On numerous occasions circumstances have led me to believe that old Route 66 may connect more than the past and future, and bridge more than international cultures. As Rod Serling used to say (cue the music), this is the Twilight Zone.
My latest excursion into the surreal world of bizarre coincidence on Route 66 involves a professor from the University of Oklahoma, an obscure book about that highway published about fifty years ago, one of the few existent copies turning up in a collection in Australia, an interesting class project, and a photo from 1962.
The story starts with Gary Grees, the professor. Apparently, in the process of developing a class he discovered this illustrated book about Route 66 service stations by Ed Ruscha in about 1962, and set out to find a copy.
In the process he located a copy of the book in Australia, and learned that the author currently lives in Los Angeles. He also discovered Jim Hinckley.
The class Grees developed evolved into a road trip to meet the author, and to locate the sites photographed for his book. In an effort to assist in the latter endeavor he began contacting local historians along Route 66.
Well, in our initial conversation he asked questions about the Flying A station in Kingman. I assumed that we were talking about the former station owned by Bob “Boze” Bell’s father that currently houses Lomeli’s Garden Arts.
Gary Grees offered to send me the Kingman area photos to assist with further identification. I received more than photos, I received a very big surprise.
The Flying A station in the photo wasn’t Bell’s station, it was the old Hobb’s truck stop. The cafe in that picture is currently my office, the last remnant of that truck stop, the place where I had my first conversation with Gary about identifying the photo!
This is the first encounter of this kind, nor is it the strangest. The hands down strangest encounter occurred about thirty five years ago.
At the time I was working in the mines at Santa Rita in New Mexico. This is the oldest continuously operated mine in the United States with origins stretching back to about 1790.
Long ago the mining town by this name had been swallowed by the massive open pit that replaced underground mining at the turn of the 20th century. All that remained were a few empty buildings, a cemetery,and a bar.
Well, one day, at the end of my shift I stopped in the bar to have a cold beer with my brother-in-law, a born and bred Kingman boy who had relocated to the Santa Rita area several years before. As I was a recent transplant the talked turned to changes and developments in Kingman.
As so often happens with such visits, by beer two we were well on our way on a trip down Memory Lane. A favorite watering hole of ours in years past had been the Honolulu Club in Yucca, Arizona along the post 1952 alignment of Route 66.
There we were reminiscing about smoky nights and cold beer when the bar tender chimed in with, “The Honolulu Club is in Oatman.” Needless to say that got my attention, especially since the Honolulu Club in Oatman had closed in about 1946.
As it turned out, her father had been a half owner in the Oatman version of the Honolulu Club, and her mother had worked at the Arizona Hotel in the 1930’s. Now our conversation took a whole new tack.
A runner up to this story, maybe even a tie, occurred about eight years ago. I was working the counter in the former Hobb’s Truck Stop Cafe, but for another company, when an elderly gentlemen stopped in to rent a car as his was in the garage for repair.
There was a bit of friendly business conversation during the rental process. That is how I learned that he was making a road trip on Route 66 to chase a few memories made on a grand adventure in 1952, had developed car trouble near Kingman, and was renting a car to drive to Lake Havasu City to visit with a war buddy (WWII) that he had located through a veterans organization.
Then I looked at his drivers license, with a Jackson, Michigan address, and the conversation took an interesting turn. Not only was that his old hometown, a place he had only recently returned to after more than a fifty year absence, but he attended school in Vandercook Lake, a a little place on the outskirts of Jackson.
Well, my dad grew up in Vandercook Lake (Hinckley Boulevard), had attended the same school, and still lived in Jackson. Wait, it gets better.
The big road trip of ’52 he was reliving, well that grand adventure had included three friends from school who were celebrating the survival of military service in World War II. One of those friends was my dad.
The long and short of the story is this. After that trip these old friends had drifted apart, lost track of each other, raised a family, and retired.
The friend in Lake Havasu City was one of the road tripping foursome from that magical summer of ’52. A third member of that group had died of cancer. Until we met, he had not been able to locate the last of the four musketeers
Cue the music –
Overshadowing the big event in Joplin (the 2013 International Route 66 Festival), and the unfolding of a very exciting season on Route 66, is yesterdays tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma and the surrounding area. Our prayers are with those who have suffered loss as a result of this tragedy.
Even though I have weathered a hurricane or two, the scope of this disaster is difficult to imagine. Words of solace in times such as this seem rather hollow as there is simply no way to fill a void inflicted by the loss of family or friends.
My plan for today’s post was to share a few updates pertaining to Kingman’s ongoing efforts in regard to planning for the 2014 international festival, if they are selected as the host city. Suffice to say everyone involved is quite busy and that indications are that if selected, and if everything goes as planned, there will be more than enough activities to keep everyone busy for at least three days.
I will provide more details soon.
The first half of May, to say the very least, has been most interesting. Of course that is to be expected when you hitch your wagon to the magical allure of legendary Route 66, just ask Laurel and the folks at Afton Station.
As I live in Kingman the month kicked off with the Route 66 Fun, an event that never ceases to amaze or excite me. Still, as with Route 66 itself, it is the people that make it a true delight.
|Jim Hinckley signing books for fans
of the double six from Australia.
This year the fun run provided an opportunity to share dinner with John and Judy Springs, Mike and Sharon Ward, and Bobbie and George Game of the Canadian Route 66 Association. The bonus was the privilege of speaking with, and signing books for, a large group from Australia being led by Dale and Kristi-Anne Butel, and an opportunity to play tour guide for Mark Fletcher of Classic Restos.
Last weekend I was blessed with another opportunity to share the history of Route 66 in the Kingman area, and to sign a few books, for more fans of the double six from the land down under. Even better, I was privileged to have an opportunity to meet with the parents of Dale Butel, and Rod Hokin, a prolific collector of classic Imperials from Oz.
|Jim Hinckley and members of the Czech Route 66
Association at Dora’s Beale Street Deli in Kingman.
The food poisoning picked up on Friday definitely put a damper on the fun. Still, the magic elixir that is meeting with enthusiastic fans of the double six from the four corners of the globe helped me survive an otherwise miserable weekend.
On Tuesday morning my dearest friend and I kicked off the day with an interesting breakfast shared with Zdnek Jurasek, his wife Eva, and members of the Czech Route 66 Association at Dora’s Beale Street Deli. Even though there were extreme limitations in the conversation resultant of language barriers, we all spoke Route 66 and as a result, had a great deal to share.
Friday I had a most enjoyable lunch with Nick Gerlich who was on his way to the Cajon Pass. Nick, and Rich Dinkela, are the Indiana Jones of the Route 66 community.
As you may have noticed a new page has been added to the top of the blog. This new page, Jim Hinckley’s America, will have the podcast links for my weekly radio program, as well as video updates, and other itmes associated with the development of this brand name.
Now that takes me to the radio program. Okay, in listening to it I can see the need for a bit of polish but overall it accomplished my goal of promoting the places and people that make Route 66 and the adventures on the back roads so special. Would you care to share your thoughts and suggestions for future programs?
Next week the focus turns to Kingman. After that the schedule calls for a program dedicated to Route 66 between Glorieta Pass and Las Vegas, Route 66 in New Mexico (live from the road), and then Prescott, Arizona and the surrounding area.
Plans are to pursue syndication of the program to reach a larger audience. In either case it will provide a unique advertising opportunity for business owners. If you would like more information about these opportunities contact Sunny Aris at Alamo 1230.
Now my attentions have to turn toward work on the current book project, a Route 66 historic atlas, plans to ensure Kingman serves as the host city for the 2014 International Route 66 Festival (it is in Joplin this year), a few articles for Brad Bowling at Antique Power, and the myriad of details to resolve before the June adventure to New Mexico. The latter includes a meet and greet at Bookworks in Albuquerque on the evening of the 7th, and a bit of fun at the Enchanted Trails Trading Post in conjunction with the New Mexico Route 66 Motor Tour later that evening.
See you on the road –
Have you ever set out on a road trip with no particular destination in mind? Have you ever missed the fork in the road, gotten lost as a result, and discovered the most amazing little cafe that served the best pie ever tasted?
Well, that gives you a bit of an idea where I stand in life at this point in time. I set out with no particular destination in mind, took a detour or two, and arrived at a place that could never have been imagined and is almost impossible to describe.
Today is my birthday but aside from personal significance this has no bearing on the continuing orbit of this planet or the price of beans in Mexico. Still, I find birthdays to be an ideal milepost that serves as a point of reference for reflection on the miles traveled and the road ahead.
The road ahead, as is often the case, looks to be of the type that quickens the spirit with the promise of adventure. However, I harbor no illusions. Hard earned experience measured in miles traveled tells me there will be potholes, detours, and long empty places that tinge the journey with a sense of despair.
Adding a sense of excitement to the adventure that looms on the near horizon is Jim Hinckley’s America, a joke that became an idea and an idea that is about to become a reality. Tomorrow morning Jim Hinckley’s America takes to the airwaves, and cyber space, with a weekly radio program that will take listeners with me on travels along the road less traveled.
If all goes as planned, the video versions of my back road travels will debut soon. In addition to the name, these, as well as the tours and speaking engagements, will share theme music as well as my trademarked logo. Jim Hinckley’s America is about to become a brand name.
This is all pretty heady stuff for a kid from nowhere that was on the fast track to the same place. However, for me the significance and reward is not in the name recognition.
No, that has always been more of a perk than a goal. The reward, as with my books and feature articles published, is in the opportunities all of these endeavors provide to encourage someone, or to promote a special place often overlooked by folks rushing through life.
To be honest, however, the greatest reward is in that my accomplishments, my successes are a monument to someone truly special, my dearest friend. All that I am, all that I have accomplished, and everything that I may accomplish in the years to come, I owe to her.
I know of no way to repay her for the years of patient support and encouragement, the long days on the road the hard times, and the lean times, other than to develop gifts and talents. Fame and fortune may prove elusive, or they may be bestowed upon me in buckets but in either case I am a man richly blessed because of a friend who inspired me to chase a dream, and who decided to come along for the ride.
Regular followers of the blog most likely noticed my absence this past few days. Well, to be honest I missed most of the last few days.
I will skip the gory details but suffice to say something I ate for lunch on Saturday shouldn’t have been. So, as a result, the long weekend to do list remains a long to do list but now with additions.
The one exception to my lunch induced weekend exile from the land of the living was a commitment to meet with Dale Butel’s group on Saturday to sign a few books, to speak on Route 66 history in western Arizona, and to answer questions over lunch at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. Needless to say I skipped lunch but the root beer was most refreshing.
I always enjoy meeting with visitors and fans of the double six but the get together on Saturday was filled with unexpected bonuses. Dale’s mother and father had joined this tour, and my dearest friend and I had the opportunity for a most enjoyable visit.
Rod Hokin, also from Australia but not with the tour, also met me at the Powerhouse. I have long heard of his fabulous collection of vintage Chrysler Imperials so this was a real treat.
Most of the weekend was spent in recovery mode, AKA intermittent naps. So, I started the week off feeling much improved but as weak as a kitten.
Now, its time to make up for as much lost time as possible. There is still a great deal of work to be done before my radio debut with a weekly travel program, Jim Hinckley’s America, and I am behind on my self imposed schedule for the Route 66 historic Atlas. My hope is to be back on course before the trip in June.
First, however, is another opportunity to visit with friends and visitors from distant shores. On Tuesday morning my dearest friend and I will be meeting with Zdnek Jurasek, his charming wife, and Route 66 fans from the Czech Republic for breakfast at Dora’s Beale Street Deli in Kingman. If you happen to be in the neighborhood stop by as my motto is the more the merrier.