Although Scottish actor, comedian, musician Billy Connolly’s book on his trip down Route 66 is not a travel guide as such, it is credited with creating an increase in British tourism on Route 66. According to a May 6 article in the Scottish Daily Record by Toby McDonald, “Travel specialists say bookings have shot up by 30 per cent since Billy’s four-part series was shown on ITV1 earlier this year.” Cuba, Missouri has benefitted from some of that interest.
The book does not say much about hotels, specifics about the roadway, or places to dine as such, but it does chronicle details about American history and Connolly’s interaction with people on the route who he thought were interesting. For example, by reading the book I found that gangster Al Capone donated $1,000,000,000 to buy milk for poor children during the depression.
Connolly was in Cuba, Missouri during his road trip on Route 66. He stayed at the Wagon Wheel Motel and parked his 3-wheeler bike under the Wagon Wheel’s bike shelter.
Motel owner Connie Echols, who purchased and restored the motel in 2009, stated,” European tourists are very interested in Connolly’s stay at the Wagon Wheel and like to see his signature in the motel’s guest book.”
However, what really attracted Connolly’s interest was the giant rocker at the Fanning US 66 Outpost General Store, about 4 miles west of Cuba. That’s where he struck up an acquaintance with Dan and Carolyn Sanazaro, who own the store and the rocker. They hit it off so well, that the Sanazaro’s invited Connolly and the crew to their rural Cuba home that overlooks the river. Their family BBQed for Connolly’s group and shared many laughs. Carolyn’s twin sister Cheri was there, and when the two women invited him to go on a turkey hunt with them the next day, Connolly was in. According to the book, he was relieved that they didn’t get a turkey, but he enjoyed his time with the Sanazaros and the two fun-loving twins. This time is chronicled in the documentary and in his book.
Carolyn Sanazaro stated, “Tourists stop by all the time to see what Billy talks about in his book. They want to see the rocker and talk about the turkey hunt. Many of them are following his travels along Route 66.” Because of the interest, Sanazaro is going to frame photos that were taken when Connolly visited them and hang them in the general store for the tourists to see. There is also a copy of Connolly’s book on the store counter. Many tourists have a copy of the book with them as they travel.
The novels The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and On the Road by Jack Kerouac, the Route 66 TV series from the 60s, and the Cars movies created a desire for international tourists to visit the US and Route 66. It seems that Connolly’s book is now adding to those flames of desire for the ultimate American road trip.
For more on Connolly’s visit to Cuba, read “6 Reasons why actor Billy Connolly will remember Rt. 66 in Cuba, Missouri.”
Buy Billy Connolly’s Route 66 on Amazon.