Documentary series examines history of women who built lives along Route 66


From KJZZ: Route 66 is synonymous with the American story.

It conjures up images of the open road, neon signs and Western vistas. In her new documentary, Katrina Parks looks at the history of the women on the “Mother Road,” and how they navigated segregation and gender discrimination to build lives for themselves alongside America’s most famous highway.

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One of McKinney’s oldest restaurants has closed


According to a historical marker on the outside of Bill Smith’s Cafe in McKinney, the neon ‘cafe’ sign dates back to 1950. The restaurant opened in August 1956 and closed in July 2022. (JIM MAHONEY / 112333)

From The Dallas Morning News: Bill Smith’s Cafe closed over the summer after being open in McKinney for 66 years.

The restaurant was McKinney’s second-oldest restaurant, behind Baker’s Drive In, which opened two years earlier, in 1954. Bill Smith’s Cafe is believed to be McKinney’s oldest restaurant continuously owned by the same family.

Owner Bill Smith told WFAA he’s closing the restaurant to focus on his health. The 83-year-old restaurateur has been running the diner for nearly 40 years, when he took over for his parents, Bill and Jeanette Smith.

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Restorations and Renovations; Boots Court Motel shows-off historic progress


From KOAM: CARTHAGE, Mo. – The Boots Court Motel today gave KOAM a sneak peek at the historic motel’s recent renovations.

The business sits along U.S. Route 66 in Carthage and officials say it is one of the oldest remaining motels along the famed route.

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‘Orchards Mall is dead’: Store owner reveals why he is hanging on in barren building


From WSJM: The decline of The Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor is no secret.

From the outside, the only signs of life are the droppings from the summer swarm of seagulls and the insects investigating overgrown weeds in the parking lot. On the inside, just three businesses are open at 1 p.m. on a Wednesday – the Post Office, Born Champions Boxing Center and Doctor ZZZZ’Z Mattress Center.

Doctor ZZZZ’Z owner Norbert Zimpfer is accusing ownership of letting the place deteriorate to the point of being unsafe – leaky roofs, mold, no air conditioning, no heat, no maintentance, no security – and generally having no interest in attracting customers.

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‘Dead Motels USA’ is Keeping the Memory of Retro Motels and Hotels Alive


DeadmotelsUSA via Instagram

From Print magazine: Most modern-day hotel design is synonymous with mundanity. Their cement-grey exteriors loom on the side of highways, and weary travelers enter cookie-cutter lobbies to rest their heads on the same beige loveseats and ottomans. Popular hotel aesthetics are dominated by mind-numbing homogeneity and next to no flair whatsoever— which is a shame, really, when you consider the look of hotels and motels of yore.

In fact, mid-century lodging stood in direct opposition to many of today’s wearisome temples of monotony. These buildings buzzed with charming architectural details, like spunky signage and shag-carpeted conversation pits. Pools glistened with frolicking guests, decks lined with color-blocked tanning chairs, and large aluminum umbrellas, and interiors were adorned with vibrant floral patterns on curtains, couches, and carpets.

Fortunately, those of us who pine for the character of this bygone era can explore the project Dead Motels USA. Since 2018, retro motel enthusiast E. Hussa has dedicated themselves to lovingly archiving these vanishing roadside relics through found postcards and photographs. Below, Hussa and I discuss the project and reflect on their effort to keep these architectural gems alive, long after they’re gone.

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