Route 66 in the News

Recalling a Trip of Wonder

2009-12-10 09:47:14

LA VERNE, Calif. - At the mention of Route 66, a flood of memories enveloped La Verne resident Noah Jameson.

He's spent his life within a stone's throw of the Mother Road. He was raised in Joplin, Route 66's last stop in Missouri, and lived for a while in Duarte. Now he and wife Rosemary reside in La Verne.

He has trekked the road between Chicago and Santa Monica several times.

It was summer 1940 when a 6-year-old Jameson and his 11-year-old sister Mary traveled Route 66 from Joplin, Mo., to Ontario on a Greyhound bus.

"We sat up front behind the driver because of our ages," he recalled. "And when we were informed that we would be traveling through `Indian territory,' my childish thoughts turned to a story about `Custer's last stand,' and I feared I would be losing my hair."

Jameson described it as a "trip of wonder," recalling his excitement peering through the bus window and catching glimpses of the Painted Desert in Arizona and the places that sold petrified wood.

"We saw two-headed rattlesnakes, some real and some not-so-real, and we passed Indian teepee motels and giant arrows stuck in the ground. At the age of 6, the sites along Route 66 were more wonderful than you could imagine," he said.

That same year, the premier of the motion picture adaptation of John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" was held. In the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Steinbeck wrote about Dust Bowl refugees who traveled on Route 66.

Now, Jameson's home sits near several remnants of the days when Route 66 beckoned travelers west.

Founded in 1887 by Isaac W. Lord, La Verne was originally dubbed "Lordsburg." The founder's dreams of success were soon dashed and he sold his holdings to the German Baptist Brethren Church, which in turn established Lordsburg College, later to become the University of La Verne. In 1906, the town was incorporated and the name changed to La Verne.

Consistent with the history of the famed highway, La Verne joined in the frenzy of opening establishments to offer overnight accommodations and home-cooked meals to Route 66 travelers trekking through the town's boundaries.

Surprisingly, a few of those establishments remain viable today, such as Wilson's Restaurant, now called La Paloma Restaurant, at 2975 Foothill Blvd. It has been serving Mother Road travelers since 1966.

Also, Wolfe's Market and Deli, originally located on Route 66 and Indian Hill Boulevard in Claremont. Still in business today at 160 W. Foothill Blvd., Wolfe's Market "is proud to be family owned and operated since 1917, serving the freshest food with the finest ingredients."

In our quest to visit 66 Route 66 icons, we have now added two more to our list: (7) La Paloma Restaurant and (8) Wolfe's Market. Next week, we will return to the eastern portion of the Mother Road and visit the historic Mojave Desert town of Goffs.

~Claudia Heller, San Gabriel Valley Tribune


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