Saturday, June 27, 2015

Following the Joads: Sallisaw to Amarillo

The Joads are unarguably one of the most famous families in classic American literature. Author John Steinbeck chronicled their plight as they crossed the country via Route 66 in his classic novel The Grapes of WrathWhen making the 1940 movie version, director John Ford dispatched a second unit to film locations along the Mother Road.  On our recent road trip west, we attempted to document many of these literary and cinematic locations as our journey took us through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.  In this first installment, we are following the Joads from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to Amarillo, Texas.
"The ancient overloaded Hudson creaked and grunted to the highway at Sallisaw, and turned west, and the sun was blinding."
The Joad farms were near Sallisaw, Oklahoma.  Depression-era Sallisaw was known for being a boyhood home of notorious bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd.  Several times in the book, Ma Joad mentions that she knew Floyd's mother.  Floyd was killed by law officers on October 22, 1934 in a Ohio cornfield.  His body was returned to Sallisaw for public display and funeral and he was buried in a cemetery in the nearby town of Akin.
Similar to many other small towns, downtown Sallisaw is a shadow of what it was seven decades ago when the event of The Grapes of Wrath took place.
Renowned photographer Dorothea Lange photographed farmers in downtown Sallisaw in 1936.  It is not hard to imagine Pa Joad and his brother John among these desperate men who were worrying through the drought that was ruining their crops.
"From Sallisaw to Gore is twenty-one miles and the Hudson was doing thirty-five miles an hour. From Gore to Warner thirteen miles; Warner to Checotah fourteen miles; Checotah a long jump to Henrietta-thirty-four miles, but a real town at the end of it.  Henrietta to Castle nineteen miles, and the sun was overhead, and the red fields, heated by the high sun, vibrated the air . . . Castle to Paden twenty-five miles and the sun passed the zenith and started down . . . Near Paden there was a shack beside the road and two gas pumps in front of it; and beside a fence, a water faucet and a hose.
In Paden, they stop to buy gas and their dog is struck and killed by a passing motorist.  They would have been traveling old Route 62 through Paden.  Today, I-40 cuts through the Oklahoma countryside five miles south of the town. The station they stop at in Paden is "a shack beside the road with two gas pumps in front of it."  At one point in the narrative, the owner contemptuously refers to the "yella-painted company stations in town."
Left: "a shack beside the road with two gas pumps in front of it."  Right: What was likely a "company station" in downtown Paden

"Paden to Meeker is thirteen miles, Meeker to Harrah is fourteen miles; and then Oklahoma City--the big city.  Tom drove straight on.  Ma waked up and looked at the streets as they went through the city.  And the family, on top of the truck, stared about at the stores, at the big houses, at the office buildings.  And then the buildings grew smaller.  the wrecking yards and the hot dog stands, the out-city dance halls." 
Oklahoma City 1942
"Oklahoma City to Bethany is fourteen miles."
It is in Bethany where the Joad family ends their first day of travel.  They meet Ivy and Sairy Wilson and it is there where Grampa Joad suffers a stroke and dies.  Bethany has essentially evolved into a suburb of Oklahoma City.

In the movie The Grapes of Wrath, director John Ford presented a montage of second unit footage that represented the family's first day of travel.  One mistake the film made was showing the Hudson pull onto Route 66 just after leaving the farm.  In reality, 66 did not pass anywhere near Sallisaw, and the Joads would not have begun traveling the Mother Road until Oklahoma City.
A sequence then reflects their travels via shots of city limits signs from Sallisaw to Chicotah to Oklahoma City.

Footage from Albuquerque, New Mexico was used to represent Oklahoma City.  The actual shooting location was Route 66 at 104th Street SW in Albuquerque.
Footage filmed in Sayre, Oklahoma prominently featured the Beckham County Courthouse. But again, it seems it was intended to correspond with Oklahoma City.

As in the book, the Joad's first day of travel in the film ends with Grampa's death.  They pull the truck to a deserted roadside where they bury the family patriarch in an unmarked grave. The movie did not indicate the Bethany location, and also did not include the Wilsons, in whose tent Grampa passed away.

The second unit footage shows the truck pulling off the road just west of the 38-Span Camelback Bridge (or Pony Bridge) over the Canadian River on old Route 66 near Bridgeport, Oklahoma.  The location is fairly accurate to the Joad's travels, as it was just forty miles west of the book's Bethany setting.

The location today remains nearly every bit as isolated as it appeared in the film, The Pony Bridge however is a popular spot for Route 66 aficionados.

Following the death of Grampa, the film uses second unit footage to show the Joad's traveling across desert landscapes that should correspond to Oklahoma and Texas.  But they pass a sign advertising Camp Keyton, a hotel in Winslow, Arizona.  The Winslow Inn motel now occupies that space at the corner of North 2nd Street and North Prairie Avenue in Winslow.

"Joads and Wilsons crawled westward as a unit; El Reno and Bridgeport, Clinton, Elk City, Sayre, and Texola.  There's the border, and Oklahoma was behind.  And this day the cars crawled on and on, through the Panhandle of Texas.  Shamrock and Alanreed, Groom and Yarnell.  Then went through Amarillo in the evening, drove too long, and camped when it was dusk."
Amarillo, Texas 1943
To be continued in Following the Joads: Amarillo to Barstow.

Screenshots copyright 20th Century Fox.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Go West Young Man! St. Louis, MS to Winston-Salem, NC

Our final day was a straight drive home with no stops nor sightseeing.  We will be featuring highlights of our trip in posts here and at 2719 Hyperion in the weeks ahead.  First up will be the aforementioned Following the Joads series.  Stay tuned.

Today's Music:
"Can't Get Indiana Off My Mind" - Shannon Forsell
"Kentucky Rain" - Elvis Presley
"My Old Kentucky Home" - Jennifer Ivester
"Blue Moon of Kentucky" - Patsy Cline
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" - John Denver
"Homeward Bound" - Simon and Garfunkel
"Back Home Again" - John Denver
"Carolina on My Mind" - James Taylor
"I've Been Everywhere" - Johnny Cash

Listen to the entire Boom-Pop! Road Trip playlist on Spotify!
Check out our Disney-related Road Trip posts on 2719 Hyperion.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Go West Young Man! Ellis, KS to St. Louis, MS

Winding down the road trip as we cross the Midwest through Kansas and Missouri.  We did break up the drive some by visiting Disney-related sites in Kansas City and Marceline, Missouri.

The McConahy Building in Kansas City was the location of Walt Disney's Laugh-O-Grams studio in the early 1920s.  The local non-profit Thank You Walt Disney has been valiantly attempting to restore it for years, but as the photo indicates, it's been a very challenging endeavor.

Also in Missouri is the small town of Marceline, significant as Walt Disney's childhood home and the location of the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.

For more details on these Disney Missouri locations, visit our companion site 2719 Hyperion.

Today's Music:
"Lost Highway" - Johnny Horton
"The Road and the Radio" - Kenny Chesney
"East of the Rockies" - Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer
"Kansas City" - Charlotte Greenwood
"Kansas City" - Fats Domino
"Meet Me in St. Louis" - Judy Garland.
"St. Louis Blues" - Louis Prima
"You Came a Long Way From St. Louis - Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney

Listen to the entire Boom-Pop! Road Trip playlist on Spotify!
Check out our Disney-related Road Trip posts on 2719 Hyperion.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Go West Young Man! Moab, UT to Ellis, KS

A very long drive today with great scenery early on and monotony through the late afternoon and evening.  We started the day in Arches National Park.  This is definitely a hiking park; of the park's 2000 arches, only a few are visible from the road.  Still a stunning location, but our timetable did not permit any extended time out of the car.
Interstate 70 through Utah and Colorado was stunning, especially the climb through the Rocky Mountains.  We took a detour to Mount Evans just west of Denver.  It was well worth it.
Another long day of driving today through Kansas and Missouri.  Not much in the way of scenery or pop culture.

Today's Music:
"Don't Fence Me In" - Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters
"Lost River" - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
"Springtime in the Rockies" - Don Edwards
"On the Road" - John Denver
"I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado" - John Denver
"You Wild Colrado" - Johnny Cash
"The Colorado Trail" - Don Edwards
"Rocky Mountain High" - John Denver
"Rocky Mountain Moon" - Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong

Listen to the entire Boom-Pop! Road Trip playlist on Spotify!
Check out our Disney-related Road Trip posts on 2719 Hyperion.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Go West Young Man! St. George, UT to Moab, UT

Today was more scenery than pop culture.  We started the day in Zion National Park and the scenery was jaw-dropping.  Like the Grand Canyon, photos do not do justice to the reality of this amazing place.
That's a bus in the distance to give you an idea of the scale involved.
From Zion, we headed east into the northern edge of Arizona.  The scenery remained constant (as in eye-popping) and we soon found ourselves at Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam.
Next stop was Monument Valley and some film history pop culture.
Goulding's Trading Post was frequently director John Ford's base of operations when filming many of his classic western films such as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Searchers.
The panoramas were every bit as impressive as when Ford committed them to celluloid.
The trading post building and a smaller out building were prominently featured in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.  The smaller building is now called John Wayne's Cabin and the interior is a recreation of the original studio sound stage set.

Tomorrow we begin our day at Arches National Park, then continue into Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.

Today's Music:
"Road Trippin'" - Steve Wariner
"Blacktop" - Carey Colvin
"Real Gone" - Sheryl Crow
"Everyday is a Winding Road" - Sheryl Crow
"Highwayman" - The Highwaymen
"Running on Empty" - Jackson Browne

Listen to the entire Boom-Pop! Road Trip playlist on Spotify!
Check out our Disney-related Road Trip posts on 2719 Hyperion.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Go West Young Man! Victorville, CA to St. George, UT

Our shortest day of travel and a nice break despite driving through the heart of Las Vegas. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.  At the beginning of the day we found ourselves back in the Mojave desert.

Before arriving in sin city, we made a quick stop in Goodsprings, Nevada.  It was significant to my son Jake as a location in the video game Fallout 3.  I was interested in its history relating to the tragic deaths of Carole Lombard and 21 others when their plane crashed into nearby Potosi Mountain on January 16, 1942.  (More in a future post).  In Goodsprings, we visited the Pioneer Saloon and Goodsprings General Store.  Potosi Mountain can be seen looking north behind these two establishments.
A cruise up and down the Vegas strip was enough for us.
Despite the 107 degrees temperture, I did jump out of the car for a photo of the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.

Heading north, we experienced a spectacular drive on I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge, but unfortunately did not get any photos.

Tomorrow is an early start to beat the crowds at Zion National Park, then head east through Monument Valley.

Today's Music:
"Let's Go to Vegas" - Faith Hill
"Viva Las Vegas" - Elvis Presley
"One Step Over the Line" - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
"Movin' Right Along" - Kermit and Fozzie
"Lost Highway" - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
"Thunderstorms and Neon Signs" - Wayne Hancock
"Nothin' But the Taillights" - Clint Black

Listen to the entire Boom-Pop! Road Trip playlist on Spotify!
Check out our Disney-related Road Trip posts on 2719 Hyperion.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Go West Young Man! Southern California

Today we escaped the escaped the boundaries of Disney fantasy and headed out to discover some Disney reality.  We headed to Los Feliz to track down Disney-related locations from the 1920s and 193os.  Our companion site 2719 Hyperion will showcase the details in an upcoming post.
From Los Feliz we headed into Hollywood looking for nostalgia and history, only to discover a three-block tourist trap (gravitating outward from the Hollywood and Highland complex) that was annoying and unsettling.  We were able to filter out a few highlights amidst the tour barkers and unlicensed gratuity begging costumed characters.
 There was not a problem with the camera nor the exposure.  That's air pollution,

The highlight of the day was the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour.  It was a terrific two hours showcasing the studio's massive Burbank complex and a stark and welcome contrast to the shenanigans we encountered on Hollywood Boulevard.

 On our way out of Burbank, we took a quick look at the Walt Disney Studios.  Sadly, the only tours they offer are special event tours via D23 or as a premium from their Disney Movie Rewards program.
Finally, we had a pleasant surprise when Google Maps routed us through the San Gabriel Mountains via the Angeles National Forest Highway so to avoid evening rush hour on the major highways.
Today's Music:
"Get Your Kicks on Route 66" - Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters
"California Dreamin'" - The Mamas and the Papas
"Barstow" - Bill Morrissey
"Hotel California" - The Eagles
"City of the Angels" - Fred Astaire
"I Love L.A." - Randy Newman
"Hooray for Hollywood" - Rosemary Clooney
"Boulevard" - Jackson Browne

Listen to the entire Boom-Pop! Road Trip playlist on Spotify!
Check out our Disney-related Road Trip posts on 2719 Hyperion.