The truncated title for this post actually speaks volumes and prevented a four-hundred word descriptor for all of the things that are about to take place on Route 66, that are associated with that legendary highway, or that will provide ample incentive for a detour or two from that road. First, is the news that the latest issue of 66 The Mother Roadis now available and in my humble opinion, it is the best one yet. Just follow the above link and click on the magazine cover to enter an amazing world where the neon still lights the night and a highway signed with two sixes is still the Main Street of America.
Next up, an added bonus for the Route 66 Fun Run that kicks off this Friday. If you happen to be in Kingman for the event, don’t overlook Beale Street one block north of Route 66. This is fast becoming the very heart of the historic district. If great dining and night life with wonderful ambiance (the Cellar Door with sidewalk seating, Redneck’s Barbecue, Sirens Cafe, and Dora’s Beale Street Deli) aren’t incentive enough to make a little detour, this Friday evening Beale Street Brews & Gallery will be hosting a photographic exhibit featuring the work of renowned photographers Jim Turner and J.C. Amberlyn, as well as examples of our work from various adventures along Route 66. An entire week of activities ranging from poetry nights and gallery exhibits, from authors workshops to street vendors, from authors in the park to live music are just a few of things you can expect at this years KABAM (Kingman Area Books Are Magic) festivities. This all takes place during the week of May 14th. The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma will reopen on May 26. Upgrades and renovations commenced in January to enhance to what is already an excellent facility. Ron Warnick, Route 66 News, posted details on the gala reopening that will include an appearance and book signing by Shellee Graham, Jim Ross, and Jerry McClanahan. This will be part of the Clinton Route 66 festival. If your in the neighborhood for this, there is another great event down the road in Bethany. This is also on the 26th of May. Last, but not least, in Amarillo, Bob Lile has relocated his gallery to the historic district along Route 66 (6th Avenue). This will be the outlet for our limited addition prints. Here is the press release announcing the relocation.
LILE ART GALLERY (owned and operated by Route 66 enthusiast Crocodile Lile), has moved from Sunset Center Art Galleries to Old Route 66 in Amarillo, the new address is: 2719 SW 6th Avenue in the Historic San Jacinto District. The new location is just one half block west of Georgia Street on the south side between the 6th Street Antique Mall & Amarillo’s Route 66 Store & directly across the street from the Amarillo Coin Exchange. Lile is looking forward to meeting Route 66 tour groups as well as individuals, families and local shoppers.
Artists represented: World Renowned Sculptor LINCOLN FOX; Muralist/Photo-Realism painter DOUG QUARLES; Pastel Painter SHARON QUARLES; Watercolorist PETE MORRIS; BOB WALDMIRE’S Route 66 Prints; Photographers JIM HINCKLEY & GORDON RADFORD. LILE is an Abstract Colorist Painter and is known internationally for his Route 66 X-Ray Giclee Prints & Cadillac Ranch Collages, his work is in collections in Australia, Japan, Europe and several states.
Lile began his art career in 1968 under the tutelage of DORD FITZ and studied with Fitz until his death in 1989. Workshops attended include: Famed Sculptor LOUISE NEVELSON, Painters ELAINE DEKOONING, MACK STEWART, ROBERT DASH, NICK KRUSHENICK, HEDDA STERNE & LAWRENCE CALCAGNO.
In addition to Fine Art, Lile Art Gallery will also handle Route 66 Jewelry, ‘Buffalo Road’ Conchos & Snaps for the discriminating biker, TAW Promotion’s Route 66 Caps & Tee Shirts, Route 66 Chambray Shirts as well as other Route 66 Merchandise
A fairly sound argument could be made that Route 66 and the faded, refurbished, or vanishing infrastructure along that highway corridor may be the most famous of America’s transportation time capsules. From Chicago to Santa Monica vestiges from more than a century of transportation evolution are preserved as a hodgepodge collection of roadways and bridges, service stations and motels, dealerships and garages, abandoned automobiles and trucks.
East portal of the Johnson Canyon tunnel.
The speed of this evolution during this past century often resulted in the designation of a road or bridge as obsolete almost as soon as it was complete. Subsequent realignments, and technological advancements in automobile, aircraft, and railroad engineering, fueled the abandonment or transformation of nearly new garages, motels, railroad stations, airports, and service stations. As an overwhelming percentage of my published work focuses on the development of the American auto industry between the years 1885 and 1940, and the majority of the rest is travel orientated, I often find myself opening, visiting, and exploring these time capsules. Still, it was our recent adventure to the circa 1880s Johnson Canyon railroad tunnel that sparked a more intense and in depth look into our transportation time capsules, the tangible links to a very rich history that we often drive by but never see. As an example, Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner in Kingman is a haven for Route 66 enthusiasts. Dating to the late 1930s when the facility opened as the Kimo Cafe, it serves as a direct link to the past. Immediately to the east is an old dealership that seldom garners a second glance unless a vintage or custom car is on display in the former showroom. How many who walk or drive past notice the unique facade of the garage that hints of Ford dealerships during the 1940s or the doorway that was once dominated by a large “E” for Edsel? For me these dusty, tarnished, or abandoned monuments to our quest for speed, for the latest and greatest are more than sources of mere fascination, they are just a bit disturbing. As so eloquently captured in the images on the Ruins of Detroitwebsite, like lines on a weather worn face and the stooped shoulder of of an aged warrior they speak of faded youth with its unbridled exuberance. They are the ruins of a lost civilization and that civilization was mine.
What would have happened if the original alignment of Route 66 had its eastern terminus at Grant Park in Chicago but the western terminus was in Yuma, Arizona? What would have happened if I-40 had been routed west, over Coyote Pass, across the Sacramento Valley, over Union Pass, crossed the Colorado River near Davis Dam and ended in a junction with I-15 near the California/Nevada state line?
Kingman Army Airfield memorial.
As I learned during the research phase of Ghost Towns of Route 66, and the Route 66 Encyclopedia & Atlas, these little bits of alternate history almost became a reality. I also learned that an increase in knowledge about Route 66 and its predecessors leads to the realization about how little I actually knew Initially the National Old Trails Highway utilized segments of the older Trail to Sunset (with its terminus at Grant Park in Chicago) and the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. In fact, for a brief period in 1912 the two organizations joined forces and linked the highways in promotion and development. Even when a contingent of business promoters from Kingman and Needles, later joined by a group from Barstow and Flagstaff, (with what I suspect as financial backing from the railroad) made the presentation at the National Old Trails Highway convention in 1913 that resulted in realignment across northern Arizona, it was not along the course of what became Route 66. Initially the National Old Trails Highway continued on a southerly course from Albuquerque to Socorro before turning west and entering Arizona near Springerville. Hence the Madonna of the Trail commemorative statue in that city. At some point in mid to late 1914, realignment resulted in it roughly following the future course of Route 66 west from Albuquerque. The primary deviation was that road went from Gallup to Window Rock before turning southwest into Arizona. Alternate histories always add a touch of flavor and mystery to evaluating the past it relates to the present and future. The I-40 alignment proposed for the bypass of Yucca, Needles, and everything between there and Barstow was deemed the most cost effective and the most direct. Large degrees were surveyed. Why then did it make the big loop through Needles before striking across the desert? Since before the construction of the Appian Way, politics and favoritism have trumped almost all other considerations in the arena of road construction. How many communities were economically devastated when I-40 replaced Route 66 and they were severed from the commerce vital to their survival much like the mythical Radiator Springs? Why was Needles spared but Baxter Springs and Galena in Kansas were left to wither and die? On occasion, these little jaunts into alternative history provide ample reason for a smile or two. They also provide an illustrated lesson in regard the assumption that the experts are always right. The reasons behind approval of the Kingman Army Airfield site were the same ones that kept the airfield in Las Vegas alive when the plug was pulled in Kingman. See, after World War II informed opinion said that projected growth in Kingman would quickly negate the airfields feasibility while anemic grow in Las Vegas would allow for the airfield there to remain as an isolated desert base for years to come. If there is a moral to be found in this story it is a simple one. History is never boring, alternative history is like finding pieces to the puzzle you thought was complete.
The sporadic posting schedule this past week or so is resultant of my recent discovery that it is impossible to squeeze twenty-six hours of work, family issues, and the myriad details associated with tax season and estate settlement into a twenty-four hour period. I have joked and hinted quite often in recent years that the illusion of still being a spry twenty year old often makes valiant efforts to mask the reality but in the past few weeks that fantasy has been fighting a loosing battle. To ensure the illusion was kept at bay, the wind caught the door of a truck I was working on yesterday and whipped it into my knee, on the leg that is twisted into a pretty fair impression of the letter “S”. So, for those old enough to remember Gun Smoke, I am now doing Chester impressions. Meanwhile, the winds are stirring quite a bit of magic dust all along Route 66from Chicago to Santa Monica. In Needles, California, preservationist Ed Klein has been joined by Richard Tally of the Motel Safari (Tucumcari, New Mexico) in an effort to bring a little glow to the Route 66 corridor in that city. Details, as well as information about how you can help, are available by following this link. With Route 66 as the cornerstone, charming little Cuba, Missouri is being transformed into a true treasure with such rapidity it is difficult to stay abreast of the developments. During the annual Cuba Fest we will throw by the communities infectious efforts with the unveiling of the next book, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas. In Kingman, Rob Chilcoat, the director of the Kingman Army Airfield Museum has launched Double R Tours. For more information about the Kingman historic district Gold, Guns & Ghosts tours call Rob at 928-279-9879 or 928-279-0226. Meanwhile, 66 The Mother Road continues to lead the way with the utilization of modern technology to provide an international voice for the Route 66 community and a world wide store front for the mom and pop shops that are the heart of historic Route 66. If your unfamiliar with the publication, or the Big Palooza contest that will culminate with winner announcements at Cuba Fest, follow the link and then click on the magazine cover.
Of course, the big news for this summer is emanating from Victorville. So, what has the magic dust whipped up in your community?
In a flash. In the blink of an eye. Judging by the wide array of descriptors in the American lexicon about the speed with which things happen, I feel rather safe in assuming that the last seven days of my life aren’t really all that unusual. First, there is the dramatic weather change we have experienced here in Kingman during the past seven days. Last Saturday morning I was wearing long johns, a heavy jacket, and insulated coveralls as I battled a freezing rain, snow flurries and a cold, driving rain. This Saturday morning I spent several hours working under a blazing summer sun – in April. Forecasters are predicting the temperatures will hover around one hundred degrees by Sunday afternoon. On Sunday, Monday, and most of Tuesday the illusion that I am still twenty years of age had taken full control of my subconscious. I was starting every day at 4:30 AM, with a little reading, a little study, a hearty breakfast, weight lifting, and a walk to work. In the evenings I worked several hours on writing assignments from Auctions America as they prepared their catalog for the legendary spring Carlisle auction. Then by lunch on Tuesday a headache began in earnest. By the time it came to close the office, fever and chills were making it quite evident that my celebration of making it through the winter without the flu were premature. Wednesday morning started off on a far different note than those at the first of the week. My temperature was hovering around 102 and, perhaps as a result, the rest of the day was a bit of a blur. As we were again short handed at the office, illness did not warrant a pass for the day. Not surprisingly, by the end of the day I began giving some very serious consideration to postponing Thursday regardless of consequence, and canceling appointments. Amazingly, I awoke the next morning feeling right as rain with the exception of a little light head and extreme weakness! Enhancing the sense of euphoria was the realization I would not have to cancel my long anticipated evening appointment to meet with Lon Haldeman and the PAC tour group riding Route 66. Okay, the euphoria was a bit short lived as by the end of the day I was as weak as a new born kitten and as tired as a one legged man in a butt kicking marathon. Still, as I was wholly convinced the chance of sharing a bug was slim the appointment was kept even though my discussion on Route 66 was a bit more than subpar. I am unsure if this group of Route 66 enthusiasts on the PAC tour was inspirational or depressing. After all, the youngest participant was in their late forties and the oldest was in their seventies and they had just ridden their bicycles from Needles to Kingman via Oatman and earlier that morning I had found difficulty in tying my shoes! As it turned out the informal question and answer meeting was a restorative tonic. Sharing the colorful history of America’s most famous highway, as well as that of the towns and landscapes through which it passes, is something I truly enjoy (hence the writing of several books). As this group was informed, inquisitive, and fascinating the interaction proved to be quite invigorating even if I may have wandered off topic on occasion. When it comes to summer attire my dearest friend is the normal one in the family as I do not own a short sleeved shirt, and wear long johns or a t-shirt all year under my shirt summer and winter. As a result she has a growing collection of Route 66 and commemorative t-shirts while my closet looks as though it belongs to a field hand. Lon Haldeman graciously presented me with a shirt commemorating the groups tour along the western half of Route 66 at the end of the evening. As my dearest friend had been unable to accompany me, the shirt we had a shared memory of the night. The rest of the week was a blur, not resultant of the fever but of the grinding work schedule and a looming six week schedule that is worthy of the German general staff as they planned for the annexation of France through the use of firepower in 1940. First, there is an indefinite future of six day work weeks at the day job. Next there is the Auctions America work that is now in high gear. This weekend there will be a family gathering of sorts at a local park, an exciting and somber sort of thing. In attendance will be my nephew from New Mexico and his children, several of which I have yet to meet, my son and his family, my little sister’s husband and son, and a couple of friends. The last time I met with my nephew was at my sisters funeral in December of 2010. Another missing link will be my dad and his wife. My dad still travels and in fact still out works people half his age, Still, at 84 a cross country trip is a bit much. On Tuesday, I will finalize the sale of my mom’s house and that chapter will soon draw to a close. Then, in the first week of May, I will meet for dinner with Bob Stevens, an old friend and the former editor of Cars & Parts who will be in town for the Route 66 Fun Run. The weekend of the Fun Run, I will work at the office until noon on Saturday, sign books at the Powerhouse Visitor Center, meet with John and Judy Springs, and Dale Butel and his clients from Australia, that evening, and then on Sunday, spend the evening with Dale’s group in Laughlin, Nevada. The weekend of the 19th is KABAM. The first week in June is Wheels on 66 in Tucumcari. In between is development of a promotional schedule for Ghost Towns of Route 66 as well as the forthcoming Route 66 Encyclopedia, some much needed home upgrades, work for Auctions America, and, if all goes as planned, a couple of exciting new writing projects. In a flash …