It was a delightful and fun filled event that my dearest friend and I enjoyed immensely. Even better, it was an event that was shared with, and enjoyed by friends from the Netherlands.
The Best of the West on 66 Festival was but one manifestation of how Kingman, Arizona was transformed by the 2014 Route 66 International Festival.
The long dormant Route 66 Association of Kingman was reactivated shortly after that event, and has become a leader in historic district revitalization initiatives, in the fostering of a sense of community purpose, the marketing of Kingman internationally, and an array of beautification projects.
As examples, in partnership with the local True Value store, the Hualapai Tribe, and Legacy Signs, the organization launched an ongoing graffiti clean up program, a mural program, and neon sign restoration program. They have also contributed signs for organizations and businesses such as Luv of Paws and Route 66 Car Wash.
In partnership with the Graves family, the facade renovation at the Old Trails Garage, a current project, is generating tremendous international interest.
In large part this is resultant of the recovery and restoration of a towering circa 1930 neon lit Packard sign that hasn’t seen the sun since the 1940’s. The lighting of this sign will surely serve as a catalyst for revitalization a block that is at the heart of the historic business district.
Good times and good friends were the order of the day this past weekend. I didn’t expect anything different. After all, these are exciting times in Kingman, Arizona.
|Goldroad before the bust. Courtesy Steve Rider|
I made it, it is high noon on Sunday.
So far this week has included memorable adventures with good friends, ghost towns, the finalizing of road trip plans for the October odyssey, a near disaster, playing guide to international journalists from France, the Czech Republic and India, creating presentations for the Needles Chamber of Commerce fund raising dinner, Cuba Fest, and Missouri History Museum, intriguing electrical problems with the Jeep, Chillin’ on Beale, a couple of delightful dinners seasoned with laughter and lively conversation, forgotten desert cemeteries, and a couple of meetings. To say the very least, this week has been most interesting and quite exhausting.
|The forgotten cemetery in
Gold Road, Arizona.
Last Saturday evening, my dearest friend and I enjoyed a delightful dinner at Mattina’s in Kingman. This hidden little gem located a few blocks north of Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) in the city’s historic district isn’t suited for those operating on a McDonald’s budget. However, if your looking for superb Italian food in Kingman, unique ambiance and an expansive wine list, or locally brewed beer, this is the place. A sense of humor is needed to best appreciate the ambiance and menu offerings.
|Near disaster on Sitgreaves Pass|
As Dries and I share a sense of adventure, over the years we have had more than a few very memorable outings including some exploration of WWI sites around Ypres Belgium with stops at places like the engineering marvel of Maeslantkeringweg. Another outing of note included his charming wife (Marion), sister, and brother-in-law, my dearest friend, Sean Evans and his wife, on a very blustery day at Two Guns.
The cemetery is but one of the fast fading vestiges in this old mining town that had an accidental discovery by Jose Jerez in May 1900 along the original course of the Beale Wagon Road as a cornerstone.
|Jim, our guide at the Gold Road mine, and Dries
Bessels at the forlorn old cemetery.
It was just after we cleared the summit of the pass that things took a very unexpected turn. An elderly brother and sister from Kingman were traveling to Oatman with friends when they lost control of their motorcycle and steered it into an embankment. Jeans and t-shirts provide scant protection for a body bouncing and sliding on pavement, gravel, sand, and into cacti.
We arrived on scene mere minutes after the accident, and shortly after a gentlemen headed east had stopped. As it turned out, this stranger had once worked on an ambulance. I called the fire department in Oatman and provided water, Dries and other travelers directed traffic. We provided assistance where possible.
The driver suffered extensive road rash. His sister was the concern; broken arm, road rash, and a severe bump and cut on the head.
Kudos to the Oatman fire department as they responded in as timely a manner as the road allowed. Likewise with the ambulance crew even though it took them a bit longer (they came from Bullhead City).
I am not a motorcycle rider. However, being an ardent fan of convertibles and in my youth, bicycles, I know on a warm day how tempting it is to forego the constraints of a helmet and assorted protective gear. This little tragedy on old Route 66 provides an illustrated sermon on the importance of such gear.
Shortly after the departure of the ambulance, traffic began flowing again and we continued on our westward journey toward Oatman. The first stop was in Gold Road, and as luck would have it, we met Jim, the caretaker in charge of security at the temporarily closed mine.
A most gracious host, after inquiring about the cemetery we piled into his dusty quad and set out on the rutted, rocky track that coursed below stark towers of waste materials from the mine and ore processing. Along the way he pointed out an occasional stone wall, all that remained from the jail, and similar remnants from a once bustling community erased in an effort to avoid tax liabilities back in the 1940’s.
Little remains of the cemetery; a faint outline of a grave framed with stones, a weathered and collapsing wooden fence. Still, it provided a tangible link to when this was a place where people dreamed, loved, hoped, and died.
The international nature of our week rounded out on Friday and Saturday.
On Friday evening we enjoyed a great dinner with Zdenek Jurasek, a friend from the Czech Republic who wears many hats including president of the Czech Route 66 Association, and his traveling companions, Petra Savaskan and Tomas Zindler. Joining us were a few Kingman celebrities like Greg Arnold, the city manager and his wife, and other local Route 66 enthusiasts.
On Saturday morning, as Zdnek headed west on his solo bicycle ride on Route 66, I provided a brief tour of the Kingman historic district. On the heels of that tour, I met with a team of French journalists, and provided an interview as well as tour of Kingman.
Latter that afternoon I met with the director and producer of the Jim Hinckley’s America Trek Across Route 66 video series that is currently under development. A teaser can be viewed at the Promote Kingman website.
To wrap up the first video in the series, we hit Chillin on Beale. As always, it was a lively event with a wide array of colorful vehicles on display. I think that this will add some series vibrancy to the first episode.
Now, some much needed rest, wrapping up the loose ends from last week, and preparing for what promises to be a wild woolly week or two.
A SOMBER DAY FOR REFLECTION, ROAD TRIPS, MEET THE NEIGHBORS, PUTTING IN YOUR TWO CENTS WORTH, AND NEW ADDITIONS FOR THE LIBRARY
First, however, today is definitely a day for somber reflection. As with the assassination of President Kennedy (I was sent home from school early that dark day in November of 1963) people remember exactly where they were when first hearing the news of the unfolding disaster in New York City.
It was noted previously that I picked up a most interesting book at the airport in Frankfurt, To Hell And Back: Europe 1914 to 1949. The book is dry and a bit deep. It is also eerily timely; the rise of extreme right wing nationalism, currency crisis, manipulation of public opinion for consolidation of political power, utilization of regional conflicts as a means for bolstering weak economies that in turn result in a flood of immigrants that make ideal scape goats, unions and liberal coalitions fighting rapacious corporations that maximize profits at the expense of workers, abandonment of promises made to military veterans resulting in simmering anger, border crisis, and a collapse of public confidence in government.
//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jimhinsame-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=0141980435&asins=0141980435&linkId=47dea96585d628b39e1a2ac9b516231b&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff I strongly recommend this book. But don’t plan on a speedy read, take it in bites, and meditate on what was read.
Okay, now for something a bit lighter – road trips. The schedule for October is almost finalized. However, I still can squeeze in a presentation or two for organizations, museums, or as a community event, or an interview. And I most always have time to visit with friends and friends yet made over pie and coffee during our travels.
At this time, scheduled overnight stops include Las Vegas (the original one on the Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico), Shamrock, Claremore, Joplin, Lebanon, Cuba (a Friday night presentation at the Wagon Wheel Motel and the Road Crew on Saturday night at Belmont Winery), St. Louis, Union City, Tennessee, Bloomington, Illinois (the Miles of Possibilities Conference), Red Oak, Iowa, Holdredge, Nebraska, and Canon City and Cortez in Colorado.
Bracketing the October trip is the Best of the West on 66 Festival in Kingman on the weekend of October 23, a presentation in Laughlin, Nevada at the Needles Chamber of Commerce fund raising dinner, and a presentation on Route 66 in the southwest for a tour company during their stop in Kingman. Shortly after our return, we will set out for the 90th anniversary of Route 66 celebration in Los Angeles.
I have a new sponsor for this particular series of trips. Even better, Hualapai Lodge, Grand Canyon West Resort, is at the heart of an adventure wonderland on the Hualapai Reservation; the only road that provides access to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, the only two day rafting trips in the canyon, and much, much more.
//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jimhinsame-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=0760349746&asins=0760349746&linkId=7b435062b7d4cbad432c5eba0f00ab9e&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff Joe Sonderman has a new book coming out soon. I had hoped to pick up a signed copy during Cuba Fest, But Joe sent a note informing me that the scheduled date for release is closer to Christmas.
Joe has graciously supplied numerous historic images for my books, and has written numerous books on Route 66. Needless to say, I am quite eager to get a copy, especially after being afforded a sneak peak.
Next, in response to the inquiries about the Jim Hinckley’s America; A Trek Across Route 66 video teaser posted on the Promote Kingman Facebook page, the plan is for the first episode to be complete by fall. This is another project that has had an array of false starts in the course of the last year or two but I am confident that this time everything is in place to bring it to fruition.
Your opinions, thoughts, and suggestions about this project would be most appreciated. You may contact me directly, or the technical folks My Marketing Designs that are behind the development of this video series. Their phone number if 928-637-6127.
|Elmer Graves, 90-year old owner of the Old Trails
I was a bit surprised by the notes, emails, and phone calls received after publication of the article for the Kingman Daily Miner about the European Route 66 Festival. I know that there is an online edition but still, this is a small town newspaper.
Apparently the paper took note of the international interest generated by the article as well since there is now an ongoing discussion about the possibility of me writing a weekly column on Kingman, Route 66 related developments, Route 66 related economic development, interesting people in Kingman (such as Elmer Graves and his 82 year association with the Old Trails Garage) or people that stop during their travels. The editor, however, has reservations about the possible readership for such a column and the subsequent advertising revenue that would be generated. Here is an opportunity to put in your two scents worth. Kingman Daily Miner – (928)753-6397, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every month the Route 66 Association of Kingman, in conjunction with a member business hosts an open house. This open to the general pubic event is a great opportunity for networking, meeting area business owners as well as community leaders, and for meeting some of the folks who travel Route 66.
This month the meet and greet will take place at 6:00 P.M. on the 26th of September at Rutherford’s 66 Family Diner, 2011 E. Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) in Kingman. The association has informed me that Wolfgang Werz of the German Route 66 Association is planning on attendance.
To wrap this up, please, take a few moments to reflect on the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the divisions that plague us today. Then give some thought as to what you can do to bridge rifts.
VINTAGE NEON, A MARVELOUS MECHANICAL MENAGERIE, GOOD FOOD, GOOD FRIENDS, AND THE PASSING OF THE GUARD
Legacy Signs, a company that recently relocated their facilities to the historic business district, has the equipment needed for neon sign restoration or construction. Long term plans for the facility located along Route 66, is the installation of a neon gallery of smaller custom signs that will be for sale.
Dunton Motors next to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, then the Kimo Cafe, opened in 1946 as a full line Ford dealership. Later, with Roy as the owner, it became an Edsel dealership, and latter a GM facility.
I should also note that the “D” in Mr. D’z was none other than Roy Dunton.
I offer sincere condolences to the Dunton family. For me Roy’s passing was the loss of a mentor, and a bit of a wake up call. Rest assured I will be talking with Elmer Graves quite soon, and recording tales of the double six.
A short time ago I attended the Hot August Nights event at the bowling alley in Kingman and was remiss in posting a few of the highlights.
One of the many things that fascinate me in this town is the diversity of vehicles that turn out for events such as this, for Chillin’ on Beale, the Route 66 Fun Run, or Best of the West on 66. These events are always a marvelous mechanical menagerie. As an example, at this particular event there were extreme rat rods, home made 4×4 contraptions, classics restored and unrestored, muscle cars, and some downright amazing sights.
I just noticed the time and need to wrap this up. So, let’s talk good friends and good food for just a moment.
Zdnek Jurasek of the Czech Route 66 Association is closing in on the halfway point during his solo bicycle ride on Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. To close out the Arizona crossing, he will be staying at Grand canyon Caverns and Ramda Kingman before tackling Sitgreaves Pass, and his first California stop at Fenders Resort in Needles. A request has been made that bicyclists join him along the way, even if it is for just a few blocks.
Dries Bessels and Henk Kuperus are also on the road with a tour group from the Netherlands. If you happen to see them, show a bit of hospitality and meet some very friendly folks.
Now, a quick note on good food. This afternoon I had lunch with Ed Klein of Route 66 World at Rutherford’s. As always the food was excellent (Greek salad).
Best of the West on 66 Festival, scheduled for the weekend of the 23rd, is shaping up to be a bit of a roadie get together in Kingman. Dries and Marion Bessels, grand marshals for the parade, and Mike and Sharon Ward will be in town. Who wants to get together for a dinner or breakfast? I am thinking Calico’s.