What’s buzzin’, cousin?
Like a child returning home by some unknown force, I keep coming back to the Mother Road, Route 66.
This time, we decided to kick our boots off at what was once labeled the “Crossroads of America.”
I know that is Indiana’s nickname, but set that aside for a moment because this is a different one.
This “Crossroads of America” is where Route 66 (running east to west from Illinois to California) and Route 71 (running north and south from Canada to Louisiana) come together for a short respite. This is also where, in 1939, Arthur Boots built a gas station that was later transformed into his motel, BOOTS COURT- 107 S. Garrison Ave., Carthage, MO.
In fact, you can still see the oval in the pavement where the gas pump was removed back in the 1930s. The current owners, sisters Debye and Priscilla (aka “Pixie”), are currently restoring the motel back to its heyday glory. Though still a work in progress, several rooms are available.
This charming motel’s mostly historically accurate 1940s amenities include radios, period furnishings and decor, and feather-like soft mattresses. Mind you, televisions were not standard in motels at this time, so you may need to choose a more nostalgic way to pass the time.
Fun fact: air conditioning predated televisions. So no worries, they DO have air conditioning.
And they have free wifi, because you can’t see that so it won’t clash with the era.
And car ports! This is so your crazy fans will not see you and your car.
It was little perks like this that attracted celebrities to Boots Court. Celebrities like Clark Gable.
Yes, there are two rooms at Boots Court that are recorded to have been occupied at some point by Clark Gable, and if you reserve your room early enough, you can request one of these rooms. Which I did, of course.
That’s right, Clark Gable slept in this room. I spent the night in Clark Gable’s room! It’s just too bad he wasn’t there… well, the 1940s him, the current him would not have made for a particularly pleasant experience. Not to mention the fact that my mother was in a rollaway near the foot of my bed, that would have made it even more awkward.
The chairs in the front of the motel are for traffic watching, which was/is a common practice amongst historic Route 66 motels. I know, our A.D.D. society thinks that sounds dull, right? There are a few things you have to consider, though. First, this was the Crossroads of America, and Route 66 is still considered to be iconic for road trips. That means a large variety of traffic. Secondly, remember that there are no televisions in the rooms. Thirdly, you can be sure to get a front row seat to watch the neons come on.
It’s possible more notable people stayed at Boots Court, but unfortunately one of the previous owners threw out all of the original registration books.
So how do they know Clark stayed here and what room?
While sitting outside enjoying the heat and the lights, Pixie told us a story. When Clark was at Boots Court one night, he wanted a T-Bone steak. Clark’s “somebody” (it’s unclear who this was. A bodyguard? Groupie? Maybe Clark himself) went across the street to Red’s, a restaurant, to get him one. They did not have any T-Bones, so the manager of Red’s went to the next door grocery store to get one. The grocery store also did not have any T-Bones, but the manager there said they had some very nice sirloins, so they prepared and personally delivered it… to room 6, the room we stayed in.
It is also known that he stayed in room 10, but I did not get the story on how we know this.
An added bonus for your cyclists: we met a father/daughter team in the process of cycling from Chicago to Oklahoma City via Route 66. They recommend https://www.adventurecycling.org to create cycling maps for pretty much anywhere in the world you would care to go.
Now you have an entire adventure set out for you. Get yourself a good bicycle, a Route 66 cycling map, and cycle through the back forty to stop in the 40s for the night. Or park your car in the carport on your road trip, for those of us lacking proper will and coordination at the moment…
Until next time, dahlings…