CHRISTMAS AND BEYOND

CHRISTMAS AND BEYOND

The chances of there being time available for me to write a post before Christmas are rather slim. So, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas.
Even though we have just over a week left in 2013, this seems to be an appropriate time to share a few of the highlights of our adventures from the year. Of course that would have to begin and end with a hearty thank you to each and everyone who contributed to making it so enjoyable.



MY HOMETOWN (SORT OF)

MY HOMETOWN (SORT OF)

Technically Kingman isn’t my hometown. I entered this world in Morehead City, North Carolina and lived in Norfolk, Virginia as well as Port Huron, Michigan before arriving in Kingman in the summer of 1966. And I only lived in Kingman until the early 1970s.
However, I did return in the winter of ’76 (Christmas Eve day to be exact), made another detour in the form of several years spent working in the mines and on ranches around Silver City, New Mexico shortly after that, and then set up permanent camp here in early 1981. Since then I met and married my dearest friend, raised a son, built and lost a business, started over, played Don Quixote in the ongoing battle to breathe life into the historic district, and as a midlife crisis, decided to seriously pursue the childhood quest of becoming a writer in Kingman.
I may not be a native like my dearest friend, but it was on the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 in the shadow of the Black Mountains that I learned to ride a bicycle and to drive. I earned a paycheck at the long gone Canyon Farms Dairy, rented an apartment at the Hotel Beale, and took my dearest friend on dates to Jan’s Soda Fountain in the Kingman Drug. 
I watched the vital, thriving historic and colorful heart of the town wither on the vine as Desert Drug and Central Commercial, Kingman Club and Frontier Café, Peppermint Shop and Watson’s Bakery close, and I watched decades of failed and futile attempts to breathe new life into it. The latest endeavor is in the form of the Route 66 International Festival.
As a catalyst for development and revitalization the event is unprecedented. There is an historic partnership between Kingman Now LLC, the organizing entity behind the event, and Hualapai Tourism, and an international obsession with Route 66 that when coupled with appearances by celebrities such as Bob “Boze” Bell and a Japanese author introducing a new book at the festival, and the planned attendance by several international groups, should ensure media coverage.
There is also an unprecedented wave of investment in the historic district. Dora Manly is spearheading the development of the new event center, Siren’s Café received a nod from Arizona Highway’s, Beale Street Brews and Gallery and the Wine Cellar are fast becoming popular hangouts, a microbrewery has opened, and this past weekend, a bakery and ice cream parlor opened.

If I were to have but one concern for the events potential to serve as the spark, the one thing that will push revitalization efforts over the top, it would be the simple fact that to a large degree Kingman is still mired in the apathy that strangled so many other promising projects.
Time will tell. There are months to go, and many exciting things taking place.
A new season of Chillin’ on Beale begins in April. The Route 66 Fun Run is scheduled for the first weekend in May. The micro car tour will be rolling through town shortly after that date. And, of course, there will be a legion of international Route 66 enthusiasts motoring east and west on voyages of discovery.
Could this be the year of the Phoenix? Could 2014 be the year that sees Kingman transformed from a stop on the road to somewhere to destination for people from everywhere?
Time will tell, and that is but one reason I look toward 2014 with anticipation, a sense of excitement, and a hint apprehension.
        
       
  
FROM THE INNER SANCTUM

FROM THE INNER SANCTUM

Over the years an odd tradition has developed with this blog and that is closing out the year with views from the inner sanctum, that odd enclave where ideas become books, memories made manifest in souvenirs and trinkets collect, and an eclectic library continues to grow. Yesterday, I spent most of the day looking for the office that was buried deep under piles of notebooks, folders, print outs, scans of old newspapers, books with colorful post it tabs, assorted pages of scribbling’s, mail, ledgers, and assorted odds and ends that seem to accumulate during a project. 
As Route 66 is such an integral part of our lives, the office is filled with mementos from road trips, notes from friends and fans of my work, and historic links to that highways past. How many Route 66 locations, personalities, or friends of the road can you find represented in the eclectic collection?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEAS, PLANS FOR THE NEW YEAR, AND ASSORTED NOTES

LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEAS, PLANS FOR THE NEW YEAR, AND ASSORTED NOTES

Somewhere between the crass commercialism that is at the heart of the modern Christmas celebration and the Christian philosophy that serves as the holidays foundational underpinnings is a magic place of tradition, of family gatherings, and heartfelt gift giving. And somewhere between Christmas and New Years Day is often the time for reflection, making plans for a new year that often include short lived promises, and a maelstrom of emotions. 
In our homestead I seem to have lost track of time and as a result, a few folks will be receiving Christmas wishes and packages just a bit late, depending on delivery times from Amazon.com. If your in a similar position this might be your best bet for last minute shopping.
I am still locked into brick and mortar store shopping but to say the very least, the recent Christmas shopping experience at Amazon.com was most fascinating. Of course, I am also fascinated by the phenomena of cell phones, GPS units in cars, and people who pay for tans while living in Arizona.
Even though I can see in my online shopping experience the demise of the big generic box store, and a revolution in rural living, in my world it will never replace the simple pleasure of shopping at the mom and pop stores. Speaking of mom and pop shops, did I mention that a new bakery and ice cream parlor opened on Route 66 (Andy Devine Avenue) in Kingman today?
Today’s schedule didn’t allow for stopping to sample the goodies so I did a simple drive by photo shoot shortly after sunrise. As a result, a report on the quality will have to be made after Christmas.
As the primary goal for the early morning outing, aside from a much needed haircut, was to photograph a couple of celebrity associated sites for the new book, I spent most of an hour in the Kingman historic district perfecting my drive by photographing techniques.
The primary locations were the former Methodist Church, where Clark Gable and Carol Lombard tied the knot in 1939, and the very tarnished Hotel Beale. The latter served as a home away from home for Buster Keaton, Tap Duncan, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, the crew of the Memphis Belle, and a wide array of notables over the years. 
I don’t have a great deal of hope that the old hotel will ever be restored. The family that owns the property seems to be quite unreasonable as they have turned down a number of offers (some of which were for staggering sums) for the property over the years. 
Still, with the ice cream parlor and bakery opening in the same block, and the refurbishment of the historic Brunswick Hotel well underway there is the faintest of possibilities that the tarnished gem may some day get a bit of polish.
Since announcement of Kingman serving as the host city for the Route 66 International Festival, I have received a number of request and inquiries about the possibility of a Beale Hotel tour during the big event. The answer is it isn’t likely but I am working on it. 
In our neck of the woods the big event for 2014 will be the festival, an event that has already taken on an historic stature resultant of the partnership between Kingman Now, the organizing entity, and Hualapai Tourism, and the developing spotlight on alternative energy vehicles as well as related infrastructure. Of course, as with Route 66 itself, it is the people that will make this event a truly spectacular moment in that highways history. 
And that takes us to the next item. Who plans on attending the festival next August? Will you be driving, flying, or taking the train? Will you be a visitor or will you be participating as an author, a collector, or vintage car enthusiasts? Or will you be here to add to the exhibition of alternative energy vehicles from the past, present, and future?   
     
MY (ADOPTED) HOMETOWN, LESSONS LEARNED FROM MISTAKES MADE, AND HOPES FOR A BRIGHT NEW FUTURE

MY (ADOPTED) HOMETOWN, LESSONS LEARNED FROM MISTAKES MADE, AND HOPES FOR A BRIGHT NEW FUTURE

Immediately after my return from the World Monuments Fund sponsored Route 66 symposium in Anaheim,California, I walked into a firestorm of controversy, largely the result of misunderstanding and rumor. In an effort to calm the storm and nurture the cooperative spirit of the conference, I began posting a summary of the information obtained there and examples of how communities were harnessing the resurgent interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for development. 
Then, in providing assistance to the developers of the 2014 Route 66 International Festival I got caught up in the enthusiasm dampening apathy that ebbs and flows in my adopted hometown of Kingman. You may have noticed a sense of frustration in recent posts.   
Well, this morning I would like to shake that dust from my shoes, focus on 2014, and continue with a series of posts about positive developments along the Route 66 corridor. The hope is that I will spark some enthusiasm as well as creative thinking.
First, however, I have a request. Would you take a moment to read this article in the Kingman Daily Miner, and then put in your two cents worth with a letter to the editor?
I hope that shared notes about the transitional success of other communities, what visitors see in Kingman, and positive thoughts from people who live here might be a step toward breaking the cycle of apathy that hinders development.
Now, lets look at a few creative grass roots endeavors. In Holbrook, David Heward kicked off a Route 66 Electric Car Club with a Facebook page.
Even though  the primary focus is on GEM cars, in its first weeks of activity it is generating interest and involvement in Winslow as well as Holbrook. We have even discussed participation of the GEM car owners from these communities taking part in the festivities at the Route 66 International Festival next August.
In this fledgling endeavor we can see the laying of a foundation for cooperative efforts between the communities of Winslow and Holbrook. Now, imagine the possibilities as David is also actively working on developmental projects in the Holbrook historic district, and is sparking community interest by posting photos and information about the successful mural projects in Kingman and Winslow, and speculating on a Telsa charging station.
All along the Route 66 corridor are countless examples of similar grass roots endeavors that became the catalyst for dramatic community transformation with international implications. How many people knew of Afton, Oklahoma before Laurel Kane and her husband established Afton Station, and Laurel began blogging about her adventures there?
Now it is an international destination for thousands of travelers and Route 66 enthusiasts. The town itself still languishes but Laurel has served as an inspiration for countless others.
Likewise with Angel Degadillo, Gary Turner, Bill Shea, Rich Henry Kevin and Nancy Mueller,  Kumar Patel, “Croc” Lile, Connie Echols, and Richard Talley. Each of these people exemplify the fact that the power to transform a community, to make a town a destination, is in the hands of anyone with a thick skin, ambition, imagination, and perseverance.
Galena, Kansas was a faded, fading mining town before Melba Riggs and Renee Charles partnered in the creation of Four Women on the Route. Even Route 66 enthusiasts were so distracted by the Big Texan and Cadillac Ranch that they missed the best Amarilo has to offer along the Sixth Avenue corridor (an early alignment of Route 66) until Bob Lile got involved.
The biggest obstacle to seeing these efforts bear fruit is personal frustration that leads to thoughts of throwing in the towel. Fortunately a few folks are simply to stubborn, or to broke, to give up.
Without them the world would be a much porter place. Now, if I can just take my own advice, look toward these folks for inspiration, and not allow my hunger for a community that exudes vitality and enthusiasm to inspire us to move rather than keep plodding on…