Route 66 – How “Tow Mater” Got His Name ~
Route 66: We are remembering our Route 66 road trip – driven in 2008 ~
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As we said good-bye to Missouri and crossed into Kansas, I jotted a note in my little traveling spiral notebook that read, “Kansas stinks!” Literally… I don’t know what they were growing (or raising) but there was a stretch of road that just reeked! No offense to anyone who resides in Kansas, but Whoa….
It was in Kansas, I believe, where we discovered Happy Hour at Sonic and whenever possible we’d pull into a Sonic Drive-in and order slushes at some ridiculously next-to-nothing price. So good on a hot day!
We came across this beautiful bridge and while he can’t tell you why, it was Abi’s favorite bridge on the trip. It was quite special.
We followed 66 through a blink of a town called Galena and there was a beautifully restored gas station and the name of it was “4 Woman on the Route.” Sitting on the lot next to the gas station there was an old rusty tow truck parked – with big green eyeballs in the windshield. I told Abi it looked just like the tow truck in the Pixar movie, “Cars.” It was one of those, should we stop or should we keep going to keep on track moments?” We voted to stop and I’ll always be grateful for that decision.
The gas station was purchased and completely restored by 4 local women and the tow truck was the model for the movie! We met Renee, who was just so friendly and out going. She loved to tell their story and she had a photo album with the whole story complete with newspaper articles and emails from Pixar.
As she told it: Seven limousines passed through Galena, they were scouting locations and ideas for the film. As a side note: one of the local men in town is double-jointed, at the knees, and he can turn his feet completely backwards (his picture was very disturbing) and so when the Pixar executive met this man, they were inspired to have Tow Mater be more efficient when driving backwards! We were there for probably 30 minutes just listening to her stories and looking at their pictures.
They had a contest with the local school children to name their truck and one little girl came up with Tater. One of the 4 women also bought an old dilapidated house that used to be the town brothel and she hopes to restore it and open a B & B.
We looked up the history of the town and when the mines were open they had a population of 30,000 but when the mines closed in the 1970′s it nearly destroyed the town and they are down to 3,000. The 4 of them are bound and determine to bring the town back to life and put Galena on the map – and I’m pretty sure they’re going to do it. We have met some great people on this trip and these women are high on the list.
There is actually only 13 miles of Route 66 that crosses the southeast corner of Kansas and they were 13 of the best miles on the trip!