Thursday, October 29, 2009

Open for Business

I started the day with a trip to the airport with Ron M., who was leaving for a 2 1/2 week trip to Florida and the Caribbean. Sounds wonderful, but I just can't tear myself away from this grungy old gas station. I know he'll have a great time, and I wish him well.

Upon arrival in Afton, I discovered an 18-wheeler with a flat tire parked where it was completely blocking the Station. It would have upset me except for three things: 1) I try not to sweat the small stuff, 2) clearly, there was a problem, and 3) the truck driver was SO nice. I ended up inviting him in to wait for the tire fixer to arrive from about 20 miles away and we had a nice chat. He was delivering chickens (frozen) to Hannibal, MO. It's amazing how fast they can change a tire on one of those behemoths.

I then had a phone chat with a guy from the big Mother Road Rally who wants to bring about 100 motorcycles to Afton Station next June 14th. This is a well-known international group of bikers, and I'm thrilled to be included on their itinerary.

As I sit here now, I've had no visitors other than the trucker, and the sky continues to get blacker and blacker as the morning wears on. We're expecting large storms this afternoon, so I'll probably be very lonely today.

Well, the "storm" came and went, in the form of some sprinkles and a few refreshing downpours. Nothing serious. It remained gloomy, however. Nothing boosts my spirits on a day like this than a visit from two very Route 66-savvy travelers in a spiffy late model red Corvette. It was raining when they pulled up, but they weren't letting it spoil their trek to Needles, CA and beyond. He's a long-time Route 66 roadie and she's just learning the ropes. They own a small mom 'n pop motel in Gravois Mills, MO so I sent them off to make the acquaintance of my friends Frank and Trudy who own the Chelsea Motel down the road about 30 miles. I know they'll appreciate one another.

Two guys from Miami came in to ask some questions about Big Ugly, our new metal building, but then they stuck around for quite a while admiring the cars and asking tons of questions about the Station.

My final visitor was a young man from Tulsa, recently graduated from law school, who was up in NE Oklahoma on a job interview. He took me by surprise when he walked through the door in a dark suit and tie. I rarely see anything other than t-shirts at the Station! He was a great guy who is just forming an interest in Route 66. I hope he gets the job!

During my down time today, I fiddled with a poem -- a rather gloomy, mawkish amateurish one -- but I'm going to stick you with it anyway.

I've heard stories about the time when this town had a life.
I've seen pictures of crowds on dusty streets
And heard tales of real gun fights and serious stand-offs
Right here where I sit.
I know they used to toss turkeys off the roof of the town hall
Just for fun.
Unless that's just a legend.
There was a skating rink
Where people met and married,
And a movie theater called The Ritz
(Although anything in this town called The Ritz
seems the worst possible oxymoron).
A couple of department stores,
A busy railroad station and the rail yard that served it.
Harry Truman's campaign train stopped here.
Buddy Holly slept here.
And there was Route 66.
It went away and took the town with it
Eight restaurants, eight motels
More filling stations than I could count
In old phone books.
And parades
With clowns
And marching bands.
All gone.

Photo of a photo. Photographer friend Michael Scruggs took this photo then took some artistic license with it and presented it to me. It's now displayed at the Station.


Ken Riches said...

A historical poem, I like it :o)

Cathy said...

Now that's prose, it rings with the honesty of someone who's lived it. How true, these old roadways took their towns with them when they were destroyed for superhighways. Rte 66 still lives in my best memories.