Painting ©2018 John Clark III
Steven Monahan traveled pretty much all of Route 66 as a young "Army brat" moving from assignment to assignment with his paratrooper father, Delbert. In those days, before the massive U.S. interstate highway system was built, the Mother Road was the way people drove cross-country.
"I traveled along 66 a lot growing up, going to different states and Army bases and stuff," Monahan said, sitting on a park bench along Route 66 outside a house in Carthage, Mo., where I spotted him smoking a cigarette, watching cars go by. "There's a lot of interesting things to see along Route 66. My opinion is, it's the heartland of America."
Indeed. I had the same thought as I've driven the past four days through so many small middle-America towns beginning in Chicago and heading west through Illinois, Missouri, a slice of Kansas and today into eastern Oklahoma. Neat, manicured lawns, people mowing grass, lots of U.S. flags flying. The heart of America, and what makes this country great.
Monahan agreed. Now 65, he spent most of his life in Pella, Iowa, a town founded in 1847 by Dutch immigrants, and home since 1935 to the Pella Tulip Festival.
After graduating high school, the draft board came calling and so he joined the Air Force, where he managed to land a nice assignment as a general's cook. He served from 1970-74, and then went to work maintaining Brunswick bowling equipment. Now divorced after 35 years of marriage, the father of two came to Carthage to be near family after health problems forced him to retire and go on disability. He recently bought a house in nearby Baxter Springs, Kan., and looks forward to moving there after he finishes remodeling the place.
"It's been an interesting life, if you like traveling," Monahan said. "I was an Army brat most of my life. Been a lot of places -- Okinawa, almost all 50 states. When I was 14, I went and started living with my dad in Iowa, then he passed away when I was 16. I was on my own after that.
"Baxter Springs has a nice little river, (and) lots of lakes down there, so I'll be able to do lots of fishing," he said, with a smile.
It was a good day today on Route 66. After spending the night in Rolla, Mo., the road turned through the countryside. At one point, there was Route 66 in the middle, paralleled by railroad tracks on the left and Interstate 44 on the right. For a long time, though, it was nothing but driving beneath a shaded canopy of trees on both sides of the road, the same way folks did it way back when, since Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926.
See y'all on down the road.
A few reviews of John's books
The 30-Day Optimism Solution:
“Part memoir, part informative text. You get both when reading 'Depression Blues' by John H. Clark III. Mr. Clark shares his struggles with depression in an honest and real way, and as the book progresses, so does his hope. Woven into the story as jumping off points are bits of information about depression and ways to "conquer" the sadness, loneliness, and despair that comes with it.
Mr. Clark becomes more than an author in this book; he becomes a friend who understands the pain of depression and provides light. I recommend this book to anyone looking for light or to anyone who knows someone with depression and wants to learn more.”
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