I suppose we should start with something new. We will continue to sell the limited edition, numbered and signed prints through the Lile Gallery in Amarillo (see tab above) but we will now be offering a monthly series through the blog.
The theme for these prints will fall in one of two categories, the desert southwest or Route 66. Professionally printed and signed, each print will be offered for one month only.
Some will be of scenes from books published or magazine articles written. Others will be original works. In either case they are sure to brighten any room, office, or den and inspire many day dreams of road trips. The cost is set at $9.95 each. Of course there will also be shipping and tax.
If this were a television advertisement at this point notation of the recent announcement that I, along with Kerrick James, are the recipients of True West’s 2011 Best Photographer of the Year honor would flash across the screen. The accolades are real but this isn’t television.
The next item pertains to something old. In plotting our fall Route 66 tour I discovered something else that makes this old highway unique. It is also something I sort of suspected but with just a bit of homework the suspicions confirmed.
Route 66 may be the only highway left in America where it is possible to drive from one end to the other and never have to accept generic chain motels or restaurants. Even better, you can experience the pre generic age in your travels and not have to sacrifice quality or comfort.
The old highway is truly a three dimensional time capsule. Now, if I can just close the deal on that ’56 Rambler station wagon …
Now, lets talk about something else, something just a bit off the general topic of Route 66. To be more specific, I need to vent.
In the past week or so I was given a refresher course in just how much times have changed in the past forty years. As a result of these issues my growing sense that much of the progress of recent years wasn’t really progress at all has leaped to the forefront of my thoughts again. In fact I might go so far as to say it is a form of enslavement masquerading as progress.
Our ’98 Jeep Cherokee is one of the best vehicles yet owned. It is durable, practical, rugged, and relatively trouble free. Last week, after 120,000 miles of use in all manner of driving conditions, the fuel pump gave up the ghost.
Now, a Chrysler dealership is the parent company where I work so parts are obtained at a sizable discount. My cost for the fuel pump was $315.00.
Let me put that in perspective. The fuel pump for my 1968 Dodge truck was $55.00 and for my son’s ’78 Olds, $40.00. This is double what I paid for similar items a decade ago.
I installed them myself in less than one hour. For the Jeep, the cost for installation exceeded $200.00.
Usually when I get to this point in my arguments references are made to pollution and fuel economy. Our Jeep runs down the road delivering around 22 miles per gallon. A 1954 Dodge pick up truck with 241 c.i.d. V8, under strict AAA testing, delivered 21.75 miles per gallon with a driver, passenger, and 500 pound payload on a drive from Bonneville in Utah to Pikes Peak in Colorado.
I will readily admit being spoiled. Nowhere is this more evident than in the enjoyment I derive from turning on the air conditioning when crossing the desert in July. Still, our 1973 Olds had ice cold air and the parts to keep it blowing cold were cannibalized from a 1972 Impala for a cost of less than $100.00.
The point is this, there is a very high price to be paid for an illusion of progress. Now, one more rant. This one is about customer service and the ring in our nose that is used to pull us along with the herd.
The long version of a short story begins with the death of our refrigerator, a twenty year veteran, on Saturday. So, we drove to the nation wide chain appliance store and row upon row of refrigerators awaited our attention; three doors, various colors, touch pad controls, ice makers, bottom drawer freezers.
To save the salesman a bit of time I explained that what we wanted was a refrigerator, something to keep food and beer chilled and ice cream frozen. Judging from the look on their face, there was grave disappointment that the well rehearsed pitch was not going to be put into practice.
Like a homely girl at the prom stood a plain, white refrigerator nestled amongst the gleaming, decked out models. I should note at this point that the price was almost exactly half of one with ice maker, two doors, etc.
The somber atmosphere at the check out counter grew darker as we politely said no to service contracts, wine racks, and other options. Then came the defining moment, delivery and disposal.
Delivery fee – $50.00, haul away the old unit- $20.00. Of course as it was Saturday the soonest they would be able to delivery would be late Monday or early Tuesday. It is at this point in the story that I should let you know that on a windy day I can spit and hit the back of that store. We live three blocks down the street.
So, I countered with a request to use their lift at the back of the store for loading the new unit and no charge if the old unit was delivered to them. With reluctance, they agreed and the manager even was kind enough to help load the new unit even though it was a terribly hot day, and his back was bothering him, and there is so little profit to be made in plain refrigerators.
I wonder what happened to customer service? I wonder when it became an embarrassment to only buy what the budget allowed? I wonder if I am really becoming an old fart that starts far to many conversations with, “When I was a kid …”

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