Thursday, December 24, 2020

Tales from the Blog: Something extraordinary happens

Prior to this entry, I used the photograph of the Americana Inn as an example of what I would not even attempt to investigate. I reasoned that rest areas, being government owned, were likely to either still exist or be so slow to convert to commercial property that locating their history would be easy. As it turns out, the cast and crew of Easy Rider stayed here in the spring of 1968 while filming the opening scenes. It still operates today and a single king is available on any random Wednesday for $80. That is a steal considering the inflation on the $20 in 1972 would be $124 today.

Granted, the motel has changed from its heyday. The reviews are not great, the pool has long been filled in, the fountain appears dry in the satellite photos and the back section of the motel is now apartments.

While I've been linking a number of things I looked up, I recently linked one I knew of (Magic Fingers) but thought the history was worth including. This made me think perhaps TripTik should have been linked, as well. For those unfamiliar, TripTik was a pre-Google Maps, pre-MapQuest spiral bound set of directions available from the American Automobile Association.

The Marygay egg truck-side advertisement was for Merrigay Farms. While I found a number of ads similar to the one below, I was unable to locate what became of the business.

The typed version of the journal ends at this point. My understanding is the written version continued through the remainder of the trip but the transcription was cut short by the motorcycle accident. We do have some of the remaining pictures which can be used to piece together the rest of the trip. I believe following the stop in Phoenix, he continued on to the Casa Grande ruins. From there he traveled northwest, back through the Navajo Nation, into New Mexico and then to Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. It would then be straight east to St. Louis. If he continued with his original plan to take Route 66, he would then head northeast to Chicago and finally back home to New Baltimore.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Something extraordinary happens

August 3, 1972

8:00 AM
Am writing this laying on a king-sized bed. Now to explain. As I may or may not have mentioned, I’m going to see Fran’s grandmother today. Had originally planned to drive all the way to Phoenix, getting a motel room, cleaning up and trying to find the address Fran gave me. Well, without my Trip-Tik, I no longer have such a good idea of how long it takes from one place to another. As I mentioned, I got to Flagstaff at 11:30 last night, dead on my feet. Couldn’t find a rest area, so checked all campsites near (even drove back 6 miles to a KOA campsite). All were full. Finally stopped at the “Americana.” Asked for the cheapest room. They said still had one with a single king-size bed: $20.80. It then being after midnight, I said OK, took room, pulled off my clothes and took two showers (took a long time to get all the crud off my bod.) Went to bed in enormous bed; put in quarter for “magic fingers” (for 15 min. the bed vibrates.) Turned on color TV to see if it worked (it did) and went to sleep.

Woke up feeling quite refreshed and clean for 1st time in 3 days. Now going to rustle up some breakfast, find a Laundro-mat and head for Phoenix. In order not to make this a full novel, will write again only if something extraordinary happens or when I’m back on the road. Will take one picture of motel.

10:55 AM
Food lousy; landro-mat crowded; and I’m on my way! Stopped for more film. Lots of Indian girls here, but none very pretty. Now is 95 degrees in Phoenix, radio says. On the road – a lot of trucks and cars are trailering or towing bizarre dune buggys. Land is hilly to mountainous with pines everywhere. 116 miles to Phoenix. Water not even warm anymore: it’s hot! Now going down a 6% downgrade, signs says. (So what? Went thru worse in mountains.) Noticeably hotter now. Scrub pines and grass here and there, but mostly sand and rocks. Passed Montezuma’s Well (?).

12:30 PM
Finally got to pass a cop I’d followed for about 10 miles (made me nervous). Pines almost all gone. Heat terrible! Terrible on me and probably worse on car. Weird – 2 days ago about 40 degrees and freezing and now this! Radio says temp at 12:45 is 98 and visibility is 30 miles (no visible clouds).

Note: side floor vents are both open, but incoming air is like having the heater on. (Don’t mean to keep dwelling on the heat.) Scenery still hilly to mountainous. Cactus are everywhere, now.

12:55 PM
Another long downgrade (5 miles), so I cut the engine and coasted. Not to be smart, but to try and cool down engine. I read this once in a book about desert driving in the Sahara. KRUX out of Phoenix. Tall barrel cactus everywhere, just like in the movies. Passed a “gulch.” Didn’t catch the name but wow!

1:15 PM
Stopped at rest area for car and me. Radiator close to overheating, I think. Threw some water on it after it cooled down some. Did not boil over. Took picture of cactus. Tried to get some prickly-pear cactus for the kids, but quit after being stabbed twice.

1:25 PM
On the way again. Passed “Deadman’s Wash.” 29 miles to Phoenix and trucking. A sign on an egg truck I passed said: “The best chicks lay for Marygay.”

1:55 PM
Phoenix. Stopped for gas and directions. This is one of the Self-Serve gas stations you can find all over out west. (Reg. 23¢) You can pump your own gas and pay a cashier. I found I had gone about 5 miles too far already so turned around & headed back. Temperature on bank sign says 106 degrees.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tales from the blog: Whistle of the wind

I found the Gene Merollis/Gordon Wilson jingle connection interesting. Both were Detroit metro Chevrolet dealers around the same time.

Wilson began to make inroads in the Salt Lake City market around 1965 and eventually moved there. Perhaps he noted the success of Merollis' "great, great guy" campaign and took it with him. His obituary does open with the line, "Gordon R Wilson 'The Great, Great Guy!'" However, I remembered a This American Life episode which began with a story about Frank Gari jingles written for various cities but using the same formula. I then expanded my "great guy" search and found some other great guys:

Wanger notes in his interview, "Kind of a cute advertising campaign. It came out of Detroit. I had known the guy that had created the campaign. Remember the Morollis [Chevrolet] ads that ran in the Detroit market? It was just like the Morollis stuff. He was the great, great guy in Detroit."

The 1969 Merollis location is now a Gordon (Stewart) Chevrolet. Merollis itself is now Genesis Chevrolet. The 1969 Wilson location closed in the 1980s.

On to the radio stations...

  • I question the reference to KRUX out of SLC, as we would have to believe the call sign was shared with the Phoenix station or that the signal could travel 600+ miles (a stretch for AM in the daylight hours). I read through SLC radio histories and was unable to locate a similar sounding call sign.
  • I take back what I wrote previously about FCC histories, as I was able to find one for KSUB. It is now a talk radio station.
  • I believe KPEG was actually KPGE out of Page, Arizona. It is currently a country station.

There are two photos missing from this post which were not in the journal: the first is the unnamed "scenic view" from 4:40 PM and the second is the Navajo Bridge from 7:45 PM. Based on the travel times between Imperial Point and Cape Royal, I believe the scenic view may have been Roosevelt Point Overlook.

Lastly, the typist note regarding the illegible river is in the original manuscript. I do not believe I have done any in-text annotations.