A 90-Year Old Angel and Some Very Amazing People

In case you missed it, Angel Delgadillo recently celebrated his

90th birthday. If you don’t know about Angel, or have never met this amazing and inspirational man, it would be safe to assume that you’re not a Route 66 enthusiast – yet.

The irrepressible Angel Delgadillo. Photo by Judy Hinckley

I am not exactly sure when it happened but at some point in time a highway transformed into an icon, an almost magical place that has come to symbolize the ultimate authentic experience for legions of passionate enthusiasts. That is one reason why I often refer to Route 66 as a living, breathing time capsule, but that isn’t really a very accurate descriptor as only the very best has been preserved. That is manifest in the people that give Route 66 an infectious vibrancy.

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Sex, Murder, Scandal, and Celebrities on Route 66

In the 1940’s, W.A. “Tex” Thornton was a living legend, an almost

mythical figure whose exploits in the oil fields of Texas and Oklahoma made him seem larger than life. During the 1920’s he had perfected the use of nitroglycerin and dynamite to extinguish oil field fires, and in the era of the Great Depression, developed a steady rainmaking business using balloons, timed charges, and explosives.

The Park Plaza Motel on Route 66 in Amarillo was the scene of a murder that became a media sensation. Courtesy the Joe Sonderman collection.

Quests, Odysseys, Assorted Adventures, and Related Challenges

I am unsure as to how this past week can adequately be described. Exciting?

Frustrating? Maddening? Depressing? Exhilarating? Exhausting? Enjoyable? Fun? Thrilling? Productive? Perhaps I could better set the stage for today’s post by simply saying that it has been a combination of all of the above.

The release of a heavily revised second edition of a book on ghost towns was released this month. In addition, Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town was released on April 1, and this past week I completed the final edit for a book that is scheduled to be released in September. Needless to say, this is a cause for celebration, reflection, and the taking of a very deep breath. It was time for a shot of cognac.

The publication of a new book is also a cause of concern as this means that the schedule for promotion is about to become a towering tsunami. This time, however, it will be magnified by three. That is already starting. Last week I had an interview with Rudy Maxa, and yesterday with Keri Jones of the British based Great Destination Radio Show. With the publication of each new book I give thought to taking the writing game to the next level which means seeking an agent. Candacy Taylor and Brennen Mathews, two esteemed colleagues, are providing insight, direction, and gentle encouragement to begin that quest.

With the books completed, and the deadline for the next one still twelve months away, I will be turning my attention toward other projects such as the podcast, the Friday morning Facebook live program, development of the walking tours, providing assistance to the Promote Kingman initiative, and, hopefully, getting the truck back on the road and working on the endless construction project, a place that we call home. And I plan on getting distracted as often as possible with opportunities to visit with friends, to travel with my dearest friend, and to meet with interesting people.

A few days ago the model of Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner created by the late Willem Bor was unpacked at Dunton Motors next door to the restaurant. This 1946 dealership is also home to the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona. After receiving the model, Scott Dunton, president of the association decided to display the model at the office and is having a custom glass display case created. I was quite honored to have been entrusted with the model and ensuring that it was properly display.

There was a great deal of sadness involved with the opening of the packing crate. The first dinner my dearest friend and I ever ate in Europe was in the home of Willem and Monique Bor. Their names adorn a pillow presented to us on behalf of the Dutch Route 66 Association during a reception at de Prael in Amsterdam during that trip.  Last summer at the first European Route 66 Festival, Willem informed us that he had cancer, and through friends in the Dutch Route 66 Association, we followed the progressive decline. Willem was a part of our Route 66 family.

Even though the model will be shared with the world at the location selected, there was also a degree of sadness about this. I had hoped that this one as well as the model of the Twin Arrows Trading Post would be exhibited at the Powerhouse Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum in Kingman as part of a display that honored our friends from the Netherlands as well as highlighted the international nature of the Route 66 community. As with the stillborn Route 66 walk of fame, I find the overall lack of enthusiasm about Route 66 just a bit tragic.

At the grassroots level, however, there is a rather dramatic awakening. It is made evident in the Promote Kingman initiative, beautification projects that include neon sign restoration facilitated by the Route 66 Association of Kingman, the vibrancy of the Beale Street corridor in the historic business district made manifest in new stores and new construction. And it is made evident in the effort to welcome guests such as Toshi Goto to the community.

Saturday was a high point in the week. My dearest friend and I joined Toshi Goto, a friend and founding member of the Japanese Route 66 Association, and his charming wife Yoko, for a little trip to Ash Fork and a visit with Kirk at Zettler’s Route 66 Store. Even though we missed Angel Delgadillo (we had hoped to be able to wish him an early 90th birthday), we enjoyed a delightful lunch at Lulu Belle’s in Ash Fork, had a great visit with Kirk, and a wonderful dinner in Kingman at Calico’s hosted by the Route 66 Association of Kingman and the Promote Kingman initiative. We rounded out the evening by checking out the cars at Chillin’ on Beale, and savoring a fresh made ginger ale at Black Bridge Brewery.

This morning I had an interesting meeting with Steve LeSueur, the developer of the Promote Kingman initiative. In the near future we will be expanding our limited partnership. In addition to the video series, Jim Hinckley’s America: A Trek Along Route 66, the schedule for illustrated walking tours in the historic district that utilize historic images provided by the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, with me as the guide, will be expanded and custom tours will also be offered. Additionally, they will be selling signed copies of my books. If you are interested in a walking tour check out the calendar of events on the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page, or contact Promote Kingman.

Association with the Promote Kingman initiative has been an interesting endeavor. With a myopic focus on the development of grass root projects that foster development of a sense of community, and magnifying the marketing of businesses or events through partnership programs and project sponsorship opportunities, this pioneering initiative has contributed to an array of interesting developments.

Unfortunately there are still a few factions that seem intent on burning the house down rather than assist with the cooking. In one local newspaper inflammatory editorials and articles filled with carefully words and partial truths are still standard fare. Tragically there are those in the community that will believe an editorial about secret meetings and good old boy networks, and never know that the editor had been invited to the meetings.

In a nutshell, it has been a rather interesting week. It was better than some, not as good as others. It was the type of week that leaves you looking toward the future with eager anticipation, and a touch of apprehension. To paraphrase an old book, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

 

 

 

Harry Edward Nipple and Other Colorful Characters

I have always been drawn to colorful characters, the mildly

eccentric, the people who march to the tune of a different drummer. To be honest, this affinity can be summed with the old analogy about birds of feather flocking together. For about as long as can be remembered I have been viewed as an eccentric, an independent thinker, a colorful character. I don’t see this as a bad thing. In fact, it could be said that I have made it a career of sorts.

Yesterday during a Promote Kingman walking tour through the historic district, as I shared stories about area history accented with photos from the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, my thoughts turned toward colorful characters of the past, the ones that have crossed my path over the years, and the character that I have become. It was hard not to, after all I did mention Harry Nipple (1876 – 1961), the source of countless jokes made by teenage boys in Kingman. 

Dusty Trails, Forgotten Rails, And An Old Road Signed With Two Sixes

This morning I have what is hoped to be an exciting post that will

encourage an Arizona adventure or two. First, however, I would like to thank the sponsors behind Jim Hinckley’s America, the multifaceted project that now includes a video series and Kingman, Arizona historic district walking tours developed in partnership with Promote Kingman, a Friday morning Facebook live program, the blog, a YouTube channel, photo gallery on Legends of America, and podcast. And, of course, there are the presentations and books, including a new release, Route 66: America’s Longest Small TownThe entire project is built around my gift for telling people where to go, and a desire to provide the information needed to make those adventures memorable and enjoyable.

So with that as the introduction, I would like to thank the folks at Grand Canyon Caverns, Promote Kingman, and the Route 66 Association of Kingman. Of course I would be quite remiss if I didn’t thank folks like you who through contributions to the Jim Hinckley’s America tip jar, as well as with comments, book purchases, and attendance at events make all of this possible.

The post office in Gold Road, Arizona on Route 66 courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts

Fame and Fortune, Obscurity and Poverty on Route 66

From its inception dreamers, entrepreneurs, gypsies, con artists,

and visionaries were attracted to Route 66 resultant of the near constant hype and publicity. It was the highway of dream for travelers as well as for those looking for a way to make a dollar. It was the road of boundless opportunity, and, for a few, a highway paved with gold.

Ed Edgerton came from Michigan shortly after WWI. A doctor recommended suggestion that he find a drier climate and the lure of riches in the gold mining boom town of Oatman prompted his westward migration.

Death on the Double Six

Over the years death has come in many forms on iconic Route 66. The

highways realignment or construction of a bypass was often the death knell for communities and businesses. The ever increasing flow of traffic, including broken down Model A Fords and powerful new Buick Roadmaster sedans, on a highway peppered with narrow bridges that left no room for error, as well as blind curves, steep grades, long stretches without a shoulder, and gas stations that offered a free six pack of beer with every fill up of the tank all contributed to the moniker “Bloody 66.”

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A wreck on Route 66. Photo courtesy the Joe Sonderman collection.

 

Shortly after WWII, two brothers opened a service station in western Arizona. Using a homemade wrecker to fulfill a contract with the state to remove wrecks from the highway, they soon discovered that there was gold in the tangled wrecks, broken glass, and carnage. Within twelve months they were able to pay cash for a brand new truck with Holmes wrecker body. Within three years they had three trucks and operated three shifts. 

PARTNERSHIPS, PROMOTIONS, AND AVOIDING THE MINOTAUR IN THE LABYRINTH

In a recent interview I was asked if Route 66 was a mirror for my career as

a writer. The answer was no. The National Old Trails Highway makes for a better analogy; it was knit from a network of historic trails, the course for the “highway” often changed between Tuesday and Thursday, it was always rooted firmly in the past but served as a bridge to the future, and it enjoyed a modest degree of popularity.

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Right out of the box I sold my first feature article, written on a 1948 Underwood typewriter, to a major national publication. This was followed with a period of cranking out local interest stories for a couple of rural newspapers, the writing of a few features for national publications, a short stint as associate editor for Cars & Parts (before they went out of business). Next came the books. At each and every stage, partnerships served as the foundation.

Come away With Me, Lucille In My Merry Oldsmobile

Who first took to the roads in a horseless vehicle will most likely always

be a bit of a mystery. Likewise with exactly who first pinned the term automobile to the horseless carriage. Even the year is an unknown but by the early 19th century a few daring, or crazy, visionaries and inventors were terrorizing their neighborhoods with steam powered carriages. However, it would be the mid 1880’s before the concept of a road vehicle driven by any means other than the horse was given serious consideration.

An argument could be made that the American automobile industry was born in 1877. That was the year George B. Selden obtained patents for a horseless carriage with internal combustion engine. Interestingly enough, he did not actually build an automobile, or even a functioning prototype, until 1905 when a lawsuit necessitated that he do so.

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Front Street, latter Andy Devine Avenue in Kingman, Arizona. In 1915, Edsel Ford stayed at this hotel during his odyssey along the National Old Trails Highway. Photo courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts. 

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