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Finding Inspiration on Route 66

I spent a lovely Saturday morning several weeks ago with my writing critique group on Route 66. We’ve discussed working together on a project for many years. This time a topic was suggested that had definite appeal to all of us.

To set fire to our story settings and characters, we journeyed along I-40 to visit one of the better known landmarks on Old Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle. The U-Drop Inn in Shamrock was built in 1936 at a cost of $23,000, the Tower Conoco and U-Drop Inn was featured in the 2006 Disney Pixar movie CARS.

At the grand opening held April, 1936, it was considered “the swankiest of the swank eating places.” When Route 66 came through Shamrock in 1937, it was the only eating place for a hundred miles along the new highway. As an excellent example of Art Deco, the building features two flared towers with green glazed ceramic tile walls and neon light accents.

Route 66 was decommissioned in 1984 and Shamrock became one of the many towns bypassed by the super-highway Interstate-40. Through several owners, name changes, and layers of paint, a son of one of the original owners purchased the dilapidated building in the 1980s and restored it back to the original colors and name. Although the cafe does not serve food today, it is immaculately preserved. Today, the U Drop Inn is owned by the city of Shamrock and houses the local tourist information center.

The anthology has a working title: VISIONS ALONG ROUTE 66: Seven Stories set along the Historic Highway. Each story will be unique, told in various genres and time periods, but they will all have at least one scene at the U-Drop Inn.

My character and her journey is based on the life of my husband’s great-grandmother who was given to a much older man. Maggie struggles with her situation and the heartbreak as she tries to understand why her father would barter his own flesh and blood. When she meets her true love at a family reunion, will she decide to follow her heart at the risk of loosing her life?

Stay tuned for more blogs about Route 66, as I continue to research ‘the old mother road’, and be on watch for the date and time for our book launch party. It’s going to be awesome!

Elvis was here! This is the exact corner booth where Elvis sat and ate a meal at the U-Drop Inn, Shamrock, Texas.

If you want to know more about Route 66 and its history, I am currently reading a fascinating book about the man who devoted his whole life to develop a national highway system.

“Telephones, the Panama Canal, steel bridges, skyscrapers, airmail, rural free mail delivery, commercial electric lights, automobiles, and highways — they all happen in his lifetime. This nation is better, and different, because of men and women who rolled up their sleeves and made things happen, often before the rest of the country knew it was possible. People like Cy Avery.” FATHER OF ROUTE 66: The Story of Cy Avery by Susan Croce Kelly.

Members of the WordsmithSix Writers Group research the U-Drop Inn for their upcoming anthology.