As is the case with most working stiffs, I have a pipe dream or two, besides being a writer when I grow up and avoidance of spending the golden years a a greeter at Walmart, that keeps my nose pressed to the grindstone. One of these is to be able to spend more time on the road seeking out its hidden or forgotten places and getting to know the fascinating people who march to the tune of a different drummer by trading the illusion of security that comes with a regular job for living the dream.
Running a close second to this dream is the one of owning a book store/gift shop/information center on Route 66, some place like the old Longhorn Cafe building in Glenrio or, perhaps, a little shop in Williams. The location envisioned for this enterprise changes often and is based upon how claustrophobic I feel on a particular day.
While I dream and work toward making one or both these fantasies a reality, the day job supports the writing habit and pays the bills. Little in my world ever meets the standards of normal and my day job is no different.
I am one of the fortunate few that has a day job with an understanding boss. This manifests in the wide latitude given in regards to my transformation of the office into a personal Route 66 oasis, a museum/unofficial visitor center/book store/meeting place.
The eclectic collection continues to grow even though the shadow box counter top is kept full with a rotating exhibit that runs the gamut from a Cozy Dog pop up given to me by Bob Waldmire on his visit, and I am running out of wall space. Among the latest additions are a 1935 Chevrolet truck hood emblem, and color brochure, courtesy of a friend from Australia, a mid 1930s Ford locking hubcap, and a colorful Route 66 calendar given to me by Wolfgang Werz of Germany.
Last summer I began adding rack cards and brochures from various locations on Route 66. That has now morphed into material from Pontiac in Illinois, Afton Station, the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, the Arizona Route 66 passports, Arizona Highway maps, passes to area museums, and brochures pertaining to the sites to see in Tucumcari.
One wall is now dedicated to vintage automotive promotional material, the other poster sized prints of our Route 66 photography. Scattered amongst this are grills, license plates, and various automotive bits.
Last year the boss expanded on my Route 66 oasis idea by providing space for display, as well as repair, for groups traveling on Route 66. On occasion he even springs for lunch such as last year when the micro car tour stopped by for the afternoon.
It really adds spice to the day when folks stop by and share their Route 66 adventure, ask me to sign a book or their t-shirt, and pick up material. Even better is when a group, with a little notice, can stop by for the afternoon.
In the past few weeks I have had visitors from Ohio, Denny Gibson, and six different countries. I have been visited by travelers on motorcycles, in rental cars, and even in a 1957 Chevy as they traveled coast to coast.
The next time your in the neighborhood, stop by. In addition, if your traveling as a group, especially with vintage vehicles, give me a bit of a notice and perhaps we can roll out the red carpet.