Highway 50: Ain't That America!

Highway 50: Ain't That America!

by James Lilliefors

Hop in and take a ride along Highway 50, one of the most intriguing thoroughfares crossing the United States.


Hop in and take a ride along Highway 50, one of the most intriguing thoroughfares crossing the United States.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A little wacky, a little mysterious, this saga of a journey along one of America's oldest cross-country routes offers vicarious adventure to the house-bound, as well as a sense of wonder at what lies ahead at the next gas pump, eatery or small town along Route 50. Lilliefors, a former correspondent for the Associated Press, gets on the road first mapped by Washington and later traveled by pioneers where it starts in Maryland and follows it for several months to California. In person he seems to be a laconic but charismatic presence, attracting people at each place he parks his old Ford. As he tells it here, Lilliefors stopped in a host of out-of-the-way hamlets along Route 50 in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and California. The author's gift for dialogue makes the blase waitresses and macho barflies, coal miners, oystermen, ranchers and others he meets come alive. His account is enriched by the bits of regional history he inserts and by his propensity to go off the road to track down local lore. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Who has never secretly dreamed of abandoning the nine-to-five life and taking to the open road? Lilliefors did just that, and the account of his cross-country adventures via historical Highway 50 are offbeat and varied. There is a genuine feel of real landscapes and people here, as Lilliefors tells of lingering at neighborhood eateries, going oystering on an icy bay, philosophizing with hitchhikers, laboring at a coal mine, and so forth. As he crosses West of the Mississippi, however, the tales seem a bit less in-depth and reflective, perhaps mirroring a growing urgency to reach the final destination. Overall, though, these are absorbing personal stories of daily America. ``What we ultimately become,'' concludes the author, ``is determined by stories.'' Recommended for circulating libraries.-- Carol J. Binkowski, Bloom field, N.J.
Roland Wulbert
Driving through Ocean City, Maryland, one day in his old Ford LTD, Lilliefors passed a highway sign that read, "SACRAMENTO 3073." "Five thousand passes," he tells us, "and the sign was part of the scenery. Like the barnacle-encrusted anchors at the edge of the inlet, which I also did not really see anymore." The sign inaugurates the westward route of Highway 50, originally mapped by George Washington and continued by gold rushers and pioneers. Lilliefors decided 10 years as editor of a small-town newspaper was enough. He withdrew his savings, caught the highway, and took it leisurely to its western terminus. He visited the grave of the first Union soldier killed in the Civil War and the small church in Grafton, Ohio, in which the international Mother's Day holiday was conceived. The history he imparts about such things--understated, like the narrative--leaves the reader wanting more, but the book's strength lies in the people Lilliefors eavesdrops upon, sleeps with, is bored by, runs from, and briefly works for. This "passive adventurer" is no Steinbeck, no good guy, but he knows how to propel a narrative so that it finishes in first place.

Product Details

Fulcrum Publishing
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

James Lilliefors is a journalist who has worked and written for several national publications and has been a regular contributor to The Washington Post and The Miami Herald. He is also author of the book American Boardwalks, to be published in 2006, and a novel, Bananaville.

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