Heritage, Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 1991 Page: 25
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mined, despite the protests of Mollie's father,
to set a wedding date.
More than a love story, the letters tell
the story of life on the staked plain in the
late nineteenth century. They are filled
with the wonderful detail of daily life that
quenches our thirst for knowledge of our
past. We are invited to sit down in the
evening with J.B.M. and listen to him
recount his day. We are privileged to share
the journey to his beloved Mollie.
Patricia Haas is editor of HERITAGE.
A Guide Book to Highway
Jack D. Rittenhouse, University of New Mexico
The Highway and Its People
Photographic essay by Quinta Scott, text by Susan
Croce Kelly, University of Oklahoma Press,
$17.95 paper, $24.95 cloth.
Reviewed by John Peterson
Interstate highway travel today is a dull
chore compared to the heyday of Route 66.
Remember when you'd drive down the
road with your arm cocked on the window
sill, short sleeve flapping in the breeze, the
only air conditioning an open window and
a cold bottle of pop? Of course, if you've
got to get there fast, the interstate's the
only way to go. But if you want to savor the
broad sweep of the country, you need to
seek out the back roads and slow down to
read the signs and see the sights.
These two books chronicle the good
old days of the National Highway System,
when Route 66 spanned the prairies and
the plains and the deserts of America and
cut a cross-section through the heart of an
era. The motels and cafes and curio shops
that grew up along the highway were
monuments to art deco, to American
entrepreneurial spirit, and to regional
diversity. Route 66: The Highway and Its
People is a tribute to the sense of place in
America in the 1940s and 1950s.
The many small businesses that sprung
up along the highway from the 1920s took
a special dedication. Homer Ehresman of
the First Motel in Texas/The Last Motel in
Texas recounted for the authors: "If you
want to be lonely, you make it lonely. Some
people never would have stayed here." Or,
as Ruby Denton from Groom, Texas put it:
"People who run cafes are women. I'll tell
you why most men don't like to work that
hard and don't like to take the guff. When
you operate a cafe, you don't travel-you
stay at home and tend to business. The cafe
business is fun if you like it, and I like it."
Route 66: The Highway and Its People is
an evocative account a historical text,
personal interview, and photographic
documents of the history of the highway. It
chronicles its origins as a National
Highway in 1926 and its life history to its
demise in 1985. Of course, the highway
still mostly remains, as do the skeletons of
buildings and businesses and communities
that it spawned and supported.
Driving along segments of its former
route is like time-travelling. Photographer
Scott captures in her essay the architectural
and human record of the highway's
demise. The highway depicted in these
photos is often cracked and grown up with
weeds; the buildings are decayed and
quaint, but the memories of the people are
vivid and full of life.
A Guidebook to Highway 66 by Jack D.
Rittenhouse is a facsimile edition of the
original which was published in 1946. It
was never widely distributed, but along the
highway it served as a sourcebook for lodging,
gas stations, and cafes. It recounted the
sights along and near the route, and enthusiastically
touted the regional character of
stretches along the way.
As the author recounts in his preface to
the present edition, he waxed so warmly
about New Mexico that he referred to the
Gulf of NEW Mexico in another account.
Of Texas, he noted: "Cross TEXASOKLAHOMA
STATE LINE. At once the
road improves." From Lark, Texas on west,
"be on the alert for cattle crossing the highway,
especially between dusk and dawn.
Fences often break, and the animals amble
slowly along and across the highways." and
"The weather here is very fickle: storms of
snow or rain come up suddenly on days
which begin with sunshine."
This book is an excellent companion
piece to the first and an interesting addition
to anyone's collection of Americana
and Texana literature. Route 66 played a
major role in linking America in the
postwar period while still preserving its regional
diversity and small business individualism.
The rise of the interstate with its
bland face loses in delight what it gains in
John Peterson is a professional archaeologist and
the book review editor of HERITAGE.
BOOKS ABOUT TEXAS
W ~ ~ CHEROKEES
(jn-~ ~ -g-g-ggg-ggA People Between Two
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... ... ... . ^By Dianna Everett
.. .. .l. .. .. ll Sll llM : Volume 203 in The Civilization of
. ....llllllll. ii.ll the American Indian Series
W -....E0 .ll.l.ili..l. Readers of Indian and Texas
iW't.'.A.X l history will find this story of
( f l m =sCherokee resistance to acculaftW
.l ^ .- _ turation fascinating and full
of details from previously unresearched
HISTORICAL * Ata
ATLAS OF TEXAS t 1e S 5
By A. Ray Stephens and
William M. Holmes
"An exciting book ... The...
reading is surprisingly lively
and colorful. It is to be read
for enjoyment and will be
useful as a reference tool as
well. "--Old West.
$15.95 Paper; $24.95 Cloth
_ _I REBELLIOUS
~ ofte eiRip Ford and the Old
% - _ J ~Southwest
By W. J. Hughes
F ~.New Foreword by Walter
l5 ;Ef ; "His career reads like a dime
novel ....The book is indispensable
for the history of
; TextbSsa Texas and for certain aspects
of the Mexican War.'Journal
of the West.
The Highway and Its
Photographic Essay by D i v a
Text by Susan Croce
"The words and pictures of
this delightful book preserve o,.
the memories of a road that
ran through everyone's life."
-Wall Street Journal.
$17.95 Paper; $24.95 Cloth
University of Olahoma ftess
Dept. MAR6-1005 Asp Avenue-Norman, OK 73019-0445
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 1991, periodical, Winter 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45422/m1/25/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.