THE LONG ROAD TO CUBA
I am not sure when the quest to use my writing and photography to promote Route 66, its unique culture, and the people who give it life and vitality began. However, I do know who set that quest in motion – Bob Waldmire.
We met shortly after he began moving into the old Hackberry General Store in Hackberry, Arizona. Even though I lean a bit toward the red neck side my view is that there is a danger of becoming so narrow minded you can look down a beer bottle with both eyes if you don’t associate with, and cultivate friends from a wide spectrum of life. Bob was at the far end of my spectrum.
Over the years Bob and I became fairly good friends. And as that friendship developed I began to see Route 66, a highway that had been a part of my life since infancy, in a different light. The rest, as they say, is history.
Initially my writings were centered on the development of the American automotive industry, specifically between the years 1885 and 1940. The one deviation was a weekly travel column written for the Kingman Daily Miner.
Meanwhile, I promoted Route 66 in my corner of the world and became frustrated by the lack of progress in preserving its unique attributes in my adopted hometown. With the exception of one particular endeavor, my contributions were rather anemic.
I served as the chairman for the organizing committee of the Arizona Route 66 Association in charge of the Route 66 Fun Run.
We introduced a few changes. Some, like relocating the main event from Centennial Park to downtown Kingman became integral components for the event. Others, like hosting a display of Shelle Grahams work at the Hotel Beale, fell by the wayside.
The first real opportunity to promote the entire road through my work came with the contract to write Ghost Towns of Route 66. This book provided me with an unprecedented opportunity to add depth and context to the Route 66 experience as well as shine the light on towns where the resurgent interest came far to late.
With the Route 66 encyclopedia project, I was presented with an incredible opportunity for the promotion of the road. In October of 2011, as we traveled Route 66 to promote the ghost town book, and to gather photos for the encyclopedia, I began to expand on this line of thought and to develop the idea of using the books debut and initial promotion to bolster the promotional efforts of a community along the road.
The question of where followed us in our travels. Pontiac and Atlanta, Barstow and Santa Monica, Tucucmcari and Kingman all seemed like ideal places for what I envisioned. Then we arrived at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri to sign books along with Riva Echols and Joe Sonderman.
Even though the reception was a bit anemic there was a magic in the air; Connie’s determined enthusiasm, Jane Reed’s friendly focus, and the sense that this was a town where my support in the form of drawing media attention could be utilized with effectiveness. And so we selected Cuba Fest in Cuba for the big kick off.
Then we will take the show on the road. May I be of service to you and your efforts to promote Route66 or your unique community? If so, please drop me a note and lets see what I can do to help.