Saturday, June 16, 2012

On The Road, Texas - June 1952

After World War II, American families hit the road for their summer vacations. And a lot of those vacations involved driving west on Route 66! Todays photos are not terribly exciting by themselves, but I can't help imagining being a long drive across the US, looking forward to seeing the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, and eventually winding up in California for a dip in the blue Pacific Ocean or a visit to Hollywood. No Disneyland in 1952, sorry! 

In this first picture, we are passing through Groom, Texas. Unless you needed to fill up at the Mobil gas station, everybody passed through without stopping. I love the old billboards, and the big open sky in that flat northern part of the state.

A search of Google Map's street view shows that one of those grain elevators is still there. If anything, Groom looks like more of a ghost town today than it did 60 years ago - probably due to the huge I-40 that bypassed Route 66.

Here's another photo, probably taken near Groom (though it is only labeled "Texas"). The land is dead flat as far as the eye can see; there are some signs for White Swan Coffee, the Sunset Motel, the Spanish Court Motel, and what appears to be a beer ad. But best of all, there is an old (coal fired?) locomotive chugging toward us! Look at that sooty smoke, what a mess. I'll bet this train was replaced by a diesel locomotive not long after this picture was taken.

I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at historic Route 66!


Anonymous said...

The town looks more like "Gloom" than Groom!

Nancy said...

Wow, how cool. very pretty out on the open plains. I cant imagine living in a flat place; you have to look hard for such a place here in Pittsburgh. In the eastern part of PA there is more farming but here we pretty much go from one hill to the next.

Hard to tell but in photo one it looks like we have someone waiting for someone, a ride maybe?, with a suitcase there on the ground behind them. it is prolly an optical delusion, tho, and not a person at all!

DonaldTDuck said...

Hey, I was born in June of '52! We drove to California in '62 and '65 and came back via Route 66 both times, as far as St. Louis. That's what I remember of Texas, flat flat and more flat.

Katella Gate said...

From Amarillo to Arkansas that's what all the small towns look like. I wonder what was so interesting that they took this particular picture?

When I drive through that part of the country, I usually stop in Shamrock, the first large town down the road. They have an old 30's service station that was the model for Luigi's Tire Palace in "Cars".

Anonymous said...

Great post to go along with the opening of Cars Land and the imagineered (and beautifully imagineered, at that) Route 66 that now exists at California Adventure!

HBG2 said...

Love those photos. Reminds me of all the cross-country road trips we took when I was a kid, back and forth from California to the midwest.

And yeah, like Anon says, perfect for Cars Land opening. (I can call him Anon cuz we're old chums. Mr. Anonymous to the rest of you.)

Debbie V. said...

you hit the jackpot with these photos - for me Route 66 brings back many happy memories traveling with my mom and dad. I do remember how the landscape changed from California to Southern Illinois - from many times looking out the backseat windows. Gas station bathrooms. Souvenir shops in the middle of nowhere. The smell of "green" air once you got just past Tulsa. The Howard Johnson's overhead coffee shop on the turnpike. Jack Rabbit Arizona. Traveling in a 1960 Ford Galaxie with no air conditioning. After a long stretch of no civilization - at least for a little girl from the 1950's suburbs of L.A. - this little town of Groom was a respite :)

Anonymous said...

Judging by the hood ornament; they are in a Mercury. Possibly a '51 Monterey. I drove many times from the OC to San Antonio, TX, and it all looked just like that. Would never do it now because of the "war zone" in Arizona.


Alonzo P Hawk said...

Wow, as Tony would say these are grreat! Number 3 would be awesome (to frame and hang on a wall) if it was scanned larger and cropped to include just train, road and billboards. True americana.

Thanks as usual

SundayNight said...

#3 is such an evocative photograph. That train! Wow.

David said...

A lot of these towns faced death after the interstate system was born. When I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles you saw these towns off in the distance, rusted, withering, some barely hanging on in the stale, western sky.

It was a reminder of time long past. Still, you take the 10 freeway out of Los Angeles and it don't take long to see some of that vanished history, those and get misty eyed at those halcyon days of fireflies and lavender.

Major Pepperidge said...

Anon, I think that the camera is doing some "vignetting" that is causing some of that gloomy effect.

Nancy, I think you are right. Maybe they are waiting for a Greyhound bus?

DonaldTDuck, and Katella, there is still a part of me that wants to do an epic drive across the country... and if possible I'd love to take the old Route 66 roads. I'll have to do a Google search for that service station in Shamrock!

Anon, I confess that the tie-in with the opening of Cars Land was a mere coincidence!

HBG2, my family was from Chicago, where Route 66 started... I'm sure *somebody* must have made that long treck!

CoxPilot, I am impressed that you can ID that car from such little evidence.

Alonzo, Maybe it would be better to just try to "clone" the car out of the picture (not horribly difficult with Photoshop)!

SundayNight, I am with you. I love that train!

David, even though I "get" that things change, there was a kind of romance to Route 66 that no other road seems to evoke. It is a shame to see the many abandoned buildings (I've only seen the photos), places where people once lived their whole lives.

Major Pepperidge said...

Ooops, sorry Debbie V, I skipped you by accident. Your comment is awesome! I love the description of the "green" air. Howard Johnson's... man, it has been FOREVER since I've even seen one. Are they around any more? The Ford Galaxie makes me think of my parent's old Buick station wagon... no air conditioning, and the most uncomfortable wagon area, where we layered sleeping bags and pillows and lay comatose in the heat!

HBG2 said...

Debbie V....

Two words: Wall Drug.

Debbie V. said...

HBG2 - I had to look it up but yes, the jack rabbit icon appeared on a variety of signs
starting miles away from the actual store. I clearly remember browsing through the store of knickknacks - my mom still has a monkey she bought there. I probably bought a post card of the capitol building of Arizona - one of my favorite collections..
One thing I also remember is just being able to PULL OFF the road under a tree and get out my mom's cold fried chicken and maybe some cookies for a quick lunch.
I remember Texas because that's where the grass starts - AZ and NM were so much about rocks and dirt, but very pretty rocks and dirt :)