Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Golden Era of the the 1940's and 1950's/Route 66 An Overview of the Mother Road Part 2

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Changes in farming methods and weather patterns finally began to ease the tragedy of the Dust Bowl. Then World War II began with the attack on Pearl Harbor that destroyed a large part of the United States Pacific fleet. Indirectly, this would deepen the emotional ties between Route 66 and the American public. The loss of of the fleet required rebuilding. This meant jobs on the west coast. Shipyards and also airplane factories were going full tilt and a literal army of steel workers relocated from the midwest to do those jobs. Also heading west were sailors and soldiers headed of to fight in the pacific theater. While many came by rail, not a small number came by the highway. Services along the way were improved from the 1930's However the emotion of war added a depth to the trips west made by so many.

Post-War Boom Time

After the war was over, there was a lot of movement around the country as people began to enjoy the post-war prosperity. So many of the iconic Route 66 sites were from this period in the lates 40's into the 1950's. The Mother Road had become a river of neon with all of the modern conveniences of the day readily available.

This clip gives an idea of the road during that era:



The Song
Sheet Music Route 66  by Bob Troupe
(Wikimedia Commons/CC)

It was during this golden era that Bobby Troup wrote the legendary song that Nat King Cole made famous about the highway. From Wikipedia:
"(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66", often rendered simply as "Route 66", is a popular song and rhythm and blues standard, composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup. It was first recorded in the same year by Nat King Cole, and was subsequently covered by many artists including Chuck Berry in 1961, The Rolling Stones in 1964, Depeche Mode in 1987, Pappo's Blues in 1995, John Mayer in 2006, and Glenn Frey in 2012. The song's lyrics follow the path of the U.S. Route 66 highway, which used to run a long distance across the U.S., going from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California.
The Bill That Ended It All

In 1956, Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act creating the interstate highway system and setting into play the apparent demise of the route. It took decades for the interstate highway system to be built and during that time the road was still a major route. As the interstates were built, older highways like Route 66 were frequently bypassed to allow for high speed through traffic. The small businesses that lined the road were now on a secondary road to the main highway and slowly but surely the road began to wither and die.

The Television Series

Promotional poster Route 66 television program
(Wikimedia Commons/CC)
Before that happened though, CBS television did its part to add to the lore and legend of the road. From Wikipedia:
"Route 66 is an American TV series in which two young men traveled across America in a Chevrolet Corvette sports car. The show ran weekly on Fridays on CBS from October 7, 1960 to March 20, 1964. It starred Martin Milner as Tod Stiles and, for the first two and a half seasons, George Maharis as Buz Murdock. Maharis was ill for much of the third season, during which time Tod was shown traveling on his own. Tod met Lincoln Case, played by Glenn Corbett, late in the third season, and traveled with him until the end of the fourth and final season. The series currently airs on Me-TV, My Family TV and RTV.

Among the series more notable aspects were the featured Corvette convertible, and the program's instrumental theme song (composed and performed by Nelson Riddle), which became a major pop hit."
 Next week decay and revival.

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