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Historian wants to hear your Kingman Route 66 story


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Marshall Shore, the “Hip Historian,” will be in Kingman Friday to share his knowledge of Route 66 while also listening to your stories about the Mother Road.

Mother Road will be a big part of his Friday talk

If you meet a man in the next few days wearing a suit coat covered in iconic Route 66 images, stop and have a word with him. He will have a story for you.

Marshall Shore spent more than 20 years of his life as a librarian and then decided one day to tour the state talking about modern Arizona history.

He's now known as the "Hip Historian," and he's making his way to Kingman Jan. 25 to discuss the role Arizona's portion of Route 66 played in the writing of John Steinbeck's 1939 novel, "The Grapes of Wrath."

"I didn't want to look back later in life and regret not doing what I wanted to do," Shore said.

He's been speaking all over the state for the last three and a half years.

Marshall focuses on what he calls recent history, starting with the late 1920s and moving forward to present day.

"All the fun started to happen once the car got here," Shore said. So that's the era when his focus begins.

He also tends to focus on post-World War II Arizona, when many of the people who received military training here before and during the war started moving back.

"I celebrate obscure stories," Shore said. "It helps create a connection to place for people."

As much as people rely on him for history lessons, he relies on them to tell him their stories. He refers to his presentations as edutainment - one part education, one part entertainment - because he uses film clips, music and discussion to bring them to life.

More often than not, his speaking engagements develop into lively discussions where the audience ends up giving him pieces of information he'd be hard-pressed to find in print.

"The best material comes from people," he said.

When he visits Kingman, he'll be looking at Route 66 and the reasons it became an icon, such as Steinbeck's groundbreaking novel, music, television and even the development of the American Roadster.



Focus on towns

Though it may help, he said people don't need to have read "Grapes of Wrath" to enjoy the presentation.

"My presentation is more about the towns contained in the story," he said. "I keep to the facts, but I have a lot of fun with them."

The presentation is part of "The Big Read" program, which is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. All three of Mohave Community College's southern campuses are taking part in the program, and Shore is scheduled to visit all three of them.

His Kingman presentation is slated for 9 a.m. Friday in Building 200 at MCC, 1971 Jagerson Ave. Admission is free and community members are welcome to attend.

His presentations precede a book discussion focused on "The Grapes of Wrath." The Kingman discussion is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 15 in Building 200 on the school's campus.

Free books are available for those interested in participating in the discussion. For more information, call MCC Connect toll-free at 866-664-2832 and ask to speak to the librarian on the nearest campus.

For more information on The Big Read, visit www.bigreadaz.org.

"People are so willing to share their stories," Shore said of his discussions. This is extremely important because "some of those stories are in danger of being lost."




 

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