July 9, 2012
The best $1 that I've spent in a long time is a book by Pete Davies called "American Road."
Imagine a 1919 caravan of 46 trucks, early model Macks, Dodges, Whites and Packards, rolling 3,200 miles from Washington D.C. to San Francisco.
A couple of the Macks were chain-driven.
The convoy wasn't just primitive trucks, though. It included a blacksmith and machine shop on wheels, five General Motors ambulances, 11 passenger cars for military officers, and nine Indian and Harley-Davidson motorbikes that scouts road. (Er, make that rode.)
And they carried some sort of pontoon trailer that they planned to use as a ferry to cross the Missouri River at Omaha.
Expecting the heavy vehicles to often bog down in the mud roads, trip planners ordered a custom-wrecker. This $40,000 tow truck "looked like an iron box bolted onto the back of a huge scarab beetle."
What was the purpose of such an ambitious undertaking? A U.S. government and military public relations campaign for interstate roadbuilding.
"This trip was an adventure, a circus, a public relations coup and a war game all rolled into one," so reads the inside book jacket.
And guess what young officer joined these gypsys? Dwight D. Eisenhower, future WW II hero, U.S president, and the man who pushed the advent of the interstate highway system that we use today.
I found this great road story-history lesson at Recycled Reads - 5335 Burnet Road, an Austin Public Library Book Store. It's a great place to find treasures like "American Road." Books cost only $1 or $2 and it is run by volunteers.
Here's the website: www.recycled reads.com
The Southpaw Cedar Park, Texas.