Monday was a rather busy and interesting day. I spoke at the Arizona Explorers luncheon about the unique nature of Route 66 ghost towns and must have piqued some interest as this was followed by a lengthy and interesting question and answer period.
Then last evening I had an opportunity to meet with David Heward of the Holbrook based Route 66 Electric Car Club. We discussed the forthcoming Route 66 International Festival, ideas about his clubs participation, and how Holbrook can be represented as well as benefit.
Mike Wagner of Kingman Now provided some exciting updates about the festival. Heading the list was commitment from the Dolan Springs Chamber of Commerce with a tentative plan to have a gold panning exhibit, which would allow the younger folks to get some hands on frontier experience, and spark a possible prospecting bug in the adults.
On the film festival front, the chairman (Rob Chilcoate) informed me that progress is moving forward with eight independent film producers committed to participation. These include Zdnek Jurasek and Ester Brym.
I also learned yesterday that Dave and Kathy Alexander of Legends of America are on board. Promotion of the festival on their vast, informative, and fascinating website kicked off on Monday.
Today Mike Wagner will be meeting with Angela (the chairman for the vendors and authors exhibition) to move that aspect forward. The event center is reserved to serve as the primary exhibition area, and discussions for the use of two other historic buildings is underway, as is the reservation of two parks in the historic district.
Now, the search for participating vendors, authors, artists, collectors, and representatives from various Route 66 associations and organizations begins in earnest. As noted previously, I provided Angela with a lengthy list of friends and fellow authors, as well as people who have made inquiries about participation.
Still, if you don’t receive a call or note in the next few weeks, or are interested in participating in this capacity, please let me know. I will be more than happy to follow up for you.
Now a few notes about the recent post on trying to understand the mystique of Route 66. This is from historian and author Scott Piotrowski.
 I’ve long pondered this same question of “what makes Route 66 so special.” My persepctive near the western terminus may be different from most, but I’ve reached a conclusion. You seem close to that same conclusion, Jim, when you say “A simplistic answer is that from its inception U.S. 66 has had the best press and publicity.” Without a doubt the public perception is different for 66 than it is 6, 80, 99, or even the Lincoln Highway or Yellowstone Trail to some extent for the simple reason of publicity. But my conclusion is that the publicity comes from the likes of John Steinbeck, Bobby Troup, and Martin Milner. Further, that conclusion derives from the theory that we write or speak about what we know. So many people came to their roles in entertainment via the double-sixes that they wanted to talk about what brought them there. That’s the same thing for me. And that is what put 66 in the public eye more than anything else, and what makes it stand apart from the Ridge Route and our other favorite historic highways.”
In response to that posting I also received a few gentle criticisms as it was noted that the road must be experienced. Some foreign followers of the blog responded by saying a Route 66 trip is in their plans but it is not feasible at this time.
I am understanding of their plight and frustration. For me there has long been a hunger to experience key sites associated with World War II in Europe. Reading about these places only provides a shallow sense of understanding.
In regard to Route 66, a slight balm to that frustration is the fact that many Americans are unfamiliar with the magic and the allure of Route 66. More than a few try to understand it vicariously.
That is only possible to a point. Like love, the searing heat of a summer day in the Mojave Desert, or wading on to the beach at Normandy, it is something that will need to be experienced for a full and complete understanding.
Of course, this is only my opinion. Please keep in mind that I feel it will be impossible to fully grasp the Route 66 of the Great Depression until I pilot a Model A Ford down its dusty tracks under an relentless summer sun, and camp in its shadow along a stream.
Now a final couple of questions, what community is hosting the 2015 Route 66 International Festival? Can we link promotion for the 2014 event to give that community a leg up? May I offer my services in regard to the development of that festival?