I first made Cy’s acquaintance more than 30 years ago, when I was embarked in the research for ROUTE 66, THE HIGHWAY AND ITS PEOPLE. In western Oklahoma people told me, “Cy Avery invented Route 66.”
Invented? That’s what they said. And of course he did, first by laying out the great sweeping arc of a highway, then giving it a number, though not without more uproar and drama than would seem necessary today. In 1928 he played a role in making his highway a conversation subject around the world. That was when the 66 Association sponsored CC Pyle’s unlikely transcontinental footrace from LA to Chicago and then on to Madison Square Garden.
Before that, Cy worked tirelessly on behalf of good roads, several auto trail highways, and highway construction in Oklahoma. He also managed to raise a family, build a 55-mile water pipeline to improve Tulsa’s water, and run a real estate business on the side.
Cy would have turned 145 on August 31, 1916, and come the last day of this month, I’d like to suggest a bit of his favorite bourbon and branch water, or simply a thought about the Father of Route 66 and his highway.
In Cy’s honor, I am sharing a wonderful poem authored by one of my favorite people – my uncle Leo Croce. Here it is:
ODE TO CY
We loved your book ’bout Brother Cy
Your research proved him quite a guy.
His business sense none can deny
Both roads and water were his cry
He set his goals, his aim was high!
He met with groups, some mavericks
He used his charm and politics
In business he did turn a trick
And Tulsa’s water needs he fixed
Achieved his goal…Route 66!