ROUTE 66 – AMERICA’S LONGEST NEIGHBORHOOD
Route 66 is often referred to as a community, a 2,000 plus mile time capsule where every day is small town America circa 1955. Route 66 is a community, it is also a time capsule but what is preserved is not small town America circa 1955 but what we imagine that time and place was like.
In that sense it is a great deal like the mythical Mayberry where Andy, Barney, Aunt Bee and a host of colorful characters are as familiar to us as our neighbors and as welcoming as a reunion of long lost friends. It is the neighborhood of our childhood complete with local barber, town drunk, apple trees to climb, tire swing, and swimming hole.
|Left to right, Dale Butel, Route 66 Tours, Judy and John
Springs, 66 The Mother Road.
Counted among the many things that fascinate me about this highway is how something so purely American can hold sway, and inspire memories as well as dreams in people from every corner of the globe. Several weeks ago we had dinner with a group from Holland, Germany, and Austria led by Dries Bessels of Amsterdam. Last night we met with a group from Australia and New Zealand led by Dale Butel, owner of Route 66 Tours.
Route 66 bridged every barrier of language and culture. Route 66, a highway that, technically, ceased to exist decades ago made us a community, a tight knit friendly neighborhood.
That, in my humble opinion, is the key to understanding the ever growing popularity of this truncated and segmented old road. On Route 66 the sense of comforting familiarity, of shared experience, and child like excitement for the journey itself is somehow distilled into a magic elixir that blinds us to the fact some of the towns through which the old highway passes are a bit worn down at the heel and that makes everyone met along the way a friend or neighbor.
For those of us fortunate enough to live along this magical old highway there is an almost endless opportunity to “chew the fat” with neighbors, to meet with old friends, and to make new acquaintances. Every day is another opportunity to hang around the fishing hole, to swap stories at the barber shop, and talk sports over coffee and pie at the corner diner. To live along America’s longest neighborhood is as close as we can come to whiling away the hours in Mayberry.