I miss Kingman, the place I moved to in the summer of 1966 that was a western verison of Mayberry where real cowboys mingled with travelers on Route 66, miners, and small town folks that took the time to stop and talk. I suppose more than a few of those folks chewing the fat there on the sidewalk in front of the Hotel Beale were lamenting the “good old days”, that time before the government grabbed a big chunk of the Neal’s ranch for a flexible gunnery school, the Kingman Army Airfield, and the towns population literally doubled in a matter of weeks as troops began arriving by train.
Perhaps its just human nature to look on the past with a touch of fondness. After all, with the exception of death the future is always an uncertainty. The past is where our youth is.
We, my dearest friend and I, enjoy visitng the past but we remember it far to well to want to live there again. I suppose that is why we embrace the latest addition to the Hinckley stables, the Jeepe, our moniker, not Chrysler’s.
It offers the best of both worlds, the rugged durability of my old trucks with the modern comfort of air conditioning and cruise control. It also meets our two primary needs, dependable and economical transportation for the long haul as well as the ability to take us to those quiet places and get us back again.
Kingman is a lot like our old Jeep. Here and there are traces of the past, that rugged little desert town we so enjoyed as kids. The tide of modernity – urban sprawl, box stores, and all that this entails – is lapping at the distant hills but it has yet to drown the essence of life in the desert southwest and it does provide a few of the conveniences that make this the best of times and the worst of times.
What amazes me most about Kingman is the quiet places that hide in plain site, magical places where time has stood still, where desert serenity envelopes, and it becomes impossible to tell the decade or even the century. After a particularly brutal work week, and with a winter storm fast approaching, my dearest friend and I decided to take the morning off with the goal being one of those special places.
It might not be 1966 and Route 66 is no longer the main street in Kingman but life is good.