Sunday night, June 11, 2006, found us back at the 66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage, MO, to see "Cars" again.
In attendance was Dean Walker, President of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association. Dean is credited with being a large part of the inspiration for the personality of Mater the tow truck, a character in the Disney/Pixar film.
He and his wife, Paula, are among the people thanked in the closing credits of the film. I found them to be a wealth of information on Route 66, not only in the MO-KS area but westward as well.
Dean Walker demonstrates the reason they call him "crazy legs" and poses with Ace Jackalope and fellow movie-fan, Landon Mynatt.
I asked Dean if this was uncomfortable. He replied: "Would you believe in ten seconds I'll start telling people to start taking all the pictures they want before I count down to ten...you'll see the pain in my face but where it really gets me is in the hip sockets."
The idea for the "Mater" character began when the film makers saw a rusty old tow truck in Galena, KS on a scouting trip for the film several years ago. Walker told me that, unfortunately, the actual tow truck on which Mater was based is no longer in Galena; the property has been cleaned up and the truck was gone as of April 10 of this year when another film crew looked for it.
Here, Dean has signed a McDonalds Happy Meal toy for me.
Paula Walker is writing her own book: "To Hell and Back on Route 66." Dean referred to their dog as "Rosco the Route 66 Mutt." I seem to run into transportation-named dogs of late, having just met "Barley the Choo-Choo Dog" last month while photographing a train.
A nice little Americana moment at the drive-in: Before the movie, the Star Spangled Banner plays.