Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Silver tongued wordsmith Ned Jordan of the Jordan Motor Car Company was well known for his prose and ability to create evocative, emotion stirring advertisement. In its time his Somewhere West of Laramie piece was as well known as Dinah Shore encouraging folks to see the U.S.A. in their Chevrolet. 
Several days ago I was contemplating the current state of Route 66, its future, and its fast approaching centennial. As I waited to flip the garlic and onion filled burgers my thoughts began to wander as they often do at such times and soon I was contemplating what Ned Jordan would do to promote this road. How would he attract a younger, more diverse audience? 
In 1927, the road was promoted as the Main Street of America. In 1946 people were encouraged to get their kicks on Route 66. 
While both slogans remain relevant and popular, they are also sepia toned with a bit of fraying around the edges. What new slogan or promotion inspires adventure on the double six today? What slogan, as with the road itself, aptly bridges the gap between the past and future today? 
Professor Nick Gerlich, a fellow Route 66 enthusiast with a devotion to unraveling the mystery of successful marketing may wish to chime in here. My thinking seems to be rooted in the type of marketing that pushed poor Dobbins from the streets and filled them with clanking, smoking Fords and Buick's, Jordan's and Studebaker's. 
Scattered here and there among the international legion of Route 66 enthusiasts are fresh young faces not yet creased by the passing of the years. They are the ghost of Christmas future on the legendary double six. They hold the key to successfully marketing this iconic old highway and keeping it alive for the second century.
Zdnek and Eva Jurasek of the Czech Route 66
Watch this clip of Kumar Patel with Harry Smith of NBC News on Route 66. Listen to the honest reverence for this storied old two lane highway; that is the future of Route 66, that is the voice of the next generation of stewards.
Watch a few of these videos that chronicle the adventures of "Roamin'" Rich Dinkela. This is how to lure a younger generation through the promise of adventure, this is another steward that will ensure the road is as popular in its second century as it was in the first.
Take the time to visit with Chris and Katie Robleski, examine with a critical eye their innovative photographic work at Fading Nostalgia, bask in their enthusiasm for the road less traveled and legendary Route 66, and imagine the scores of future adventurers that they will inspire. Here too we see the ghost of Christmas future.   
Route 66 may be an American treasure but the passion it inspires is international in nature. The army of enthusiasts from France and New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands, Norway and the Czech Republic who seek an authentic American experience on this old road that has become America's longest attraction are also the ghost of Christmas future. 
Their infectious passion and enthusiasm challenges Americans to be caretakers and stewards, adventurers and historians. It also inspires a hunger to ignite a passion in a new generation of caretakers for the treasures of Route 66. 
I am not sure what the slogan for the new century will be. I only know that the old road is in good hands for another century as long as folks like Kumar and Rich, Kevin and Rick, Chris and Katie, Karel and Hanneke, Jeroen and Maggie, Oscar and Daniel share their enthusiasm and passion for the legendary double six.    

1 comment:

  1. The Mother Road has helped renew interest in two-lane highways and for that, it will continue to ride on forever.

    As for Route 66 itself, whenever I have traveled parts of it I feel a sense of awe and mystique. Yet, as Texas Country and Western singer Johnny Bush looked back on, "No two journeys ever end the same." Whether you are going into the High Plains of Tucumcari or the desert filled Mohave in Needles, the experience is always going to be unique.

    Thanks for the reminder, Jim.


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My Photo

I was born in North Carolina but am a product of the desert southwest with its vast, panoramic landscapes where spires of weathered stone cast long shadows under cloudless skies. It was there that I became enamored with the road less traveled, adventures on those forgotten roads, and the people you meet along the way.
For more than forty years I have explored the hidden places, the forgotten places, hungered for the colorful history found there, and sought the empty highways and dusty tracks that were once pathways to opportunity and the land of dreams.
These adventures and a fascination for the history of the formative years of the American automobile industry, and the resultant societal evolution, are the foundational elements of my published work. This work includes a former position as associate editor with Cars & Parts magazine and a monthly column, The Independent Thinker, and more than one thousand feature articles for various magazines and newspapers.
Additionally, I have written more than ten books that reflect these interests and chronicle my adventures including Checker Cab Manufacturing Company Illustrated History, The Big Book of Car Culture, Backroads of Arizona, Route 66 Backroads, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Ghost Towns of Route 66, Route 66 Treasures, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia.
Meeting with tour groups, speaking engagements, providing travel planning assistance, and lectures round out what has become known as affectionately as Jim Hinckley's America.
In addition, my wife and I are also photographers with a lengthy and colorful resume of work appearing in magazines and books, on corporate websites, in a wide array of promotional material, and now, a photo exhibition in the Czech Republic. Our prints are currently sold through a limited partnership with Legends of America.
This would include prints of photos appearing on our blog, Route 66 Chronicles.

Author Jim Hinckley

Author Jim Hinckley
Somewhere on the road less traveled

Jim Hinckley

Jim Hinckley
Jim Hinckley in his native habitat, the road less traveled

Follow the camels!

Follow the camels!
Follow the camels to Kingman


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