Cyrus Avery of Tulsa, Oklahoma and John Woodruff of Springfield, Missouri are given credit for coming up with the idea of a roadway linking Chicago and Los Angeles. Their dream sat idle until Congress approved a national program of highway development. In the summer of 1926, the projected road was officially designated as Route 66. Connecting urban and rural communities, the highway provided a significant way for a still young America to open the way west for people who had never left their small town to discover their vast country, for the trucking industry to get their cargoes across the nation, for the military to be able to more rapid mobilizations, and for people who were looking for a new start.
Finding ways to link people still matters. The wonders of social networking are products of this ever-expanding information age but Facebook will never replace face to face. We need to be linked, in good times and bad. We need each other’s presence. We need to close the distance between us, particularly in a day when our differences are being overemphasized.
We need community. We need to feel we belong to something bigger than ourselves. We need interaction to share our beliefs, opinions, and passions. We need human touch whether it’s a hug or a kiss, a slap on the back or a kick in the pants.
Speaking of kicks, Bobby Troup, former pianist for the Tommy Dorsey band, wrote a lyrical tribute to the famed highway and included the phrase “get your kicks on Route 66” – sung by Nat King Cole in 1946. John Steinbeck proclaimed Route 66 as the Mother Road in his 1939 classic, The Grapes of Wrath. In the 1960’s, a television series captured the nation, starring Martin Milner and George Maharis who drove their sporty Corvette down the famous road looking for adventure.
The route represents a basic need for humans – a need for adventure. But, just like the two guys in the sports car way back when, adventure is most often best experienced with people we care about. Thank you to friends and family for remembering me on my route 66.