Numerous trinket and curio shops popped up along Route 66 so travelers could easily find unique souvenirs to take back home- but the best souvenirs are often free.
Operators of small businesses advertised their business with give-away items such as matchbooks, ashtrays, pens, pencils, and postcards. Whether you stuck them in a drawer when you got home or used them daily to remind you of your travels, these items often outlast the business they’re advertising.
Whether you smoked or not, the ashtray had a handy calendar with all Sundays and holiday dates marked in red. It could also be used to hold jewelry, soap, or just placed on a shelf to remind you of all the wonderful things that took place in 1959. Produced by the L.J. Houze Convex Glass Company of Marion Point, Pennsylvania , these smoked glass convex trays were produced as souvenir/gift items from 1948 to 1995. The Desert Air Motel of Tucumcari, New Mexico was built in 1935, remodeled in the 1950’s, and still stands at 406 E. Route 66 Blvd., but was renamed the Americana Motel by 2009.
Matchbooks have been popular advertising items since the 1920’s but it’s rare to find any business that offers them today due to smoking bans in most businesses. Both these matchbooks from Albuquerque, New Mexico could still be useful once the matches were gone- just check the handy milage charts inside to see how far away the next town is, or how far away you are from home. One chart shows it’s another 803 miles on to Los Angeles while the other shows it’s 822 miles back to Kansas City (via U.S. Route 54). The Desert Sands Motor Hotel was still operating at 5000 Central Avenue until a series of fires in 2017 lead to its demolition.