In case you missed it, Angel Delgadillo recently celebrated his
90th birthday. If you don’t know about Angel, or have never met this amazing and inspirational man, it would be safe to assume that you’re not a Route 66 enthusiast – yet.
The irrepressible Angel Delgadillo. Photo by Judy Hinckley
I am not exactly sure when it happened but at some point in time a highway transformed into an icon, an almost magical place that has come to symbolize the ultimate authentic experience for legions of passionate enthusiasts. That is one reason why I often refer to Route 66 as a living, breathing time capsule, but that isn’t really a very accurate descriptor as only the very best has been preserved. That is manifest in the people that give Route 66 an infectious vibrancy. (more…)
In the 1940’s, W.A. “Tex” Thornton was a living legend, an almost
mythical figure whose exploits in the oil fields of Texas and Oklahoma made him seem larger than life. During the 1920’s he had perfected the use of nitroglycerin and dynamite to extinguish oil field fires, and in the era of the Great Depression, developed a steady rainmaking business using balloons, timed charges, and explosives.
The Park Plaza Motel on Route 66 in Amarillo was the scene of a murder that became a media sensation. Courtesy the Joe Sonderman collection.
I am unsure as to how this past week can adequately be described. Exciting?
Frustrating? Maddening? Depressing? Exhilarating? Exhausting? Enjoyable? Fun? Thrilling? Productive? Perhaps I could better set the stage for today’s post by simply saying that it has been a combination of all of the above.
The release of a heavily revised second edition of a book on ghost towns was released this month. In addition, Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town was released on April 1, and this past week I completed the final edit for a book that is scheduled to be released in September. Needless to say, this is a cause for celebration, reflection, and the taking of a very deep breath. It was time for a shot of cognac.
The publication of a new book is also a cause of concern as this means that the schedule for promotion is about to become a towering tsunami. This time, however, it will be magnified by three. That is already starting. Last week I had an interview with Rudy Maxa, and yesterday with Keri Jones of the British based Great Destination Radio Show. With the publication of each new book I give thought to taking the writing game to the next level which means seeking an agent. Candacy Taylor and Brennen Mathews, two esteemed colleagues, are providing insight, direction, and gentle encouragement to begin that quest.
With the books completed, and the deadline for the next one still twelve months away, I will be turning my attention toward other projects such as the podcast, the Friday morning Facebook live program, development of the walking tours, providing assistance to the Promote Kingman initiative, and, hopefully, getting the truck back on the road and working on the endless construction project, a place that we call home. And I plan on getting distracted as often as possible with opportunities to visit with friends, to travel with my dearest friend, and to meet with interesting people.
A few days ago the model of Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner created by the late Willem Bor was unpacked at Dunton Motors next door to the restaurant. This 1946 dealership is also home to the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona. After receiving the model, Scott Dunton, president of the association decided to display the model at the office and is having a custom glass display case created. I was quite honored to have been entrusted with the model and ensuring that it was properly display.
There was a great deal of sadness involved with the opening of the packing crate. The first dinner my dearest friend and I ever ate in Europe was in the home of Willem and Monique Bor. Their names adorn a pillow presented to us on behalf of the Dutch Route 66 Association during a reception at de Prael in Amsterdam during that trip. Last summer at the first European Route 66 Festival, Willem informed us that he had cancer, and through friends in the Dutch Route 66 Association, we followed the progressive decline. Willem was a part of our Route 66 family.
Even though the model will be shared with the world at the location selected, there was also a degree of sadness about this. I had hoped that this one as well as the model of the Twin Arrows Trading Post would be exhibited at the Powerhouse Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum in Kingman as part of a display that honored our friends from the Netherlands as well as highlighted the international nature of the Route 66 community. As with the stillborn Route 66 walk of fame, I find the overall lack of enthusiasm about Route 66 just a bit tragic.
At the grassroots level, however, there is a rather dramatic awakening. It is made evident in the Promote Kingman initiative, beautification projects that include neon sign restoration facilitated by the Route 66 Association of Kingman, the vibrancy of the Beale Street corridor in the historic business district made manifest in new stores and new construction. And it is made evident in the effort to welcome guests such as Toshi Goto to the community.
Saturday was a high point in the week. My dearest friend and I joined Toshi Goto, a friend and founding member of the Japanese Route 66 Association, and his charming wife Yoko, for a little trip to Ash Fork and a visit with Kirk at Zettler’s Route 66 Store. Even though we missed Angel Delgadillo (we had hoped to be able to wish him an early 90th birthday), we enjoyed a delightful lunch at Lulu Belle’s in Ash Fork, had a great visit with Kirk, and a wonderful dinner in Kingman at Calico’s hosted by the Route 66 Association of Kingman and the Promote Kingman initiative. We rounded out the evening by checking out the cars at Chillin’ on Beale, and savoring a fresh made ginger ale at Black Bridge Brewery.
This morning I had an interesting meeting with Steve LeSueur, the developer of the Promote Kingman initiative. In the near future we will be expanding our limited partnership. In addition to the video series, Jim Hinckley’s America: A Trek Along Route 66, the schedule for illustrated walking tours in the historic district that utilize historic images provided by the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, with me as the guide, will be expanded and custom tours will also be offered. Additionally, they will be selling signed copies of my books. If you are interested in a walking tour check out the calendar of events on the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page, or contact Promote Kingman.
Association with the Promote Kingman initiative has been an interesting endeavor. With a myopic focus on the development of grass root projects that foster development of a sense of community, and magnifying the marketing of businesses or events through partnership programs and project sponsorship opportunities, this pioneering initiative has contributed to an array of interesting developments.
Unfortunately there are still a few factions that seem intent on burning the house down rather than assist with the cooking. In one local newspaper inflammatory editorials and articles filled with carefully words and partial truths are still standard fare. Tragically there are those in the community that will believe an editorial about secret meetings and good old boy networks, and never know that the editor had been invited to the meetings.
In a nutshell, it has been a rather interesting week. It was better than some, not as good as others. It was the type of week that leaves you looking toward the future with eager anticipation, and a touch of apprehension. To paraphrase an old book, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I have always been drawn to colorful characters, the mildly
eccentric, the people who march to the tune of a different drummer. To be honest, this affinity can be summed with the old analogy about birds of feather flocking together. For about as long as can be remembered I have been viewed as an eccentric, an independent thinker, a colorful character. I don’t see this as a bad thing. In fact, it could be said that I have made it a career of sorts.
Yesterday during a Promote Kingman walking tour through the historic district, as I shared stories about area history accented with photos from the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, my thoughts turned toward colorful characters of the past, the ones that have crossed my path over the years, and the character that I have become. It was hard not to, after all I did mention Harry Nipple (1876 – 1961), the source of countless jokes made by teenage boys in Kingman. (more…)