The Mother Road Revealed

‘Hip Historian’ examines how Route 66 became an American icon in Pine Library presentation


Marshall Shore, the “Hip Historian,” donned a suit jacket covered with iconic images for his Jan. 24 presentation about Route 66 — The Mother Road as coined by John Steinbeck in his 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Marshall Shore, the “Hip Historian,” donned a suit jacket covered with iconic images for his Jan. 24 presentation about Route 66 — The Mother Road as coined by John Steinbeck in his 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” Photo by Max Foster. |

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Calling himself the “Hip Historian,” Marshall Shore entertained listeners crowded into the Pine Library Activity Room by spinning tales of iconic Route 66 and the role it played in John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Shore’s Jan. 24 presentation was part of The Big Read program of the National Endowment for the Arts that has sponsored historical offerings around the state, including most small towns along  the route Steinbeck tagged “The Mother Road.”

After leaving Pine, Shore stayed the night in the historic La Posada, on old Route 66 in Winslow and then led a presentation at nearby Hubble Trading Post, both historic in their own right.

From Winslow, he headed for Kingman where he stayed in the Hill Top Motel, a classic Route 66 stopover. Kingman is also home to the Route 66 Museum.

Shore spent 20 years as a librarian before one day deciding to tour the state talking about classic Arizona history, determined not to look back later on his life and regret his choices. His presentations begin with the late 1920s and move forward to the present day, focusing on the many small towns located along The Mother Road.

While Shore says he likes to stick to the facts, he has fun with the presentations he calls edutainment — one part education and one part entertainment.

He appears in a suit coat covered with iconic Route 66 images including truck stops at Jackrabbit, Twin Arrows and others that dot the road from Houck on Arizona’s eastern boundary to Kingman on the west. His talk focuses on the roles that music, television and even the American automobile played making Route 66 an icon.

“All the fun started once the car got here,” Shore says.

Shore says that along the way he found people are willing to share their own stories. “The best material comes from people, and some stories are in danger of being lost,” he said.

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