Although I visited with 15 people at Afton Station today, it was still rather slow. That's because twelve of the folks all came in together in the morning -- two families, four adults and eight children. They were from Wichita, KS and on Spring Break. The kids were cute and impeccably polite and well-behaved. Two of the little girls were very interested in the old school desk and asked to sit at it. But of course! Photo op!Other kids loved the stickers, and they ended up buying quite a few. They also made pressed pennies for all.
Three people from Emporia, KS came in shortly thereafter, and that was all for the day. That left lots of time for me to stew over a few matters, which I'll burden you with below. When Marly arrived at 2 p.m. and warned me of some bad weather coming, I left early and headed for home. The wind was so strong it kept trying to blow my little Subaru off the road, and yet by the time I arrived in Tulsa, the wind had died and the sun was out. Go figure!
SPRING RANTING SEASON
A) Long before I tied myself down with Afton Station and dialysis treatments, an idea was forming in my mind and taking hold rapidly and with fervor. I was going to travel Route 66 and ferret out all undiscovered gems of the road, and then write a guidebook that featured just those people and places. It would either spread more widely the word "icon" as it relates to the Mother Road or do away with it altogether. This was even before I lived on '66 or had a business on it. Just from my travels on Route 66 and reading books and magazines about it, I was clearly feeling that the "icon" designation had been overused in three ways: to describe a long-running business, to describe a colorful person, and to describe an eye-catching neon sign.
My philosophy has always been that there are hundreds -- no, thousands -- of people and places along Route 66 that are undiscovered or unheralded, so they don't fit into one of those "iconic" categories. There are businesses that are owned by diehard, super-committed Route 66 activists that are failing because travelers aren't aware of them and they will continue to fail until they are unearthed and spotlighted. If you feel that "icon" is a title that must be earned, I agree with you. So, let's give others a chance to earn it. The Top 20 persons, places, and things on Route 66 have definitely earned their accolades. All well and good. I adore these people and things, too. But folks, there are others that need to be given the chance to shine, so let's give them that chance by finding them, visiting them, and telling others about them. Visit places you don't find in the guidebooks now and then. I'll bet you'd be surprised and delighted by what you find.
B) Speed is the enemy of Route 66. It kills people -- we know that -- but it also kills much more than that. On a personal level I'm sure Afton Station is overlooked by many travelers as they race through town at 50 mph (in a 35 mph speed zone). They travel without guidebooks (their first mistake) and a little town like Afton can seem like no more than a wide place in the road if you're whizzing past looking straight ahead. I often joke that nothing short of a roadblock, or throwing myself in the path of a speeding vehicle, will get some people to stop. On the other hand, those who proceed slowly, with or without guidance, are far more likely to to notice our nicely restored and architecturally interesting building and others all up and down Route 66.
C) Destruction -- Don't build a new building if you can restore an old one instead. Just don't. Don't tear down an old building until you're sure it is beyond repair. There are so many out there that need saving.
Ok, I'm done. Sorry 'bout that. It's what goes through my mind when I have too much time on my hands.