As I live in Kingman, Arizona, and have a bit of a reputation in the
Courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts
international Route 66 community, the recent Sacha Baron Cohen attempt at comedy has been the subject of countless emails, text messages, and Facebook messages. I didn’t watch the program, and didn’t even listen to more than a few random minutes of the video. I didn’t need to. It was obvious that he merely supplied the rope, and then let his victims hang themselves.
I am not sure what I found more disgusting, the displays of blatant prejudice from my adopted hometown, or the fact that in America today a man can profit from inciting lynch mobs, yelling fire in a crowded theater, and selling used cars at the scene of a bloody accident by labeling it “comedy” or “entertainment.” There is so much good and positive in Kingman, including a large segment of the population, but once again the town has been given a black eye that will take a long time to heal. After all, we are still remembered as a town where Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh found a nest of like minded people and even a partner in crime. (more…)
You would have to drive from Death Valley to Loveland Pass in
Colorado to find lows and highs equal to what we have been through in the past week or so. To paraphrase (or plagiarize) a bit of classic literature, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times: dedication of a memorial to a valued friend and a bit of bittersweet family time with my dearest friend and son, the debut of a new book and unexpected support from friends, squandered opportunities and unnecessary battles, taxes and hard choices, memories and reflections.
An emotional ceremony, the unveiling of the Twin Arrows Trading Post model created by Willem Bor at Antares Point Route 66 Visitor Center. Photo Sam Fiorella.
On Sunday, with artist Gregg Arnold, the model of Twin Arrows Trading Post created by Willem Bor was unveiled at Antares Point Route 66 Visitor Center east of Kingman. The stand, created by Arnold, and the setting were poignant and moving for a number of reasons.
Even though our association with Willem, and his wife Monique, was quite short, we enjoyed memorable milestones in life with these friends. As we pulled the cover from the display, I flashed on our first evening in Europe, and a delightful dinner in Willem and Monique’s home where the artists handiwork was on full display. Thoughts turned to last summer in Germany when a contingent of Dutch friends, including Willem and Monique, enjoyed dinner, laughter, and lively conversation. Clouding these delightful memories was the death of Willem earlier this year. (more…)
Every community is plagued by self serving factions, apathy, naysayers, and
people who simply never learned to play well with others. In communities where these people dominate government or the tourism office or media or civic organizations, opportunities are missed, long term sustainable progress is stifled, and vision for the future is conceived through extensive study of the rear view mirror. Spend an hour or two in a town, city, or village where these type of folks run the show, listen to the locals in the restaurants or taverns, check out the historic business district, cruise a few neighborhoods, peruse online reviews of businesses and there is a very good chance you won’t make a return visit.
So, exactly, how is a community transformed from a haven for the apathetic and people obsessed with protecting their fiefdom into a vibrant place where people want to visit, to open businesses, to raise families, and to retire? Let me introduce you to the speed bump theory of community development. (more…)
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.
In 2014, the city of Kingman hosted the International Route 66 Festival. The theme was
Kingman: Crossroads of the Past & Future. The opening of the world’s first electric vehicle museum, a partnership between the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation and Kingman tourism at this event marked the beginning of a new era on Route 66, and in Kingman. Well, with the ever increasing acquisition and donation of vehicles, including an ultra rare electric 1998 Chevrolet S10 pick up truck, the museum has outgrown its current location in the Powerhouse Visitor Center and has more vehicles in storage than are on display.
In partnership with Promote Kingman, a fund raising initiative that includes solicitation of sponsors and partners will be launched in 2017 to rectify this problem. The goal is to raise adequate funds for establishment and creation of a dedicated museum that will chronicle the fascinating evolution of the electric vehicle, as well as related infrastructure. (more…)