Route 66’s history from the perspective of women focus of April 26 program at CSUSB

Route 66’s history from the perspective of women focus of April 26 program at CSUSB

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Called the “Mother Road” by author John Steinbeck, U.S. Route 66 stretches some 2,400 miles from Santa Monica to Chicago, symbolic of the mobility available to Americans, and an iconic highway for many travelers.

Yet much of the historical perspective of the highway that passes through San Bernardino and much of the Inland Empire has primarily focused on men, often overlooking the experiences of women and girls.

From left to right: Vera Montano Lopez, Mary Dominguez and Helen Montano in front of the historic Mitla Cafe in San Bernardino. Courtesy of the Mitla Cafe and historian Mark Ocegueda.

From left to right: Vera Montano Lopez, Mary Dominguez and Helen Montano in front of the historic Mitla Cafe in San Bernardino. Courtesy of the Mitla Cafe and historian Mark Ocegueda.

On Wednesday, April 24, Cal State San Bernardino will present “The Women on the Mother Road in Southern California: Route 66 Oral Histories and Screening and Discussion Program,” which will reexamine Route 66 from a female, Californian perspective.

The program will take place at 4 p.m. at CSUSB’s John M. Pfau Library, room PL 4005. It is free and open to the public; parking at the university is $6.

Project director Katrina Parks and historian Mark Ocegueda will present a slide lecture and several filmed and edited oral histories. They will place archival photos and the filmed interviews in a wider historical, women’s studies, and media studies context.

When Parks began researching the project, she was surprised by the breadth of women’s experiences she uncovered along Route 66 in California, as well as the cultural diversity of the stories.

Parks said recently, “As you might expect, women often worked in family businesses along Route 66, but they also struck out on their own as artists, anthropologists, architects, waitresses, entrepreneurs, executives and real estate magnets.”

A family in Clifton’s Cafeteria at the terminus of Route 66 in downtown Los Angeles. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.

A family in Clifton’s Cafeteria at the terminus of Route 66 in downtown Los Angeles. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Themes of growing up, traveling, challenging gender stereotypes, confronting prejudice and pushing boundaries in a man’s world run through the new oral histories.

This project and event are made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit its website for more information on its programs.

Additional supporters include The National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, Cinefemme and CSUSB.

For more information contact Katrina Parks at (323) 203-5968 or katrinaparks@mac.com.

Women of the Mother Road, flier. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Click on the image to view a larger version.

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