This is a regular column consisting of historical material as told by Ralph Oliver of Calhan, Colorado. Mr Oliver grew up on Route 66 in Oklahoma, and shares his memories here.
#19 - October 16, 2005
Dark Day For Route 66 Business Owners
May 16, 1953 was an important day to travelers of U.S. Route 66. It was the day the Turner Turnpike opened to traffic and nearly put my parents' cafe out of business.
The cafe was located on the south side of Route 66 on our 160-acre farm, about six miles west of Chandler, Oklahoma. The Mother Road ran right down the middle of our farm. In addition to diverting hungry Route 66 travelers away from our cafe, many of whom needed gas and other necessities, the new turnpike cut off seven acres on the northwest corner of our farm, making that amount of land unuseable as we couldn't get to it without driving several miles to an overpass.
So we just left that piece of land to the quails and rabbits. The Turner Turnpike did the same damage to our livelihood business as Wal-Mart stores did years later to many small merchants in other Oklahoma towns. But, alas, that's history and times are always changing.
Ralph Oliver has been a writer, educator, historian, and trading post proprietor, and currently resides near Colorado Springs. His observations, recollections, and musings on a life begun on the Mother Road will appear here periodically.