My pa was full of million dollar quips that he wove into a rich and colorful tapestry that illustrated how to live life with a proper perspective. But Brad, a weathered old cowhand that I worked with on the Sierra Mesa spread along the Mimbres River in New Mexico, was a master weaver. Providing that background makes it easier to explain the title for today’s post.
Since at least 1959 (yes, I AM THAT old), Route 66 has figured prominently in my life. We made our first trip west from Virginia in the summer of ’59. We moved from Michigan to Arizona in the summer of ’66, and it was there that I learned to ride a bicycle and drive a truck on an old alignment of Route 66. Years later, during the John Wayne period that I never outgrew, I drove Route 66 rather than the interstate highway, and haunted faded old cafes, truck stops and down at the heels motels with neon signs that no longer served as beacons for weary travelers.
But, to be honest, until about 15 years ago for me the old double six was just a highway. It was like an old friend. It was, and is, where I felt comfortable. Besides, when you drive a ’46 GMC, or ’50 Chevy truck on purpose, and 45 miles per hour is top speed, the interstate highway isn’t a viable option.
Not once in all those years of cruising along that weathered, cracked and broken old asphalt, Not once when I was sippinig coffee and eating a steak in the Cattleman’s Cafe in Truxton, Arizona did I imagine that this storied old highway would one day take me from Arizona to Germany. And I never once pictured myself as a personality. I could in my minds eye see myself as an old timer that was a belnding of Slim Pickens and Walter Brennan but never as a celebrity.
And so, since it was announced last year that Kingman Main Street would be commissioning internationally acclaimed scupturer J. Anne Butler to create a life sized bronze statue of me as a public arts project there has been a great deal of reflection. Now the big event, the unveiling is just a few weeks away. On May 27 this will be a part of the National Road Trip Day proclamation festivities in Kingman, Arizona.
To be honest, I am not sure how to respond or what to say at the dedication. The staute is actually mute testimony to nearly forty years of support and encouragement from my dearest friend.
In my minds eye I am just Jim Hinckley from Podunk, Arizona. I am just a storyteller that has survived a whole lot of stupid, met a bunch of fascinating and inspirational characters over the years, and weathered some pretty wild storms.
I am honored. And I am humbled. But I am also a bit embarrassed. It all seems just a tad bit surreal. There is a distinct sense of unreality about the whole thing.
Life is sure full of twists, turns, and unexpected surprises. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are grand adventures. Some are painful. But all are memorable. This one is going to be tought to top. Still, there is a good chance that I have another twenty or thrity years before the last trail ride. And as I have learned over the years, a whole lot of surprises and adventures can be squeezed into that amount of time.