersection of Highways 71 and 66. He called it the “Crossroads of America.”
- Boots constructed much of the original building himself and named it Boots Court when it was first opened in 1939.
- Originally there was a gas station in front of the motel. Boots had this in case the motel did not do well. It turned out that the motel was so successful that he didn’t have time to pump gas.
- Despite his work, his dreams, and his initial success, Arthur Boots didn’t last long in the motel business. He and his wife divorced in 1941, and she ran the motel. She sold it in 1944.
There is much more in the history section of the Boots Motel website in case you’re interested.
Thanks to newsletter reader Marilyn F., who grew up in Carthage, for putting me on to all of this stuff with this link: http://www.scenicusa.net/042611.html
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins — tagged by no less than Dorothy L. Sayers as the “very finest detective story ever written” — is the August selection for The Guardian’s reading group.
The Moonstone is the first of the great English detective novels. The Guardian’s Sam Jordison, moderator of the reading group, says:
It’s 150 years this August since Collins wrapped up the story which he had been publishing in instalments in the periodical All the Year Round – having kept readers hanging on since January to learn the great secret at the heart of the book. William Tinsey, who published The Moonstone in book form, reported crowds of “anxious readers” waiting around his office, as well as “several” bets being taken on the book’s eventual outcome.
Reading it today, it’s easy to understand that fever of expectation . . .Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone is our reading group choice for August | Books | The Guardian
Grab a copy and join in the discussion here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/reading-group. You can download a free copy of the book from Project Gutenberg.
Some of you have Route 66 memories:
Janet E.: Your articles about Route 66 were very interesting. My husband and I have traveled on Route 66 but not all the way. A personal story about the tv show, Route 66. I went to a small private school. We would go on field trips from time to time. One of the field trips was to the banana boat docks in Tampa, FL. As we got off the bus to tour the boat docks, we heard a familiar theme song. You guessed it. We were excited to find out that we were going to be able to watch them film the show. All I remember was watching Martin Milner and George Maharis jump in and out of their car. I would love to find a copy of that exact program. I very much enjoy your newsletter but had to tell you about my experience with Route 66.
Note: All of the episodes of Route 66 are listed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Route_66_episodes
Bonnie K.: Wow, you sent a lot of info, very valuable to me. I am going to check out the books you talked about Route 66 and Copyboy. I have not read Paperboy, but I am going to try to find it first. It sounds interesting. I am glad to have heard about it. Thank you for your newsletter. I appreciate it.
And in reaction to a newsletter item of a couple of weeks ago that referenced the #metoo movement:
Kitty G.: Having worked in offices the last 20 years of my nursing career and in hospitals the first 20 years; I have to wonder just how many of those #metoo women used the opportunities offered for sexual favors to climb up the workforce ladder. I saw many things in my 40 years. I was a medical/ psychiatric RN. I could write books, literally!!
Grant and Sherman are heros? Maybe, maybe not
Helen P.: Interesting reading about Grant and Sherman. Never thought of them as heroic, saviors of the Union. Sherman was always infamous to me, due to the March to the sea and that his burning included private residences. Also his attitude to the Indian problem. Had a roommate in college from Virginia. She insisted Lee never surrendered. That is what she learned in school. History may be written by the winner, but the teachers have a say.
In addition . . .
I have had some interesting and enlightening exchanges with readers who disagree with me or with some of the things I recommend. The people who have written have been unfailingly kind, respectful and civil, and I hope my responses have shown that I genuinely care about what you think. We may disagree on particular issues, but I always maintain that there is much that we have in common and can agree on. Whether you agree or disagree — or just have a different point of view — please write if you have something to say. It is a highlight of my week when I hear from readers.
Get a FREE copy of Kill the Quarterback
Get a free digital copy of Jim Stovall's mystery novel, Kill the Quarterback. You will also get Jim's newsletter and advanced notice of publications, free downloads and a variety of information about what he is working on. Jim likes to stay in touch, so sign up today.