(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
Hi, and welcome to the “John Wayne Room” of the Canyon Lodge Motel in Seligman, Arizona, “Birthplace of Route 66,” the “Mother Road” of America. Seligman (population 456) is representative of the many small towns that dot this portion of the Southwest along what used to be the only main thoroughfare between Chicago and Los Angeles. “Get your kicks on route 66.”
If it weren’t for the movie “Cars,” which chronicles the existence and importance of these towns that capture an era of popular culture forgotten by the Interstates that have passed them by, younger generations would never have known about this stuff. I drive through a town like this and find it full of memories (our family used to take an annual trip every August along route 66 from Los Angeles to Texas when it was the only way you could travel between those two places by car). Chandler sees a curious piece of pop history he can’t fully understand but appreciate nonetheless.
Arizona boasts the longest unbroken stretch of Route 66, and if you want to truly experience it, you can obtain a passport from the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, “a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, protection, and promotion of both the surface, and the memories along Arizona’s portion of Route 66.” Like a Route 66 treasure hunt, the passport directs you to seven places along the original highway where you can obtain an official stamp to put in your passport and prove you were there.
Time has a way of burying important memories and milestones. This town, and a number of others like it crammed with souvenirs, old cars, vintage gas pumps, and retired road signs, is trying to make sure we don’t forget. These things are treasures to some and junk to others, depending on whether you have any memories to attach them to. But if you take the time to care about it, even if you have none of those memories, you can still appreciate those who do — an excellent illustration, by the way, of how we can learn to appreciate each other.