Day Four on Route 66 — Bringing an old Sinclair station back to life

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(June 27, 2016) PARIS SPRINGS, Mo. — George Boswick came ambling out of the nearly 100-year-old  garage at Gary Turner's Sinclair Station on old Route 66 in the village of Paris Springs where he had been working in the 90 degree heat. "How can I help you," he asked, obviously ready to help us.

For the next 45 minutes he regaled us with the vision that he and his friend, Barbara Turner, have to return the service station attraction to its former glory when it was a mainstay on the route from Springfield to Carthage. The business long ago was turned from a working service station to a tourist attraction by owner and operator Gary Turner, who died in 2015. He called his Sinclair "museum," which featured several antique cars and trucks, Gary's Gay Parita.

His daughter, Barbara, wanted to keep the well-known Route 66 attraction open, so she and her friend, George Boswick, arrived from Charleston, S.C., in April to begin the revitalization of the station, which was established in 1926. "I wanted to do this in memory of my dad, it was his dream," she said. It is just one of several stories we've heard on the Mother Road during our trek from downtown Chicago to Santa Barbara following the old road where-ever possible.

Check out Rich Henry's rabbits on Day Three of our Route 66 trip

The MotorwayAmerica crew of Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman and their wives, Luci and Trudye, began their adventure in Chicago on Thursday and the fourth leg of the trip Sunday took them from Cuba, Mo., to Carthage, Mo., about a 190-mile jaunt. Today the wanderers will make their way from Carthage to Yukon, Okla., north of Oklahoma City.

The refurbished Wagon Wheel Motel on Route 66 in Cuba, Mo.

The nostalgic trip includes staying at period motels that are being remodeled and reopened as more and more people are traveling the 2,400-mile route and want the total experience of motorists during the road's heyday. One such place is the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Mo., which touts itself as "the oldest continuously operating tourist court on Route 66." The 80-year-old motel has recently been remodeled. "The ozark stone buildings with the original wood doors, windows, and floors from the 1930's have been updated for modern comfort," the motel proclaims in its literature.

We found our room inviting with a new air conditioning system, newly installed wifi, and comfortable mattresses. Some of the past remains — there are no telephones in the rooms (but who needs a phone in this age of cellphones?) and the sink portion of the bathroom is out in the main room. We rolled our rollerboards over stone walkways to get to the room.

Cuba, a town of about 3,300 people, has transformed itself into the "Route 66 Mural City." Murals have been painted on the walls of at least 12 buildings — we counted more than 12. It's an interesting way to attract people into the downtown area.

We discovered that following the path of old route 66 is not an easy task. The road moves back and forth between being a frontage road for the interstate system to stretches of actual old portions that still wind through the countryside. The only way a Route 66 adventurer can get the full flavor is to purchase one of several books, which describe turn-by-turn where to go and how to get there to stay true to Route 66. One of the problems is that Route 66 was decommissioned more than 30 years ago and no longer remains part of the nation's road system. And it was upgraded and rerouted in various areas through the years making it necessary to decide which path to take — the pre-40s road or the newer version.

It has been estimated that 85 percent of the road remains in some form and we plan on driving every mile of it.

We have steadfastly maintained that we our going to stay as close to the old road as possible. This has resulted in getting lost on at least a couple of occasions. But the fun is to find your way back to old 66. In that regard we have discovered that Illinois and Missouri have done a remarkable job in marking the route with Historic Route 66 signs.

So it's off for a new adventure today in the hopes of getting more kicks on Route 66!

Photos by Jim Meachen