Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 10 Carthage (MO) – Branson (MO) 27th June

Day 10 begins the night before at the drive In... in 1985 Paul remembers a drive in theatre in Ryde in Sydney or at least the remnants of one. Carthage is the only surviving Drive In on Route 66 and that’s thanks to the owner who had been running the old site as a salvage (car wrecking) yard. Mark figured he wouldn’t lose any more money with a Drive In than the he was and with local help got the old theatre up and running. Today thanks to support from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office the Theatre does a roaring trade Friday through Sunday, no booze and all kept pretty well under control thanks to the off duty cops presence.

Morgan, Sydnie, Teddy and Payne are regulars and were fascinated at why we’d bother to take photos! Two movies for $7 per person... a great atmosphere and a great way to keep several hundred teenagers off the street.

With late sunset and two movies the night went into the wee small hours... we rose at 8am and set off for Sringfield. There are two on this trip and Homer is resident at neither we understand!

The diversion around the edge of lake .... brought contact with yet another tortoise... this one quite also oblivious to the dangers of the modern motor vehicle.

 The landscape and climate is changing as we head north.. the temperature not quite at 100 but the humidity is rising to meet it. The fields are green, hay is being cut, corn will soon be harvested and the oak trees and others highlight the difference between this and the earlier desert shrouded states.

The entire route is off the Interstate 44. In several places the road actually dates back to the mid 1920’s and was in remarkable condition.


Little towns like Spencer, Paris Springs, Heatonville and a handful of other communities make up a significant part of Route 66’s history in this area. Gary Turner built his replica Gas Station to honour a long since demolished site and fitted it out with everything period. He is an ardent supporter of the Mother Road and all too happy to talk about it with folk passing through. He was on yard duty today, so his daughter had the honours of telling us about the history.

Through Springfield there were plenty of reminders of the golden past of Diners and gas stations, as had been the case on approach.

America’s main street continues on north toward St Louis, but for us we would take a right and head for the entertainment capital of America. No,  not Broadway or Hollywood, but Branson, Missouri. We’d never heard of it but fifty miles south of 66 is a main street that rivals Las Vegas for neon and Disneyland for themes. It began back in the 60’s on the back of a dam project being built nearby. The location provided the inspiration for the Beverley Hillbillies Tv series with five episodes being shot here in later years. The advent of a theme park in 69 and musical venues in the early eighties established the city as a strong hold for family entertainment.

We grabbed a live musical performance tonight that would rival anything in the major music capitals. Six brothers who sing unaccompanied. Unaccompanied because while some sing lyrics, others sing the instruments including bass guitar, drums and any other instrument required to make up a number. Their repertoire is extraordinary ranging from blues to classic, rock ‘n roll to contemporary... even a bit of gospel a cappela.

It was a great evening but it’s back to the business of the Mother Road in the morning.

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