The opinions expressed on this web page are solely those of the individual letter writers.
Reflections on John's Modern Cabins
by Shellee Graham
The very first time I saw John's Modern Cabins was in the 1988 book
"Route 66: The Highway and its People." That b/w photo really did
something to me, I really wanted to see that place. Then I finally got
to see the cabins in 1990 or 91. I was very, very excited. I was
thrilled. There was something so wonderful about these old cabins, in
ruins with the wonderful vintage neon sign reading, "John's Modern
Cabins." Of course we rather like the incongruity of these classic
cabins with the words *modern* being touted above. I truly enjoy
seeing what once was, especially on these lovely older roads like U.S.
Highway 66. It's like travelling back in time, experiencing history
firsthand. I don't want to just read about these places, I want to see
them, touch them, experience them in my own way. There is something
that is hard for me to explain but I am just a sucker for American
history, vintage architecture and the enduring neon signs. John
Dausch's cabins encapsulates all of that. Seeing the cabins there on
the service road makes me happy, it's just that simple. I've been
photographing the cabins and the sign (every year) for over 10 years.
I even have a touring exhibition of photos called, "Return to Route
66: Photographs from the Mother Road." Of course, John's Modern Cabins
has a prominent place within that show. Many, many people love the
quaint shacks. It's like a pilgrimage to go out there under the trees,
wander around beneath the trees and pick your spot to take a few
photographs. WE all just enjoy ourselves and love the idea that we can
learn about Route 66 without being inside of a classroom.
In my book about the Coral Court Motel, I even utilized a small
photograph of John's cabins because I wanted to illustrate the history
of the motel: from camps, to cabins to little cottages. What better
way to tell about it than to show the cabins from John's Modern
The charming wooden structures have been included in many Route 66
books. People are looking for them, they want to see the lovely,
rustic cabins that they have read and heard about. With so many
landmarks disappearing, we desperately need to preserve what we can of
our own Mother Road here in Missouri. Please, please try to save them.
Copyright ©2002 Shellee Graham
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My Plea For The Right To Die Naturally
Cheryl Hamons Nowka explains the benefits of allowing landmarks to remain in place and be used as magnets for tourism and commerce.
I am so sad to hear of plans to tear down John’s Modern Cabins. I got a beautiful postcard for Xmas this year that showed these cabins covered with snow and it's so beautiful even in its decay.
I didn’t know these Cabins existed until I read Ron Warnick’s article about them in the Route 66 Magazine last year. He went into the depth of the history of the place and showed actual court documents on the incidents that occurred there. I have since been wanting to see the place to get a feel for the history I now know that is behind it. Knowing the past of a place like this makes it even more interesting and the desire to want to retain it because it was halted in its prime because of it's history. That to me makes it important for JMC’s to be allowed to die with time and decay if it is not worth it or possible to restore them.
Some people think that the Cabins are worthless and will get the owner sued someday. I tried to tell my Mom, owner of LUCILLE’S, the same thing about her old place years ago. I was born in her old Route 66 gas station in 1948 and I was not ever comfortable having people in and out of my life daily as Mom was. I kept trying to get her to tear the place down and build a 7/11 convenience type of store since 3-M company had a big plant just 5 miles West of her. I thought she would get much more trade from people commuting to and from that job than Route 66 travelers.
Thank GOD my Mom did NOT listen to me. She had a heart attack in 1989 and I brought her to my home in Las Vegas, NV to recover and begged her to stay here with me. I wanted her to sell her station and buy a 2 bedroom home next door to me so I could look after her and be with her as she got older and sicker. But this was not what my Mom wanted. She told me that after she rested for 30 days she was going back to her business and buy her own Route 66 memorabilia and she would make that place profitable again. I told Mom it would never work that there could not be enough interest in Route 66 for her to survive on the income from only 4 main months of summer travel. Guess what..? Mom made a liar out of me.
Mom went back to her business in July 1989 and bought her own coffee cups, t-shirts, postcards and more and we even published her biography. She sold enough books in one year to pay for getting her old gas tanks in compliance with the EPA regulations.
My Mother and the Route 66 travelers proved to me there is enough interest in Route 66 for people to make a living on it even up until they are 85 years old. My Mom died at age 85 at her place on Route 66 in August 2000 and she died very happy and content that she showed me that she and Route 66 were both survivors in spite of what I and others think that grew up on the road and remember it when the road was busy all the time.
Right now good money could be made just selling postcards to people showing the place as it was in its days of Greatness. You could sell t-shirts, coffee cups and all sorts of memorabilia that would help you be able to pay for the insurance on the place and still allow people the wonderful opportunity to stand in front of this place of memory to ponder and photograph it. I beg you to PLEASE…. PLEASE.. not tear down our history that will further destroy the PRIDE we have in Route 66 today. We need to know someone still loves that place whether it is opened for business or dying of old age like we all will someday.
Copyright ©2002 Cheryl Hamons Nowka
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Help Save Route 66
By David Knudson
For over 75 years, Route 66 has crossed the heart of America,
demonstrating the delights and realities of a wide cross-section of our
country along the way. The highway has come to symbolize the spirit and
freedom of America, and the pursuit of the American Dream. The mere
mention of the legendary road inspires reverie, tales of adventure, and
the evolution of our modern culture. The essence of the route is alive
in the minds of millions throughout the world via song, film, books, and
It became apparent, however, perpetuation of this American
symbol would be dependent on a coordinated, nationwide effort to
preserve significant and representative physical resources along its corridor.
To address this need, in 1999 Congress passed Public Law
106-45, the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act. The Act was legislated
with the intent of creating a program of technical assistance and grants
that will set priorities and precedents for the preservation of Route 66
cultural resources. In addition to preserving a national symbol, the
initiative will potentially stimulate business and economic growth in 30
congressional districts in the eight states through which the route
passes. A majority of these districts include rural communities in need
of economic enrichment, which is possible through Route 66 heritage tourism.
To meet the objectives of the Act, the National Park Service
established the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. To date, the
Program has provided a series of cost-share awards and grants to help
preserve and restore the most significant and representative resources.
The Program will legislatively terminate at the end of fiscal
year 2009 at which time the Act anticipates that the National Park
Service will have successfully developed the Program to enable a
non-federal entity (or entities) to continue the Program's purpose.
Since the Program was established in April 2001, the Program
has acquired partners which include federal, state, city, tribal, Route
66 association and other invested representatives.
The Program has provided cost-share awards and grants in each
of the eight states through which Route 66 passes with the funds going
toward the preservation of the legendary road's resources.
To fulfill the purpose of the Act, $10 million was initially
authorized for appropriation for fiscal years 2000 through 2009.
$500,000 was appropriated in fiscal year 2001, and $300,000 was
appropriated in fiscal year 2002. Both appropriations represent the
funding used to support all Program requirements including
administrative costs and grants for preservation.
The submitted budget request necessary to meet projected
program needs in fiscal year 2003 is at $1.25 million. Please vote for the appropriation and help us save Route 66.
The Mother Road thanks you,
David Knudson, Executive Director
National Historic Route 66 Federation
P.O. Box 423, Tujunga, CA 91043-0423
Web Site www.national66.org
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Promotion of Route 66 Tourism
By Carolyn Hasenfratz
This letter was sent to Missouri Senators and Representatives in July 2002.
I am writing to you because you serve a state that contains part of Historic
Route 66. I am a member of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, a history
buff, and a Route 66 fan and traveler. I hope you will consider supporting
the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act and other efforts that help to
promote appreciation of Route 66 and our shared cultural heritage.
In my opinion there has never been a better time to promote tourism on Route
66. Since the events of last September, many Americans are rediscovering a
sense of patriotism and want to learn more about our history and culture.
Concerns about travel safety are encouraging Americans to travel by car
within our own country.
Route 66 is also extremely popular among tourists from other countries. I
have encountered many Europeans on Route 66 - they tell me that the Route 66
TV show is in reruns in Europe and it inspires viewers to experience the
open road for themselves. I don't need to tell you that the money they spend
does a lot of good for the small communities they travel through. Another
consideration in encouraging foreign tourism is the understanding of our
country that visitors will hopefully bring back to their communities with
them. The more Americans they meet and get to know, the more they will want
to unite with us in our efforts against terrorism.
Preservation of Route 66 sites and artifacts is critical - the tourists will
not come if there is nothing left to see. Many grassroots and corporate
efforts are underway now. The task is huge and we need all the help we can
get, whether it comes in the form of funds, or legislation that makes our
task easier. Like everything else, preservation needs to be balanced with
other needs of your constituents while deciding how best to use our
resources. Please consider the economic benefits of preservation and tourism
while making your decisions.
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The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act
By Carolyn Hasenfratz
This letter was sent to Oklahoma Senator Dr. Coburn in November 2008.
I am writing to you to urge you te reconsider your position on the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. I refer to this paragraph from your web site:
"Several tourism related measures, including a couple that have already become a favorite piggy bank to pay for congressional earmarks, such as the Save America’s Treasures program, the Preserve America program, and the Route 66 Corridor Preservation program. The Route 66 program is currently restoring aging gas stations, motels and restaurants. Unfortunately, tourism has declined with many Americans unable to afford the cost of gas and, as evidenced by this bill, Congress’ misplaced priorities threaten to drive up the cost of travel."
I consider myself to be a fiscal conservative. I'm a member of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, and a frequent traveler on Route 66. It's hard for me to consider the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program as a piggy bank for congressional earmarks, which I don't like the sound of either, when I'm familiar with the properties that receive grants. They are not large operations with lots of power in congress. For example, the Donut Drive-In in St. Louis was a recent recipient of $10,000 from the program in the form of a cost-share grant. The business came up with the other $10,000 necessary to restore their neon sign. Here is a photo of the sign, which was relit on Nov 1 of this year - Donut Drive-In. Members of the Route 66 Association of Missouri were there with the owners and their families to celebrate.
The owners of the Donut Drive-In were made aware of the program by members of the Route 66 Association of Missouri Neon Preservation committee, who put them in touch with people who could help with the paperwork. The efforts were successful, and the beautiful sign after being dark for 25 is now delighting Route 66 tourists and neighborhood residents alike. The business saw new customers within a couple of hours of the sign being switched on. Two men who lived nearby came and talked to us a bit and said they had lived in the neighborhood for 5 years but decided to come over and get donuts for the first time because they saw the sign.
This modest victory was started through a grass-roots effort by ordinary citizens, not large powerful entities with power and influence. Just members of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, who come from all different walks of life but share a common desire for Route 66 and all the small businesses along it to prosper and make our country stronger. I'm an employee of a small business, own an even smaller business on the side, and I, probably like you, am apprehensive about what impact the current political climate will have on small businesses. Anything that hurts small businesses is likely to do serious damage to our economy, which does not need more problems. Is this a good time to take away a program that has allowed many historic small business, who have hung on against all odds through the construction of Interstate Highways and all the changes in travel that came with them, to regain some of their vitality, and strengthen the neighborhoods around them at the same time?
I don't believe your statement that "tourism has declined with many Americans unable to afford the cost of gas", as least as it applies to Route 66. In September, our Association hosted our 19th annual motor Tour, a three day trip on Route 66, and the attendance was higher than normal by about 20%. Please read this press release from Vacation.com that I posted on our web site some time back - Missouri Named No. 3 State Vacation Destination. Please take note of this sentence - "Most Americans are not giving up vacations altogether, but looking for one-stop destinations closer to home."
Route 66 passes through eight states, including yours, putting it within range of millions of Americans who want to take a short vacation closer to home. And please keep in mind that it isn't only Americans who travel Route 66. American tourists are likely to find themselves in the minority at some Route 66 stops. For example, last September at the Munger Moss motel, part of the group from our motor tour shared the motel with tour groups from Germany and Norway. I have met Austrians in Santa Fe and Holbrook, Arizona, Swiss tourists in Phelps, Missouri, Australians in Albuquerque and Spaniards at Route 66 State Park in St. Louis County. In your own state in September 2007, our group was touring the restored Coleman Theatre in Miami, and we were joined by a Portuguese couple taking their honeymoon trip on Route 66. Europeans aren't deterred by what we consider gas prices, since they are used to much higher at home.
I know that it is a hard job deciding what to fund at any time, especially when resources are scarce. I hope when you make your decisions that you'll consider the impact on our American heritage, and American jobs.
This was not included in my letter to the Senator, but if you would like to see what properties have recieved grants from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, please see the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program web site.
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