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June 30, 2008

Galena station gassed about Route 66 award

By Roger McKinney

rmckinney@joplinglobe.com

GALENA, Kan. — The women from 4 Women on the Route returned from the Route 66 Festival 2008 with bumps, bruises and an award.

They received the New Business of the Year award at the festival, held June 18-22 in Litchfield, Ill., for restoring a gas station at First and Main streets, right along the famous highway. The building, an old Kanotex station, has been restored to its 1940s appearance. It includes a restaurant and sells Route 66 souvenirs.

Melba Rigg, Betty and Judy Courtney, and Renee Charles, along with Rigg’s daughter Shelby Rigg and driver John Simon, made the trip to Illinois in a truck pulling an old tow truck they refer to as “Tow Tater.” The truck is thought to have been the inspiration for the “Tow Mater” character in the 2006 movie “Cars,” voiced by Larry the Cable Guy.

Judy Courtney called the trip to the festival “an adventure.”

She and Melba Rigg said their truck blew a head gasket, and the engine locked up. Courtney’s husband, Larry, provided another truck, which on the outskirts of St. Louis was caught up in a police chase. They said they were unable to get out of the way in their truck, which was towing the trailer. As they approached Litchfield, they blew a tire. The trip, which they expected to take six hours, took 12 hours.

On their return trip on Interstate 44 near Strafford, Mo., their truck crested a hill, and traffic had stopped. They said drivers were trying to pull over to avoid other vehicles, and their truck ended up striking the back of another truck. They said they had some bruises and aches, but no serious injuries.

Judy Courtney said that throughout the trip, the tow truck attracted a lot of attention.

“We really felt like celebrities,” she said.

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