This eye-catching Love66 license plate from Texas and the Route 66 decals signaled that this was a real roadie, as Route 66 lovers are called.
On a recent day, I pulled up outside the Fanning Outpost 66 General Store and the Texas Route 66 license plate and decals of the car above caught my eye. I thought I would see some enthusiastic Route 66 tourists inside shopping for souvenirs. However, I didn’t see them when I went inside the Outpost, one of Cuba, Missouri’s Route 66 attractions. You may have noticed that large rocker in the background of the photo.
I checked the supply of Viva Cuba brochures and looked around the store as I always do because there is always something new.
There was the wooden Indian that Dan Sanazaro bought at an auction…
Dan bought the wooden carving at an auction, and he guards the entrance now.
There were custom made Route 66 Baby Cakes from the Route 66 Fudge Shop
There's locally made products like these Route 66 Baby Cakes from the Route 66 Fudge Shop in the historic district of Cuba.
But much of the store’s interior is given over to Route 66 merchandise to satisfy the Outpost’s US and international customers’ desire for Route 66 mementoes. Much of that inventory is provided by a company wholesale company Real Time Products. I found out that the Route 66 plates out front belonged to Don Larker, a long time roadie and Real Time Products sales representative. Jackie, the store manager, told me that Don was back in the archery center at the picnic table filling out his order.
Many times when I am in stores with Route 66 merchandise, I flip over an item to see where it came from, and it often says Real Time Products. I thought that I wanted to meet this guy. I went back to the archery center and found Don Larker surrounded by paperwork.
After I introduced my self, we chatted for a bit. He used to be in the souvenir business for himself until he sold out and went to work for Real Time distributing souvenirs, jewelry, gifts, and novelties. He used to actually drive cargo around and unload merchandise himself. Now, he just takes orders, and they ship the items out.
“I think that I am going to live 10 years longer since I don’t have to load and unload souvenirs up and down the road,” he stated. He also stated that vendors always ask “What do you have new?”
We chatted for awhile about Cuba’s murals and other towns along the road. Don lives in Amarillo, Texas, and we chatted about other Route 66ers that we know in common such Croc Lile in Texas and Jim Hinckley in Arizona. We talked about Jim’s new Route 66 Atlas and Encyclopedia that he will debut at Cuba Fest in October. Then I took my leave and left Don to finish his orders and get back on Route 66 to his next stop.
I was glad that I had met Mr. Larker who is another slice of the living Route 66 history.
Don Larker, a sales rep with Real Time Products, was surrounded with orders and his Real Time listing of products when I found him at the Fanning Outpost.