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Intersection Column | Chasing Memories Down Route 66

by Janine Rosche


Summer 1961


Having enlisted in the Air Force, an eighteen-year-old boy from Bridgeport, New York, took his ’57 Ford Fairlane convertible down Route 66 to report for duty in California. When he arrived, he cruised Main with a giant teddy bear in the passenger seat. It caught the eye of a sixteen-year-old, small-town girl. Thus began my parents’ fifty-plus-year love story.


During my childhood, I often heard my father wax poetic about his time on what John Steinbeck called The Mother Road. From the sleepy bends through the Ozarks to the long stretches of the Mohave Desert, his tales took up permanent residence in my dreams.


One day, I told myself, I’d take that same trip. And maybe I’d write a book about it.


The Road before Us is that book. In it, I hoped to capture the beautiful yet haunting nature of Route 66—how, for nearly a century, people have surrendered themselves to the road for a variety of reasons: to get a fresh start, seek adventure, flee their past, or find refuge. Each one of my characters has a different reason for beginning their trip.


In 1956, Benny dreams of trading her small-town life for the glitz and glam of Hollywood. Her travel companion, Paul, who happens to be her brother’s best friend, hopes keeping Benny safe on the road will help him forget his time as a prisoner of the Korean War.


In 2024, Jade needs to make amends for the mistakes that destroyed the lives of innocent people, whereas fun-loving Bridger wants to make something of himself before it’s too late.


The characters’ journeys highlight the duplicitous nature of Route 66. Ever-changing, yet timeless. Romantic, yet ruthless. Symbolic of America’s greatness, yet tainted by its grimmest sins.


This is most evident for Benny, who at eighty-nine is retracing the trip where she and Paul first fell in love. With Jade and Bridger’s help, she is memorializing her husband a few years after his death. And the experience is bittersweet.


This aspect of the story hits closest to home for me, as you can see in the dedication for The Road before Us:

For Mom and Dad


Thanks to Route 66, you found each other once.

I pray you’ll find each other again, this time on streets paved with gold.


My father passed away in 2015, leaving that once-sixteen-year-old girl a widow. I’ve witnessed how her love has endured despite death and how she finds peace in the memories they shared and the knowledge they’ll be reunited one day. If a greater love story exists, I haven’t read it.


So in 2022, as I solo-ventured down Route 66 to gather research and inspiration for The Road before Us, I found myself standing on one of the abandoned sections of the last alignment before the road was decommissioned. I bent down, placed my palm on the crumbling asphalt my father crossed decades before, and thanked God for the role this fabled highway played in my family’s story.


I hope that you will find as much joy and meaning in reading The Road before Us as I did in writing it. And don’t be surprised if you start longing to chase your own dreams down Route 66 after you turn the final page.


About the Author

Janine Rosche is the author of With Every Memory, as well as the Madison River Romance and Whisper Canyon series of novels. Prone to wander, she finds as much comfort on the open road—including Route 66—as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into her stories. When she isn’t traveling or writing novels, she teaches family life education courses, produces The Love Wander Read Journal, and takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs.


About the Book

Jade Jessup sets off along Route 66 with an aging 1960s Hollywood starlet named Berenice “Benny” Alderidge and her handsome adult foster son, Bridger, who is filming a documentary. Listening to Benny recount her story draws Jade into memories of her own darker association with Route 66, when she was kidnapped as a child by a man the media labeled a monster—but she remembers only as daddy.


Did You Know?

Creation fills pages from historical records in Genesis to the journals of Charles Darwin and his theories. However, without a biblical perspective, children are missing their God-given identity. Today, life seems “disposable.” Confusion abounds. If kids do not understand God’s involvement and purposes, then there can be no firm confidence in their destiny or significance.


To help children understand who they were meant to be from a biblical lens, we can ground them with these ideas:


  • The Bible showers readers with evidence of God’s involvement in our lives. From Genesis 1:26 when Creator God created humans in His image to Genesis 2:7 when He breathed His breath of life into their nostrils, God tells us He has been involved in a personal way.

  • In Psalm 139 we discover how God formed our inward parts. He “knit” us together in our mother’s womb and prepared our days for us in advance. Children today need more than ever to know God has been involved since before they were born. God intends for each person to know they are precious.

  • The Bible gives us a reason for hope, a reason to believe we matter, a reason to find a purpose for living. Young people without this underlying truth are confused about who they are and why they matter. Kids who have been taught evolution do not understand how God distinguished humans from animals, giving people the responsibility to oversee the environment.


We celebrate God’s design plan for humanity in Wonder of Life, and pray readers will grasp their worth.


-Joan C. Benson and Marjorie Wingert, Wonder of Life


Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore

“‘How about this,’ my favorite salesclerk asked as she handed me a music box with a lovely Bible verse—the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. Online shopping lacks this personal, friendly touch. That’s why my local bookstore is a delight to visit.”


-Janet Perez Eckles, Now I See


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1 Comment

Kathy Cassel
Kathy Cassel
Jun 18

What an engaging story that links your family to RT 66. I plan to add your book to my tbr list.

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