I spent this past weekend in and around Williams, Arizona, taking myself down memory lane. As my husband and I spent Saturday evening walking along the main street in Williams which is US 66. If you are old enough to remember anything earlier than 1964, you probably remember the television show and where you get your kicks.
Sixty-one years ago, my family set out on a grand adventure in the family car, a robin’s egg blue and white 1954 Chevy. I was five years old. Although I do not remember leaving on the big trip, I do know that we were living in Fort Smith, Arkansas at the time. The trip was more of a fact-finding mission instead of a vacation, as daddy had been offered a job in California. My parents wanted to see the country and decide if they wanted to live in the Golden State.
My parents made the trip fun, and we took the time to see the sights. I do remember seeing the Grand Canyon, Indians (back in the days when we didn’t need to say Native Americans) in Teepees selling Indian jewelry, and a big hole in the ground which daddy explained had been made by a meteor falling from the sky. I remember the Petrified forest with no trees, just big rocks lying around. I believe somewhere in a box I still have a small piece of petrified wood that my brother picked up. I hope the statue of limitations has passed on that incident.
I don’t remember much about California other than daddy’s friend said not to waste the money going to Disneyland. It had just opened, and the friend said Knoxberry Farms was much nicer.
Yes, we rode the train, and it was robbed! The desperados took my brother’s watch! His watch was returned to the depot. We also rode the stage coach. This Annie Oakley wannabe was having the time of her life.
To be honest, I don’t remember if we saw the sights on our way to California or on our way back East. I do know we only stayed three days before my daddy had enough of the traffic, stating he wouldn’t want to live in a such a crowded place.
As we walked along Route 66 Saturday evening, looking at the souvenirs in the little shops, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the generations that followed me. The interstate systems replaced the old roads leaving only small pieces of the great American highway. The roadway that helped form this country and carried many dreams. Those people will never now the excitement of finding a roadside park to eat lunch and stretch your legs. The fun of reading Burma Shave signs. Passing the time and the miles reading license plates. No not personalized plates but seeing where the car was licensed.
The roads were narrow, and travel was slower. People actually took the time to stop, look at things and places. There was no speeding along at eighty miles per hour back then. There were no cell phones, no GPS and certainly no electronic devices to keep us kids entertained. Just miles and miles of looking out the window and wondering if we were there yet.
Yes, I did get my kicks on Route 66 this past Saturday, with beautiful memories of a great childhood, and a trip never to be forgotten.