RESOURCE:

"Hamons Court" Neon Sign

Grade Range: 9-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Source
Date Posted: 5/28/2013

>The Hamons family business exemplifies the culture of roadside communities that sprang up as long-distance automobile travel increased. Carl and Lucille Hamons lived on Carl's mother's farm until the late 1930s, when they moved to the town of Hydro, Oklahoma. In 1941 they used Carl's inheritance to purchase a gasoline station with seven tourist cabins at Provine, a sparsely settled crossroads on Route 66 one mile southwest of Hydro. Neighboring businesses included a Texaco station and the Hill Top Café. Carl drove a truck for a living, and Lucille operated the gas station and cabins. They lived in the second story of the gas station; Lucille prepared breakfast and sandwiches for travelers on a hotplate in the first story. Lucille lived in the gas station until her death in 2000.

Social interaction in communities like Provine differed greatly from traditional villages. Strangers on the move were brought together briefly in a remote, ephemeral setting. This was a culture of mobility; motor travel was the only reason for Provine's existence. In her autobiography, Lucille describes the isolation of her gas station home, her frequent interaction with travelers on Route 66, and her travel-oriented duties and services in addition to running the gas station and cabins. She helped travelers in financial straits by accepting objects for payment or by purchasing their cars and putting the travelers on a bus. During World War II, when rubber and metal were in short supply, she sold tires and parts stripped from the used cars that she had bought.

Lucille witnessed the second wave of migration on Route 66 in the early 1940s, when midwesterners sought defense jobs in California, as well as postwar vacation trips and household moves. In recent years, as interest in the historical and cultural aspects of Route 66 has grown, Mrs. Hamons has been celebrated as the "Mother of the Mother Road." Her gas station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Cheryl Hamons Nowka, who was born in the second story of the gas station, created a Lucille Hamons web site in the mid-1990s.


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