Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Now that I've maintained this blog for several months and have attracted some new readers who don't really know who I am, I thought I'd tell everyone how I got started with my passion for Route 66 and my obsession with Route 66 postcards. (Also, I don't have much else to talk about today, I'm afraid.) :-)

The story of how I started collecting Route 66 memorabilia isn’t particularly unique, although sometimes I think I’ve taken my passion further than most people do, and for that reason it has shaped my life in many ways. When you ask a “roadie” how he or she got interested in Route 66, or the Lincoln Highway, or U.S. 1, or any of the old two-lane byways that crisscrossed our nation in its early days, 90% of the time the answer will be “because I have such fond memories of traveling those roads with my parents when I was a kid.” That’s my answer, too. I was blessed with a father who loved auto travel, and a mother who was patient and understanding of Dad’s and my passion for the road. We took numerous road trips, and I was often taken out of school for such adventures, since my parents always managed to convince my teachers of the “educational value” of our wanderings. My happiest childhood memories are of setting up headquarters in the back seat of our car (I was an only child) as we roamed the Southwest… the Deep South… the Canadian Rockies… the Blue Ridge…. the Grand Canyon… Central Florida… and points in between.

I started collecting roadside memorabilia before it was even considered memorabilia. I’d pick up the free postcards that were always offered at motel desks, I’d sweet-talk waitresses out of menus from diners, and I’d spend way more than I should have on pennants, plaques, ash trays, and other tacky souvenirs offered for sale at tourist traps. My collections alternately grew and shrunk depending on the housecleaning whims of my mother.

As the years passed and I became all grown up, I retained some of these early acquisitions and also added to them via antique shop and flea market purchases. Then, on a sailing trip to Maine with my husband in the early 1980s, I managed to acquire over 5000 roadside postcards in one bunch, and at a bargain price, too! While sorting this astounding find, I realized that a large number of the cards were from old Route 66, and they brought back such vivid memories of our yearly trips out to the Grand Canyon and California that I separated them out from the others and decided that, from that moment on, Route 66 would be my primary collecting interest. Now, years later, I have about 5000 Route 66 postcards along with an estimated 15,000 roadside postcards from other parts of North America. I specialize in motels, but also love cards that depict diners, tourist traps, wigwams, and Main Street scenes with old cars. On top of all of that, I also have another 5000+ postcards of other specific subjects such as cards showing smoking smokestacks, cards of 1950s Miami Beach motels, Cliff House in San Francisco, South of the Border in S. Carolina, Victorian erotica, cards showing chenille bedspreads, orange Danish modern chairs, and so on.

All of this led to us moving to Route 66 in Oklahoma, where we bought an old gas station in need of restoration in which to display my roadie memorabilia and his rather extensive vintage car collection. We're divorced now, but still own and run Afton Station together. It's all good!


Beth said...

I've been reading you for a while, but this was all new to me, too! Fascinating, and I am so envious of the postcard collection find in Maine--WOW, what a score!

We didn't travel Route 66 when I was a kid, but took road trips twice a year--Minnesota in the summer and Florida in the winter. I loved road trips then, and I still do today.

From one roadie to another...!
Hugs, Beth

Trevor Hilton said...

With me, I remember hearing Manhattan Transfer's version of "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" on the radio. That got me interested in learning about it.
I didn't really get into it, though, until about 10 years ago. When I had to drive back and forth between here and Tulsa I would take it.