I actually had a couple of quiet minutes at the office this morning that allowed me to take a deep breath and think. As my office (one of the last buildings from the old Hobb’s Truck Stop) fronts Route 66, and as that highway has consumed a great deal of my time this past few weeks in the form off research and writing, it is only natural that this road would be at the forefront of my thoughts.
As the old truck stop was once an important part of my life it often seems as if the veil between past and present is quite thin. There are even times when first opening the office in the mornings that it seems as though I can still smell the bacon, the coffee, and the cigarette smoke.
Seldom could I resist the urge to stop at Hobb’s Truck Stop when I made my monthly trips to Kingman from Cedar Springs Ranch or the X-Bar-1 at Hackberry. The thought of green chili huevos rancheros and good coffee would usually start dominating my thoughts by the time I rolled past Stuckey’s and by the time Logasville was vanishing from view in the mirror those thoughts had become an obsession.
The food was actually quite good and the coffee always excellent. Still, as Kingman had some excellent restaurants at that time, I suppose it was more the maelstrom of activity after weeks of self imposed exile that lured me back time and again.
Times change. The truck stop vanished and the last remnants were masked. Whiting Brothers service station across the street disappeared and from that empty spot rose a NAPA auto parts store.
I-40 diverted the torrent of traffic that flowed through town on Route 66. Then a McDonald’s was built and a tide of generic chain restaurants began crowding out the great mom and pop shops – the El Mohave, Frontier Cafe, Beale Cafe, Jan’s Soda Fountain – to name but a few.
Times change the man. When this was Hobb’s Truck Stop, I was just a deeply tanned field hand with calloused palms cleaning my plate with a warm tortilla as a drone of voices played as background music.
Now, the hands are a bit softer, the tan has faded, the hair is just a tad grey around the edges, and only misty memories remind me that this is the place where I once lost my wallet to a pick pocket, where I would top off the tank before heading back to the ranch after a long weekend, and where I once felt so at home.
Its odd how time can twist the path of life into a labyrinth of connected places. My son is currently employed in the parts department of the Chrysler dealership, in the same building where his grandfather was once the shop steward.
For me, it seems all roads lead to Route 66 or it is Route 66 that leads me to other places. For more than a half century that old road seems to be the stage for the events of my life and there is no sign of that changing any time soon. That is a good thing.
Well, before I get back to the grind, here are a couple of quick reminders. Don’t forget about our contest – just send us a note about your favorite Route 66 memory. And don’t forget about the exciting contest being sponsored by the fine folks at 66 The Mother Road magazine.