Ohio66 presents an in-depth look at the circumstances surrounding the departure of George Maharis from route 66 in the middle of the third season.
'Route 66' Family Finds Life on Road Interesting
"The family that lives together, stays together" is a philosophy that Mrs. Sam Manners adopted and put to work full time last September.
Mrs. Manners, Kim, Tana and Kelly have begun traveling the year around with Mr. Manners, who is production chief for "Route 66" and "Naked City."
"We used to travel with Sam only during the summers after the kids were out of school. But as soon as Kelly, our youngest, started in the first grade, we hired a tutor so we could travel with Sam," said petite and blonde Mrs. Manners.
When Mrs. Manners and the children stayed at home in Northridge, Calif., he was able to see them only for short periods.
"Sometimes he came in on Thursday, and I took him to the airport of Friday. The children began to regard him as a visiting uncle instead of their father." She said.
In September, Mrs. Manners closed up the house, took the poodle to grandmother to keep, gave the bird and pot plants to friends and hired Mrs. Norma Choate, a teacher, to travel with the "Route 66" company. Mrs. Choate teaches the Manners children and the other children in the company.
"THE CHILDREN go to school from 9 in the morning until noon. In the afternoon, Mrs. Choate has to be on location to teach Roger Mobely, one of the stars in this particular show," she said.
After school the children have a free afternoon to play.
"My friend Sherril and I play dolls together. We also have a fort out in the mud behind the motel," said 10-year-old Tana Manners.
"The children make friends with every child they see at the motel. When we get ready to leave they always hate to leave their new found friends behind," Mrs. Manners said.
IN MANY cities, the children are asked to dinner or to spend the night with other motel children. They are also asked to go to the theater or to see points of interest in a city.
"While the children are playing, the "Route 66" wives get together for cards or to talk. I also do a lot of reading and sewing.
"Sundays are family days. This is one day that the families can be together and do whatever they want to do," she said.
For the long hauls, the family goes by air. On short trips, they go by car. The company had time off at Christmas to go home.
"WHEN WE got home, I counted our luggage. We had 12 pieces! Besides clothes, we take a record player and records, guitar, and toys for the children. The record player is Sam's, and the guitar is Kim's," she said.
The company plans to be off work for a while in May, "but we never count on that. We are not even sure we are going to be in a certain city until we are registered in the hotel there."
"The traveling has been very educational for the children. I just wish I had been able to travel like these kids do.
"The children have become self-reliant and very adult for their age. Kim is 12, Tana is 10 and Kelly is 7. They have learned to take care of themselves. In hotel and motel restaurants, they go in and order what they want. Then they sign the checks when they are through. They have really adapted well," she said.
Mr. and Mrs. Manners were married in 1944 when "Sam was still in the army. I was dancing at the time, but gave it up to put Sam through college at the University of California at Los Angeles.
"I PUT some of my high school courses to use and took a secretarial and bookeeping [sic] job. After Kim was born, I gave up my secretarial job because I wanted to be at home during the day with him," she said.
"I took a job as a car hop working from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. I had never lifted a tray in my life, but to get the job I had to tell them that I was experienced."
While on the job, there was one tray she lifted too high.
"I was serving Roy Rogers some malts one day. As I was trying to attach the tray to the car window, I tilted the tray too much. All of the malts fell into the car and spilled on the front of his elaborately decorated suit."
"I DIDN'T know what to do. I could see that he was rather angry," she said.
Very excitedly, Mrs. Manners tried to repair the damage with a small paper napkin and a frantic, "I'm sorry, I'm very sorry."
"Since then my husband and Roy Rogers have become friends, and I have met him again. He still doesn't know that I am the car hop who spilled malt all over his suit," she said.
After Mr. Manners was graduated from college, he got a job with the Music Corporation of America. Eight years ago he became the first employee of Herbert B. Leonard, owner of Route 66.
Corpus Christi Times - January 25, 1963