Route 66 in the News

Co-Founder of Iconic Motel Dies

2009-01-05 20:21:29

CARTHAGE, Mo. - One of the original co-owners of a Route 66 icon in Carthage has died at the age of 102.

Ilda Boots, who with her husband, Arthur, built, owned and operated the Boots Motel on historic Route 66, died Friday, Jan. 2, 2009, at the Glenpool Nursing Center in Glenpool, Okla.

The Boots Motel, along with the Boots Drive-in across the street at the intersection of Garrison and Central, was built in the 1920s, about the time Route 66 received its official designation from the federal government.

Mrs. Boots was born Nov. 25, 1906. According to her son, Bob Boots, “Even though I went through 82 years with her, it’s hard to imagine the changes she went through. Teddy Roosevelt was president, he accepted a Nobel Peace Prize, a great earthquake tore up San Francisco, the first Model T would soon roll off the line and would eventually be sold for about $240 each. In a few months, Oklahoma would become the 46th state, Chicago AL beat Chicago NL in the World Series. The Mutt and Jeff comic strip began in San Francisco, Greta Garbo was born, Kellogg invented corn flakes and half of America lived on farms or in town of less than 2,500 people.”

Bob was born in Bagnell, Mo., near Lake of the Ozarks.

“Mom was a Penny Town Quinn, one of them coon hunting Quinns,” wrote Bob. “Mom’s grandmother was the matriarch of the Quinns of Penny Town. Penny Town was an even smaller settlement than Bgtnell. It was just ‘two whoops and a holler’ up the railroad spur from Batnell.

“We were hillbillies and I say that with a certain amount of pride,” continued Bob. “Not everyone gets to have that experience, certainly not in the present times. Bagnell was a village of some 200, of course a ghost town now. It was Dad who brought the first electricity to town. He brought a gasoline motor generator and hooked up the first light bulbs. It created quite a stir. Grandpa Boots had the first silent movie there. I faintly recall the piano player.”

Bob calls his mother the “angel” of the family, always smiling and easy to get alone with.

“She was the mediator and confidant,” he wrote. “When anyone wanted a birthday cake, they would go to Mom for an angel food cake. She baked me one every year on my birthday up until she was 80-some years old. She was an angel indeed.

She was very much involved in the operation of the Boots Motel.

“In fact, she ran it during some of the World War II years when Dad was working down in Pryor, Okla.,” wrote Bob. “She had a friend named Zella clean the rooms, and she did the rest.”

Ilda and Arthur were divorced while Bob was still in the Air Force.

“Dad built Boots Drive-In, but my uncle and I bought him out after a few years and Mom worked for us for many years afterwords,” said Bob. “She looked after the gifts and souvenirs, reordering as needed, took cash and checked out the register and maybe the most important thing, greeted the customers with a smile. She was an integral part of Boots Drive-In for many years, even after I left and came to Tulsa.”

According to an article written by John Hacker of the Carthage Press in 2007, “Route 66 snaked its way across the country from Chicago to Los Angeles. The old route came into Carthage on Central Avenue, then made an abrupt turn at Garrison and another quick turn and left town on Oak Street bound for Brooklyn Heights, then Carterville, the Webb City then Joplin.

“The corner of Garrison and Central became what it is today, the busiest intersection in Carthage, and Arthur Boots decided to build a motel and drive-in eatery at the corner.”

According to current owner Vince Scott of Carthage, the Boots motel is still much as it was in its heyday.

Survivors include one son, Robert A. Boots, Tulsa, Okla.; two grandchildren and one great- grandchild. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Arthur and one sister, Irene Baxter.

~Buzz Ball, Carthage Press

 

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