Kathy Anderson on Route 66
Videographer & Historian Documents the “Mother Road”
As a child in Pennsylvania, Kathy Anderson loved watching George Maharis on the TV program “Route 66.” Years later, after moving to Oklahoma, she traded her childhood crush on the TV star for the Mother Road itself. A photographer, video producer, writer, director and editor, Anderson has videotaped many legs of the Oklahoma section of Route 66. What started out as a fun video for a friend’s birthday party grew into something much greater.
After videotaping the footage for her friend, Anderson decided to try her hand at making a video for the public by taping travel footage and various sights along the Oklahoma segment of the highway. She found that many pivotal events and characters in the national story of the road centered on Oklahoma. After taping, Anderson set the video to music and released “Cruisin’ Oklahoma 66.” The following year, she introduced a spin-off line of T-shirts and caps. More merchandise, such as postcards, followed. What was once Anderson Productions Video took off in a whole new direction.
Enamored by the historical road, Anderson joined the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, serving as secretary and president throughout the years. She also started the association’s Trip Guide publication and joined the National Historic Route 66 Federation.
Later, Anderson collaborated with Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan to do a video called “Bones of the Old Road,” which was a different approach to the highway. “Bones,” as Anderson calls the venture, is available in VHS and DVD format at the Oklahoma Visitor’s Center on I-35 and NE 122nd and her website (www.cruisinroute66.com). Both places also carry Anderson’s Route 66 memorabilia.
Anderson recently made a video for Elk City where the National Route 66 Transportation Museum is located. Titled “The American Dream and the American Drive,” the video is used in the museum itself.
“I’m also on the idea committee for the new Route 66 Interpretive Center planned for Chandler,” Anderson said.
Along with making videos, Anderson has penned two articles for Route 66 Magazine and several articles for the National Historic Route 66 Federation. In 1999 she entered four Route 66-themed photos in a contest sponsored by Oklahoma Today, the state’s award-winning travel and tourism magazine. Not only did two of her submissions rank in the top nine finalists, but one was chosen as the first-place winner and printed in the March/April 2000 issue of the magazine.
Anderson also attends the annual Route 66 Festival, a gathering of artists and authors interested in promoting and educating people about the historic road. This year the festival will be held in Albuquerque, N.M., Anderson said, and next year, western Oklahoma will host the event to celebrate the centennial.
One of the pleasures Anderson receives from attending the festivals, outside of meeting people with similar interests, is the ability to educate people about Route 66. Anderson said the Mother Road touches people in many ways, most often on a nostalgic level. “Baby boomers traveled with their parents on Route 66 to places like California or the Grand Canyon,” she said. “Some traveled the road east to Chicago.”
The road has lots of historical significance, dating back to the Dust Bowl days when many Oklahomans migrated to California after losing crops and becoming unable to feed their families. World War II military convoys traveled Route 66, and the post-war era found many taking family vacations west on the road.
“The generations following the baby boomers know little about the historical road, having grown up with interstate highways,” Anderson said. But publicity concerning the highway has generated new interest, not only from people of Oklahoma but other states and even other countries.
“Route 66 is still living and breathing U.S. history,” Anderson said. “It can still be experienced.”
To contact Kathy Anderson, visit her website at www.cruisinroute66.com, or e-mail her at [email protected]