Mike Friedman of Mockingbird Books came to the rescue this week as I wrap up the summer semester with my nursing students.
Mike's review of Route 66 took me back to the simpler days of my early childhood in the 1960's. Hoping you will enjoy this thought-provoking and amusing review, as I did.
When Frontier Communications bought the local cable rights from Verizon Communication, the service dropped, without apology, to an unacceptable level. The cable boxes were packaged up and without ceremony returned to them. That left a hole is the viewing of television. Years ago, a series of DVD’s were purchased of an old program named Route 66. Here is the tale.
In the early 1960s a popular television show titled Route 66 aired. It starred Martin Milner and George Maharis at the beginning. Later, George Maharis was replaced by Glenn Corbett. (Two nn’s two tt’s.) The primary writer, as we are all concerned about writing, was Stirling Silliphant. Herbert B. Leonard along with Mr. Silliphant were the program’s creators. There were many guest-writers and many guest directors.
You may find it interesting how many people played roles on Route 66. Robert Redford, Robert Duval, Gene Hackman and Lee Marvin to name a few. Even Rin Tin Tin made a guest appearance. Trying to come up with the name of a twenty-something Gene Hackman was a challenge.
The premise is simple. Todd Stiles played by Martin Milner loses his father, and this young man finds all his circumstances changed. Todd attended Yale, but once the father is gone, he finds himself with a small inheritance and nothing else.
Todd buys a Chevrolet Corvette convertible and he and his buddy Buz Murdock (George Maharis), who worked with Todd at the father’s business, together take off. They intend to find their place in the world. The DVDs were commercial free--I noted there were little or no Ford Motor Corporation cars on the road in the early 60’s, or at least none during the filming of Route 66. That applies to General Motors as well. And Marlboro was the only cigarette. Both Todd and Buz, and all other smokers happened to smoke Marlboros.
None of that is quite as interesting as the America the young men found when they drove into a town to see if they fit there. Todd with three years of Yale, and Buz a tough street kid took jobs picking berries and dates. They took jobs in lumber mills and made friends with people in foundries. They unloaded bags of cement from trucks, one bag at a time. They found work in construction. Once in a while they found less strenuous jobs. But for the most part, they took all the jobs; we are told today that young men would prefer to leave to those recently in this country. And we are told that the jobs would go ‘wanting’ if it were not for those new arrivals.
There are several other social mores of note. This era preceded The Beatles. Jazz seemed the music of choice in nightclubs, or a male or female vocalist. Hemlines were just below the knee and the men usually wore a tie. The people were generally polite.
Sure, there were conflicts. For several shows in a row, Buz would get in a fight and beat one or two or three men in a fist fight. Not that Todd could not also take care of himself. They were a team and watched out for each other.
There were no addicts. No drug war. No graffiti. Were all these things present in our society. Very likely yes, but they were not mainstream.
Why is this post being written? We hear a lot about the decline in our culture. We wish for better times, easier times. If you shrink the entire culture down into episodes of Route 66 what changed is that inflation devalued labor. A room may have cost $15.00 a week, now runs $40.00 a night, but the labor exchange rate has not kept up.
The showroom cost of a 1960 Corvette convertible $3,872. The cost of a 2016 Corvette from the factory $62,500. In today’s world, only a couple of retired dentists could afford to take out on the highway and drive Route 66. Perhaps the title would be Root Canal 66.
Thanks, Mike for your take on this wonderful blast from the past. I thought this gem of a song by Nat King Cole, "Route 66" was in order.
Until next week, sending you peace and hugs,
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