Quick kicks on Route 66

Route 66 – Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
    If you ever plan to motor west,
    travel my way, take the highway that is best.
    Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

    It winds from Chicago to LA,
    more than two thousand miles all the way.
    Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

    Now you go through Saint Louis, Joplin, Missouri
    And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
    You see Amarillo,Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff Arizona.
    Don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.

    Won’t you get hip to this timely tip,
    When you make that California trip
    Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

    Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
    when you make that California trip
    Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
    Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
    Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Last Friday afternoon, I filled up my tank (0nly $1.49 premium) and I swear I wasn’t trying to be wasteful, but really needed a quick jaunt south to clear my head.  With very limited time and funds, I headed to Joplin, Missouri…oddly, a town I haven’t ever been to, even though it is only 2-2 1/2 hours away.  (Now, I have only one more town in that fabled song to visit, Winona)

I had zero expectations other than a little peace on the open road.  Decided to walk a little after dinner to see downtown. Surprisingly, Joplin still has a lot of great neon and one very cool old theater. 
Wilders Steakhouse
1216 Main
Built 1929
Wilders has been a fixture in downtown Joplin since the late 1920s.  As one passerby told me, “It’s Historic!”  It was expanded in the 40s with a complete renovation, including an upstairs gambling parlor, which was finally shut down by the feds.  Vern Wilders restaurant finally closed in 1976.  After a number of owners, the restaurant has been restored to much of its original glory.  And with the whooping and hollering that was going on inside this chilly night, the spirit of good times lives on. 

Fred and Red’s
1719 South Main Street
Established 1923
Famous for their chili, tamales and spaghetti red as well as coney dogs, chili burgers and frito pie…so bring your Tums!  With 22 bar stools around the u-shaped counter, it is reported  to often a line.  Besides is heartburn-evoking menu, one of the most unique features of this diner is a home-made tamale press created from scrap Model T Ford car parts.  Believe it or not, it used to manually make 5,400 tamales a week. Be forewarned, smoking is allowed in this tiny place, but credit cards and checks are not. Closed Sundays and Mondays and all of August.  Alas, it closed just as I was shooting these photos…
Fox Theater (now Central Assembly Christian Life Center)
415 South Main Street
Architect: Larry P. Larson
Style: Mission/Spanish Revival
Built: 1930

Back in the 1920s, movie mogul, William Fox built or purchased a number Fox Theaters across the country.  Originally opened as the “Electric Theatre,” this one in Joplin had its heyday in the time of Bonnie and Clyde’s infamous crime spree.  The Joplin police attempted to arrest the two, and they escaped, killing two Joplin police officers.  They did leave behind their camera, and the Joplin Globe printed what has become possibly the most famous photos of the duo.
I was particularly enthralled with the broken tile mosaic in the front lobby. 

I couldn’t resist this sign…and loved  its funky 70s vibe.