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Route 66 in Pop Culture

Dust Bowl Farmers on Route 66

Route 66 first entered popular culture in John Steinbeck’s epic 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath. In the novel and the 1940 movie, the Joad family escapes from the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma and journeys along Route 66 for a better life in California. Both the novel and movie provide a vivid look at the early history of Route 66. The movie was filmed in 1939 and features on-location shots of Route 66.

Getting Your Kicks on Route 66

The perfect road trip music for driving Route 66 was released in 1946 with the song, Get Your Kicks on Route 66. First recorded by Nat King Cole, the song has since been covered by dozens of artists and groups throughout the decades. It’s memorable lyrics list towns along Route 66. Interestingly, a version recorded by Perry Como includes an extended intro and a second verse not heard on other recordings.

The Beat Generation Drives Route 66

The 1960’s was a time of powerful cars and restless youth in America. The CBS TV show, Route 66, captured this wanderlust as two young men traveled along Route 66 stopping in a different town each week. The show lasted for four seasoned and painted a vivid and often poetic image of small town life in the United States of the 1960’s. Watch Route 66: The Complete Series to see the road as it was in the early 60’s.

An Animated Route 66

A whole new generation was introduced to Route 66 with the 2006 animated movie, Cars. Viewers see the tragic story of Radiator Springs, a popular stop on Route 66 that disappears from the map when the interstate bypasses the town. The story of Radiator Springs mirrors the loss of traffic and business suffered by many small towns on Route 66 after the interstates were created. A visit to Seligman helped inspire the plot to the movie. Watch the movie Cars for an animated and heart warming look at Route 66.

Gifts for Route 66 Fans

Looking to buy a gift for the Route 66 fan in your life. Here are some suggestions from DIY Travelers.

  1. The Grapes of Wrath Novel (1939)
  2. The Grapes of Wrath Movie (1940)
  3. Route 66 sung by Perry Como
  4. Route 66: The TV Series (1960-64)
  5. Pixar’s Cars (2006)
  6. Route 66: The Mother Road 75th Anniversary Edition

Next Stop: We follow the lead of the main Favorite Small Towns series at DIY Travelers and hit the road for Nevada. Our next Extras feature will provide more details on the historic Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, NV.

About DIY Travelers
DIY Travelers is the real life travel triumphs and tragedies of blogger Giuseppe Macchiaverna. A regular guy giving world travel a try. You can follow his escapades across social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Please let us know what you think at info@diytravelers.com.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this articles are affiliate links for which we receive compensation. If you do purchase any of the linked products, we thank you for your support.