Kruzin the Mother Road

One Day in the Kruize

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Since I'm a total rookie at this html stuff and since I inadvertantly deleted my one day account of Kruzin the Mother Road, I decided to expand this page to include my account of my Kruize to the NSRA Street Rod National's '97' in Oklahoma City. Previously the page only detailed our visit to Johnny's Bar in St. James, Missouri, on Route 66. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Some months before the Nat's, my closest friend for over 40 years, Wayne Bradley of New Milford, Pa., and myself decided to drive my '41' Chev Coupe StreetRod to those Nat's, spending as much time as we could on Route 66, kind of on a lark.

Having gotten a late morning start from my home in Erie, Pa., on July 28, 1997 we spend our first night at a motel in Englewood, Ohio which is a suburb of Dayton on our, believe me, adventure. See, any time spent with Bradley is an adventure!

Now, the motel is brand new, has a sign proclaiming $24.00 per night. Being the frugal man that Bradley is, he insists we stay at this, it turn's out, iceless and TV remoteless motel! Bradley is humored, it's the price, not amenities that matters. After paying for the room with a $50.00 bill, the VERY disinterested clerk gives me 15 one dollar bills in change. I emphatically inform Bradley that I, ME, will pick the motels for the remainder of the Kruize.

Leaving Dayton the next morning we head west on US40. Having bought some postcards I wished to mail, we stop at a small postoffice in Dunreith, Indiana to get them in the mail.

Having gotten the cards stamped and mailed, we decide to sit in front of the postoffice and have sandwichs and drink's while chatting with an elderly postal patron named "Libby."

Soon, an elderly couple drive up, exit their car and the gentleman proceeds to tell me the year and make of my Rod as well as how he retired from Mattel in California and moved back to Indiana after he lost his wife to Cancer, etc.

Then he tells us that if we're westbound, to turn right at the only traffic signal in town if we're interested, because theres an interesting gas station one block off the main drag.

Folks, he was right! Here stands a perfectly restored "Flying A" or "Texaco" station, right out of the 40's - 50's. It even has the pyramids of cardboard oil cans in the windows, well-worn oak desk, Arfak lube pumps, etc. Everything is immaculate and a '39' Pontiac is parked at the pump's. After some pictures we head on.

Eventually we arrive in Altamont, Illinois which is a sleepy little town. Seeing the uninhabited, shady town square, we pull in and make sandwichs and have a few cold drink's, too. We even talked to the Editor of the Altamont newspaper.

On the road again, we find a Super 8 motel in St. Clair, Mo. Route 66 is across the street so tomorrow a lifelong fantasy will come true.

You'se ever heard of, get this, BAG BALM? I never had, but Bradley can really expand one's worldly horizons on occasions and this, friends, is REALLY one of those times!

See, he's had a rash on the back of his hand that he's picked at incessantly for 2 days, it's driving me up the wall and he wants some BAG BALM!

So, we stop at a drugstore and, no kidding, they have it. It turns out that this goop is a balm that farmers put on cows teat's to soothe them!

The brand Bradley pick's out is called, aptly, I guess, Udderly Smooth. It has black and white cow's udders painted all over the jar. How functional.

After purchasing this stuff Bradley is beside himself with happiness because he didn't have to spend any real money, on a real dermatologist, for a real diagnosis. Jeez!

Oh, Boy! After Bradley ate half a watermelon last night and the other half for breakfast, plus the free coffee, donut's, popcorn, juices and cookies the motel sets out in the morning and getting some free ice, we're finally on the Mother Road.

This day, with perfect weather, the other thing I get to enjoy besides the car is Bradley's non-stop picking at his sunburned nose. Gee, where's the Bag Balm?

Very soon we learn that Route 66 stops, starts, winds and is non-existent, sometime's without warning. But, with the weather, car, Bradley and the romance of the Kruize, life couldn't have been sweeter.

Late in the morning we arrive in St. James, Missouri at a "T" intersection wherein a Route 66 sign points North, though I'm adament we should stay westbound.

Directly in front of is Johnny's Bar with a huge banner proudly blaring, "Welcome Route 66 Cruiser's." What better place to get correct directions and have a "pit" stop?

In my opinion, Johnny's is a must see for any Route 66 Kruizer on the Chicago thru Missouri leg and if plans are made to stop there, one should expect to spend a couple hours and shoot many pics and/or minutes of videotape.

Entering this small town saloon at about 11:00 a.m., on a weekday, there are maybe, 3 or 4 locals at the bar and the elderly lady owner who is very cheerful and courteous.

As Bradley heads for the men's room, I see a full suit of armor next to the door and engage in a nice conversation about it with the barkeep and getting correct directions which I found were exactly as i thought. I guess some "local yokel" wanted all poor, unsuspecting "furriner's" to get lost as part of their adventure. Not to worry, it's quite easy to do on Route 66 in Missouri.

Looking around, a ball of string about 3 feet in diameter catchs my eye as well as many showcases full of Osage Indian artifacts. Hundreds of arrowheads, lot's of spearheads and a few tomahawk heads. You name it, it's in this place.

By now, one of the locals has appointed himself "Tour Guide" and is explaining the history of the region, etc. I was aware the Osage were native to this area but I never expected to see this treasure ( to me ) of artifacts.

On one wall, we are looking at an authentic John Brown Wanted poster when I spot a complete bow and arrow set. Thinking it's of Osage origin, I excitedly call Bradley's attention to it.

I gotta tell you'se. Everything was there. Bow's, arrow's and quiver. Now, the Tour Guide inform's us that ain't Osage Indian stuff, it was brought back from Viet Nam and all of it, ALL OF IT, is made of bamboo! Even the string!

How this contraption that look's sort of like grapevine could launch an arrow is totally beyond me. Of course I'm well aware of just how adept the Vietnamese were and are at creating something out of nothing but this thing just intrigues me no end. And by the way, this was a crossbow, not a conventional bow.

Now for the real good stuff...I have been wondering how all the dollar bills I see sticking to the ceiling got up there, so I ask the lady barkeep.

She replie's, "you want one up there?" and I tell her, "sure, can I put my name and address on it, and how do I get it up there?"

Oh, man. She says, "give me a dollar and a quarter and you throw it up there."

Being, hopefully, a bit worldly I stand on the footrest of the barstool but still cannot reach the ceiling and still I believe she's foolin me.

Reaching for a big, black magic marker she has on the backbar, probably for just these occasions, she give's it to me and I put my name and Erie, Pa., on the dollar and give it and the quarter to her.

At this point, I wish I'd paid closer attention but I got engaged in talking to Bradley so I missed how she folded that dollar to about 2 inches square with the quarter inside along with a plastic pushpin like those used on bulletin boards all over the country.

Handing it back to me, she tells me to toss it underhanded at the ceiling. Doing just that, the darn thing sticks up there! Now, after a few days, the weight of the quarter causes the dollar to unfold, the quarter falls to the floor and that's it, the world can see my name and address on the ceiling of Johnny's Bar in tiny St. James, Missouri!

In the interim, Bradley has bought a Route 66 Guidebook for $20.00 and for him that's a major purchase, so he definitely ain't spending a dollar to put on the ceiling. But I'll tell ya's, that book came in REAL HANDY for the rest of the trip.

After some more smalltalk, we sign the Guestbook and we're on our way, once again. Our next stop, a short lunch/drink one was in St. Robert, Missouri.

All along we marvel at the rustfree cars, especially the amount of mid to late 80's variety. They're very common throughout Missouri.

Opportunities for photos of old cars abound. We see Corvairs, Edsels, a '58' Buick Century Limited, a 50 Ford. You name it, you will probably see at least one, even if the weeds are higher than the car it's parked in.

Eventually we arrive at the Kansas State Line where a "Roadhouse" grabs our attention on the Missouri side and a hugh Route 66 painted on the road surface of the Kansas side. The Roadhouse is on the Missouri side because Kansas is a dry State.

Getting pics of both, as well as a stone motel nearby, we "pit" at the Roadhouse while speculating how many fights occurred inside and out, how many romances blossomed inside and out. This place transports a person back to their youth if they grew up in the 40's and 50's. Indeed, how many, say 50 Fords "laid rubber" leaving here? How many feet have trodden the dance floor, the parking lot?

Soon we depart, pass thru Quapaw, Ok., and arrive in Miami, Ok., where we decide to get a motel which, I assure you, I pick.

Now, all our lives Bradley has been a huge fan of ice cream and chocolate milk. So, he heads to the convenience store across the street for both.

Hot Dog!!! When he get's settled in, working on his treats, he discovers the chocolate milk is curdled. See, this is a huge laugh for me because he thinks I'm too picky when it come's to restaurant food. Oh, do I laugh at him. Of course he returns it, gets another and is totally satisfied now. He didn't get screwed out of a dollar, or whatever the damn milk cost him. Ah, Yes. Thank God for Bag Balm!

I'm up at 6:30 a.m., he finally make's it at 7:45. Three years younger than me and he will not admit he's feeling those 51 years.

In Stroud, Ok., we find our first curio shop where we purchase some gifts, he gets me a Route 66 license plate for my Rod, a t-shirt for himself. I can't get a shirt, the one I want is not big enough to cover my belly.

Somewhere between Stroud and Acadia, if memory serves me correct, we are flying along when we see these few Rod's at a saloon. Half a mile up the road, we get the old girl reined in and make a "U-All," jargon from our youth meaning a U-turn. After getting back there, we snapped this picture from across the road and then went merrily on our way, westbound on the Mother Road, once again.

Not to worry, though. In Acadia, Ok., I get a t-shirt as well as a couple bottles of Route 66 rootbeer at$1.50 a bottle. Not bad though, cause his shirt was $17.00, mine $11.00.

Nearby, on the left side of Route 66 as you're headed toward Oklahoma City, is the Rock Cafe which has some nice Route 66 t-shirts and great food. This a a beautifully authentic Dust Bowl era building, the Owners are very garcious and I highly recommend stopping there, both for T-Shirts, signs and other memorabilia, as well as the food.

Very soon we arrive at our motel in Ok. City, check in, unload the car and head for the registration motel, then the fairgrounds.

Be sure, if and when you're in Ok. City, to go to the site of the Murrah Bldg., bombing. It evokes totally different emotions than those experienced when viewing it on television.

My next Kruize, hopefully, will be Route 66 from Oklahoma City to California not only for the "romance," of the trip, but to see and visit one of my Best Friends since childhood, Jack Taylor. Now, January, 2001, HE goofed me up and moved back to Pennsylvania, though I do get to see him once in awhile, when he comes down here, to Sunny South Carolina! And, I'd also like to Kruize Highway 61 of Bob Dylan fame.

In conclusion, I must agree with Cris at that Missouri must be on an austerity kick, Route 66 signs are few and someone riding "shotgun," is a definite plus when Kruzin Route 66 thru that Great State. Too, the Route 66 Guide we got in Johnny's Bar REALLY helped us stay on course.

Thank you for Kruzin in and please sign my Guestbook.


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