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July 12, 2016- National Park Service Project “The Women on The Mother Road” includes story of the Gypsy Coeds & Silver Streak

July 12, 2016

A website has been launched as part of a National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.  The website is The Women on The Mother Road.  Here is text from the Introduction you will find on the website:

The “Mother Road” as it was coined by John Steinbeck has struck a chord with Americans and an ever growing international audience since its inception in 1926. Its roughly 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles still represent the ultimate American Experience, and almost 100 years later it still beckons the traveler. However, the narrative of the road, as conveyed by popular culture and historical works, has primarily focused on men and often overlooked the experiences of women and girls.

This project, The Women On The Mother Road: Route 66 Web-site and Oral History Project is creating a public history record that sheds light on diverse women’s experiences within a specific but varying geography and over several decades. The time period covered by Route 66’s history from its inception in 1926 to its demise in 1985 and then to its ongoing rebirth represents a national steady march forward for women on all fronts including the domestic, political, social and economic spheres of their lives. The oral histories gathered fit into this wider women’s history context.

That said, the American Experience is not homogeneous and a woman’s experience of a particular decade is impacted by factors beyond just the decades in which she lived and her gender. The oral histories identified for this project reflect the diversity of the people who live and work along Route 66 from Chicago to California.

Check out the story about the Gypsy Coeds on the website, with a focus on their 1940 trip to California, following Route 66 for a major portion of their trip.

The Gypsy Coeds

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  1. I just finished your book and enjoyed it greatly. I thought I would check out the web page. I think you have done a magnificent job of it. One addition that I think would be nice would be for each trip to have an era map with the route (as best as you can determine) that they covered. I also have a 1926 T touring car that I take on long distance drives. In summer of 2012 I drove it from Nebraska to San Diego, California and back. I posted a daily report each evening, and had a lot of people following along. If you are interested the website is still up at At least I can relate to the “gypsy coeds” a little bit from that experience.

    • Steve, thanks for the note, and so happy you enjoyed the book. We have company this week, but I want to take a look at the website you reference. Your idea of adding some maps is a good one. I need to think about how to do that.

      Best Regards,

    • Hi Steve, just went thru your daily reports of your 2012 trip to California from Nebraska. A couple of things really resonated with me. 1.) How tired you left foot would get from holding the pedal down in low gear, and 2.) the sounds your engine made when you had the bearing problem…I think that was while climbing Pikes Peak. Having driven the Silver Streak only on short jaunts, I recognized the downward pressure that needed to be applied in low. I have often thought that it would be tough to do that for long periods of time. These girls were not large, Darlene about 5’2″ and 110 lbs. Her leg must have ached at the end of a day. Also on the trip to California, Ruth in her diary explained the terrible clunking sound the engine started making when the had bearing problems. Your description sounded the same! I bought the Silver Streak on the condition that it ran…and it does. If I were to take off on a 50 mile trip, I feel I would need to get it in a shop and have a mechanic go over it with me looking for issues that might become problems on an all day drive. I’d hate to have a wheel fall off! Thanks again for sharing your posts on your trip!

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