On April 18, 1942 a squadron of 16 B-52B bombers led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle took off from the deck of the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Their mission was to conduct an air raid on the Japanese capital of Tokyo and other strategic military and industrial places on Honshu. Once that mission was complete, they were to keep flying westward until they reached China.
In the end, 14 of the 16 bomber crews made it back home. Unfortunately, however, the Japanese would capture eight crewmen in Eastern China, executing three of them.
The raid itself killed about 50 people and injured around 400 and damage to the industrial and military targets was minimal. Still, it was considered a success because it lifted American morale and planted seeds of doubt in the enemy about their leaders’ ability to protect them in their own homeland.
Doolittle thought otherwise of the mission’s success. In fact, he believed he would be court-marshaled for the loss of two bomber crews. Quite the opposite happened, however, and he was not only promoted two ranks to brigadier general, but was also awarded the Medal of Honor for “Doolittle’s Raid”. He would go on to have an illustrious military career receiving many awards and honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Perhaps more pertinent to our story, however, is the recognition he received from a little town in Missouri called Centertown. You see, on October 11, 1946, with Doolittle himself in attendance, Centertown officially changed its name to Doolittle in honor of the war hero.
Stuckey’s of Doolittle
Located right off of Route 66, Stuckey’s of Doolittle, Missouri is not only a full-fledged Stuckey’s that carries all of your favorite road trip snacks, classic pecan candy and kitschy souvenirs, but also features a wine bar and a chicken car, too.
Now, once you’ve taken your selfie next to the chicken car and found out what wine pairs well with your Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll (which, by the way, The Vineyard District says will “marry nicely with reds like Sagrantino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Primitivo”, in case you were wondering), here are some other things to see and do near the Stuckey’s in Doolittle.
Museum of Vacuum Cleaners / Rolla, MO
This museum really sucks, and that’s okay. You see, Rolla is home to Missouri’s own Museum of Vacuums, so it’s actually supposed to.
The museum, located within owner/curator Tom Gasko’s vacuum parts and repair store Mid-Missouri Vacuum, is Gasko’s personal collection of over 1,000 vacuum cleaners. They range from upright Hoovers of the early 19th century to the later Art Deco inspired canister vacuums and even the more modern Dyson G-Force. All of the vacuums work, and if Mr. Gasko is there the day you visit, he might even let you try a few of them out.
The store and museum are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local health policies may affect hours and access, however, so it’s better to call +1 573-261-9577 for more info before you get sucked in.
Totem Pole Trading Post / Rolla, MO
While you’re in Rolla, you have to head west over to the self-proclaimed “Longest Running Route 66 Business in Missouri”. The Totem Pole Trading Post first opened in 1933 as a gas station, restaurant, and souvenir stand about 12½ miles west of where it sits today. Though it moved a couple of more times since then, it eventually wound up where it sits today alongside I-44 and U.S. Route 66.
The present owner, Tim Jones, bought the place in 1972. Nowadays, however, there is neither restaurant nor are there any gas pumps sitting out front. That’s because over the last few decades, the Totem Pole Trading post has been able to survive selling only souvenirs and antiques to travelers from all over the world who still stop in for a trinket to take back home.
Nevertheless, at 75, Mr. Jones is ready to retire from the roadside souvenir business. He’s been trying to sell the trading post for well over a decade now, and in 2007, he nearly had a buyer. Unfortunately for Mr. Jones, however, the deal eventually fell apart.
It’s still for up for sale today though there are a couple of caveats for the prospective buyer. First, the name doesn’t come along with the sale, and second, the inventory doesn’t come with the sale either.
Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure: Mr. Jones and the trading post won’t be around forever, so you better check out this little slice of American roadside pie on your next road trip through Missouri while you still can.
Route 66 Rocker / Fanning, MO
It was just a few weeks ago that we mentioned stopping by the 35-foot-tall former World’s Largest Rocking Chair near Gulfport, Mississippi that was built in 1997. We also mentioned how the chair was dethroned in 2015 by the 56.5-foot-tall chair that rocks over Casey, Illinois.
Well, it seems that there was another rocker that held the title of World’s Largest Rocking Chair in between the two.
Back in 2008, Danny Sanazaro was looking for a gimmick that would attract customers to his archery and feed store. Danny remembered that, as a kid on a family vacation, he once saw a chair dubbed “The World Largest Rocker”. Danny knew he could beat that record, so he called on his friend John R. Blend to design it and local welder Joe Medrick to build it.
On the morning of April 1, 2008, the sun rose over the horizon and there in the early light in Fanning, Missouri, stood the world’s largest rocker at 42’-4” high and weighing 13 ¾ tons. The chair sat on 31.5’ long rockers that weighed a ton apiece.
Part of the deal of getting into the Guinness Book of World Records was that the chair had to rock – which it did. However, Danny was nervous about overzealous tourists rocking the so hard that they might flip it over and kill someone. As a result, he had it welded so it no longer rocked.
Still, it reigned as the World’s Largest Rocking Chair until 2015, when the bigger chair mentioned above was built in Casey, Illinois. Undeterred, Danny changed the color of the chair from its original black to red and renamed it “The Route 66 Red Rocker”.
Today, the chair is under new ownership after Danny sold his business in 2017. Though it’s still the world’s second largest rocking chair, the new business, a soda and snack store called Fanning Route 66 Outpost, now claims it’s the “World’s Largest Rocker on Route 66”. We say, “Rock on!”
Mega Mayor Muffler Man / Uranus, MO
In many of our “Things to See and Do Near a Stuckey’s” series, we’ve talked a lot about visiting those roadside giants known as “Muffler Men”. Many of these have been moved around the country and refurbished to promote whatever business they happen to be standing tall over at the moment.
However, the muffler man that stands out in front of Uranus Putt Pirates Mini-Golf along Route 66 is brand spanking new and was erected in Uranus in 2021. (And yes, you’ll find a LOT of double-entendres throughout Uranus.)
Custom-built by famous fiberglass artist Mark Cline (think Virginia’s “Foamhenge” and Alabama’s 50’ tall woman bathing in the waters of Barber Marina), the statue is an homage to Louie Keen, the mayor of Uranus. The Mega Mayor Muffler Man dons a patriotic red, white, and blue motif from head to toe and even sports the mayor’s signature cowboy hat.
In all fairness, the statue is a good likeness of the seemingly larger-than-life mayor. But then again, it should be. After all, it was commissioned by the mayor himself. He also happens to own the mini-golf course and every souvenir stand, restaurant, and roadside attraction in this Route 66 tourist destination. We guess you could say that managing pretty much everything in Uranus is Mayor Louie Keen’s business.
Stuck in the Middle with You / Edgar Springs, MO
Imagine if everybody in America were equally placed on two sides of a giant scale. The place in the middle where the scale balances all of those people would then be what is known as the geographic population center of the United States.
To give you a better idea, back in 1790 when the U.S. Census Bureau started making these calculations and our fledgling country was still only 13 states, the population center of America was Chesapeake Landing on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
As America moved west, so did its population center. In fact, a century later in 1890, the population center of America had moved from Chesapeake Landing, Maryland, to Sandcreek Township, Indiana, some 660 miles west. By 1900, it had moved just a little over 481 miles west to Osage Township, Missouri.
In 2,000, America’s population center had moved just 86 miles northwest to Edgar Springs, Missouri, where they proudly display a highway sign and a public marker commemorating the title they once held until 2010 when it moved near Plato, Missouri, just 25 miles away. Today the population center of America is located 15 miles northeast of Hartville, Missouri.
Is what to buy for your friends and relatives for Christmas this year still a big question mark hanging over your head? Well, why not let the mystery out of the bag (or out of the box, as it were) by giving them the Stuckey’s Mystery Box this Christmas?
What’s inside your Stuckey’s Mystery Box? Well, we can’t tell you that. After all, it surprises all around when you don’t know what to get them and they don’t what they’re getting. Maybe it’ll be that Idaho state magnet shaped like you need to complete your refrigerator collection. Or maybe its couple of cedar outhouse salt and pepper shakers stamped with “Souvenir of Uranus” on them.
However, we can tell you one (okay, actually two) things we know for certain: every Stuckey’s Mystery Box comes with a pecan log roll and some Stuckey’s branded merchandise. Plus, the actual value of everything inside will exceed the price of the mystery box itself. Check out our website for details.
While you’re there, you may want to do a little gift shopping for yourself, so check out our exclusive Stuckey’s branded “Merry Christmas Y’all” t-shirt. Then there’s also a variety of Stuckey’s branded hoodies to help keep you all comfy cozy on Christmas morn.
And of course, our road trip snacks and holiday gift tins always make great gifts. Likewise, our world famous Stuckey’s pecan log rolls and pecan pralines are great stocking stuffers.
Get all of this and more just in time for the holidays – only from stuckeys.com.
Stuckey’s – Were Making Road Trips (and Holidays) Fun Again!
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
For all of the pecany good treats and cool merch you’ll need for your next big road adventure, browse our online store now!
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!