I am going to jump back to the Petrified Forest in Arizona. Today I-40 passes between the Painted Desert to the North and the Petrified Forest to the South. In this area of Arizona in 1960 I remember we were still using the old Route 66 while parallel construction of I-40 was going on. We were there in 1960, two years before it was declared a National Park. In 1906 the area was declared a National Monument along with the Death Valley. Today there are visitor centers and marked trails. During this visit, we were pretty much allowed to roam the area without repercussions as you can see in this photo.
|Terry, Larry, Sam and Jerry and a couple of 1960 photo bombers|
Along the way to Missouri, I know we passed through Albuquerque but only remember stopping at a park along Central Blvd (Route 66) and having lunch. Beyond the city limits we began to see signs about a road side zoo. These signs were more frequent than the Berma Shave signs and promised sights you have never seen!! Anyone who has traveled the back roads knows about these tourist traps, except for Judy Leasure. She begged her parents to stop at the zoo so she could see the promised weird animals. I was elected to take her inside as no one else wanted to go. As expected, it was small, smelly, and pretty much just your normal rodents, snakes, lizards and monkeys. As we approached the “Man Eating Monkey” he was involved in doing something that he should have been doing in private!! And that is as far as I am going with that.
Miss Leasure, by her questioning, did not seem to understand what he was doing. The first thought in my head was to tell her to ask her dad. That ought to make the ride in that new Chevy interesting for a few miles. So being the gentleman that I thought I was, that is what I did. I did tell her we were lucky the monkey didn’t throw it at us. Sorry no pictures of this incident.
Oklahoma City provided that iconic view of the Capitol Building with the producing oil well pumping oil in front of the building.
Back then, many state parks were free for overnights, especially along Route 66. Unlike today, the State was trying to keep you near local businesses to help the community. We left Springfield and headed south toward Littlerock to pick up the new Interstate 40. We were taking what today would be called back roads as we tried to cross the borders of as many states as possible on this trip. While doing this, it was necessary to head South to get Arkansas and Louisiana before heading East into Florida. I have no recollection about where we were in Arkansas, but we were getting onto the Freeway/Turnpike. Dad was following a 1959 Ford, you know the one with the backup lights mounted in the rear fender fins.
This guy was doing like 35 miles per hour on the on ramp and there was no traffic what so ever. Dad is getting upset at this guy and honked his horn at him. Instead of speeding up, the guy stops and dad has to swerve to miss hitting him square on. In doing so, the left front fender of 'Ol Yeller catches the right rear fin and puts a perfect concave crease that is just like the back up light in the fin. Little if any paint was lost and the light on the Ford survived. The driver of the Ford wanted to take Dad to the State Troopers and file a complaint but they agreed with Dad that you don't stop on an on ramp. It turned into a lot of lost time and a battle scar on 'Ol Yeller.