The Gay Parita Filling Station
It’s doubtful that another highway in the entire United States has captured the imagination of travelers like U.S. Highway 66. Of the 2,400-miles of pavement, more than 300 miles of The Mother Road cross Missouri as it leads drivers from Chicago to California.
Decommissioned as a federal highway in 1977, fans still can find their way across Missouri on the historic route. Remnants of old cafes, motels and other businesses are evident along the roadside. One Route 66 gem in Halltown is a replica of the Gay Parita Sinclair filling station. The original station was built in the 1930s and was owned by Gay and Fred Mason until it burned down in 1955.
One Hurley native remembers the many trips his family took on Route 66. Gary Turner fondly recalls the station, with its nickel sodas, Green Stamps and Mae West gas pumps.
A few years ago, Gary and his wife, Lena, got the chance to buy the Mason property. It was Gary’s dream to rebuild the old filling station at its original location for those who travel the historic road. Visiting the site is free.
“We get about 6,000 people a year who stop by,” says Gary, 65. “It isn’t hard to get hooked on Route 66. This road is an adventure through time and history, a real piece of Americana.”
Gary’s guest book has been signed by travelers from as far away as New Zealand, Russia, China, India, Lithuania, Denmark, Italy and France. “I’ve made friends from all over the world,” says the Route 66 ambassador.
To visit the Gay Parita filling station in Halltown, take Interstate 44 west from Springfield to Highway 96. Go 1-1/2 miles to Highway 266; turn right and then take the next left. The station is about 1/4 mile down the road on the right. For more information, go to www.garysgayparita.com.