I am starting to wonder if there is any place in the world that isn’t familiar with Route 66. In the last week I have received requests for information, for assistance in creating a Route 66 exhibit, and for photographs, and had traffic on the blog, from more than ten countries.
In addition, in the past sixty days I have met with people from more than a dozen countries. It is almost as though I am an international traveler even though I have yet to leave town!
What an amazing old road! It serves as a bridge between the past and present as well as between cultures. It inspires people to travel, has transformed a small cafe in a forgotten Texas farming town into an icon, and was the catalyst that elevated a barber in a backwater Arizona town to the status of international celebrity.
Only on Route 66 will the ruins of a trading post bypassed in 1956 be an international destination, even if the road is rutted, overgrown, and filled with sand. Think about this – as you are reading this there are people in Germany, Japan, Australia, and other countries planning to include a neon lit motel in a fast fading New Mexico town, lunch at a cafe in a small Texas farm town, and seeing graffiti covered derelict Cadillacs half buried in a Texas farm field as highlights of their next vacation. Now, tell me there isn’t something almost magical about this amazing old highway!
For an author and photographer who has made the history, mystique, and culture of Route 66 a centerpiece of his work, this carries an incredible responsibility. It becomes an almost sacred duty to ensure accuracy in all work and that photographs capture the color, the raw unvarnished beauty, and the tarnished majesty of the highways landmarks.
My association with this old road spans more than a half century. As a result, my passion for the double six is tinged with sepia toned memories.
|A small park along the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66 in
Still, it has only been in recent years that I began to see this highway as more than a fading relic of my youth. The sense that this road is a national treasure, an American icon to be revered was born from seeing it through the eyes of visitors from foreign shores.
As my way of saying thank you to these foreign visitors, and to give something back to the Route 66 community, I will be announcing a new trivia contest this week. The winner will receive a gift certificate for a print of your choice from the Jim Hinckley Studio, Route 66 Memories gallery. Please, stay tuned for details.