The blog post this week is a tip of my hat to my friend Blue Miller from the East Coast of England. Blue was kind enough to write the foreword to my book. I met Blue online while wrapping up the research on the book. Searching around the Internet, I found a story that she had written on her blog, Never Quite Lost – The Road Goes on Forever. It was called, The Man Who Killed the Best of Houck, and it was basically the same story covered in my book, but in a much briefer format. I was amazed with the depth and accuracy of her research. I contacted her to compare notes and see if she uncovered anything that I had missed. She was completely surprised that someone was writing on the same topic, and she was very interested in my personal connection to the story. At the time, I wasn’t entirely sure that I would publish the story after having my research sit on the shelf for many years. She encouraged me to finish the book and I told her that I would definitely need someone to prod me. She replied, “I have a pointy stick for just that job.”
During the one-year period from when we met until the book was published, she proved to be remarkably helpful. She previewed my manuscript and suggested changes. She helped me pick out some of the photographs I had acquired to use in the book and directed me to some useful resources, like online yearbooks. She also helped with some research and two particular pieces of information she uncovered for me really stick out. The first was information on Bertram Greenberg’s wife Carol. I was under the assumption she was a young innocent woman when Greenberg met her in the mid-1950s after reading what the prison psychologists said in their reports on Greenberg after one of his arrests. Blue discovered that far from being a young innocent young woman, Carol had been married at least two times before she married Greenberg, and even brought a young child into the marriage who had turned seventeen when Bertram went on his rampage. Although it was great information to satisfy my endless curiosity, I didn’t include a lot of the personal information I learned about Greenberg in my book (like his burial information or a picture of him in his football uniform from the 1950 Fairfax High School yearbook), because I didn’t want my readers to picture that monster as anything bordering on normal.
The second piece of significant research Blue did for me was when I was trying to locate a columnist for the Arizona Republic newspaper. He had written a story about spending a lot of time with Dianne Brown in her hospital room in Gallup in the days after the shootings, and he penned additional columns after the dust settled about Dianne’s progress and the fact that she had completed her master’s degree. I felt he might have some helpful information from a behind-the-scenes perspective. But finding him proved to be nearly impossible after half a century had passed; he had left the Arizona Republic to write for the Los Angeles Times for several years. He later became a contributor and editor at a luxury lifestyle magazine called The Robb Report. But from there the trail ran cold.
Blue sent me a message one day; she had located the retired journalist in Phoenix and gave me an email address and telephone number for his wife. She found where he was a partner in a public relations and reputation management firm. She discovered that one of the partners of the business was his wife who used a different last name. And it was an unusual name which made Internet research on her easier. She located an podcast interview with the spouse about women over seventy with successful businesses, and during the interview, the wife discussed personal details about her husband. Blue learned that he was retired from journalism, had lost his eyesight, and was living back in Phoenix. From the contact information she provided me, I was able to get in touch with the long-lost columnist. It was nothing short of top-notched research on her part. I was thoroughly impressed.
Blue is a well-known Route 66 researcher, and a first-class photographer. She fell in love with the Mother Road in 2005 while on a business trip in the United States. She started visiting places along the Route and taking thousands and thousands of photographs; and then in 2015, she started a blog called Never Quite Lost – The Road Goes on Forever. She has thousands of followers, and she has posted over 70 stories on the blog, mostly about people and places associated with Route 66. Her stories are varied, captivating, and meticulously researched.
A few of the many topics Blue has covered in her blog include:
A story about Jack Rittenhouse the author of A Guide Book to Highway 66 (1946)
The story behind abandoned white Pontiac at the Brownlee Diner in Glenrio, Texas
Bert’s Country Dancing Hall in Valentine, Arizona
The Beale Expedition Camels introducing the readers to the camel driver named “Hi Jolly” who
is buried in Quartzite, Arizona and has a monument erected in his name.
The trading Atkinson family who ran the Box Canyon Trading Post near Lupton, AZ, the
Rattlesnake Trading Post in Bluewater, NM and Cobra Gardens near Grants.
The heart wrenching tale four orphans whose parents were murdered on Route 66 near Seligman, AZ
A story about Little’s Station and Café in Hinton Junction, Oklahoma.
In addition to her blog, Blue is the editor of a classic motorcycle magazine in her native country of Great Britain. In 2021, she authored a book called Abandoned Route 66 Arizona: Where the Road Came to an End. And she is working on a similar book about abandoned Route 66 in New Mexico. So, I was very pleased when she agreed to write a foreword to my book. I was totally satisfied with the end result. I have included the last paragraph of her foreword below, and with those few words she breathed a new life into the victims in my story and highlighted the sheer magnitude of their deaths. In her short foreword, she did just exactly what I tried to do throughout my story, and that was put the focus on the memories of the innocent and brave victims. For this, I owe her a big debt of gratitude. Thank you, Blue – now please put that pointed stick away.
The last paragraph of Blue’s Foreword:
“Sadly, in this age of instant news, stories come and go in the blink of an eye. What is a headline today is forgotten in a week’s time; but the important thing is that we don’t forget events that changed people’s lives forever. Today, Marylou, Greenberg’s youngest victim, would be sixty-three years old. Jim Keeton and Don Beckstead would be retired after what would surely have been sterling careers in law enforcement, and like James Brown, enjoying the achievements of their children and doting on their grandchildren. Dianne Brown should be celebrating over fifty years of marriage to her beloved James. These were good people. They should never be forgotten, and there is no better person than Dave Johnson to ensure that, with this book, that doesn’t happen.”
Here is a link to Blue’s blog:
NEVER QUITE LOST | The road goes on forever