Wednesday, February 28, 2024

If You Ever Plan to Motor West....



DUKES FANS:         

“Get your kicks, on Route 66”... Bobby Troup  

   I have always been fascinated by travel and things beyond my immediate surroundings. Growing up I read encyclopedias and focused on history, other times, and other places. Mom subscribed to Life magazine and Reader’s Digest, and they also fed my curiosity about different places. And there was, of course, National Geographic Magazine, which brought the whole world to my door. I still have vivid memories of photographs from that magazine. I have yet to get to Greece, but I really want to all because of a stunning photograph of a sheer white cliff I saw in the Geographic when I was about 12. That picture has stayed with me for over 5 decades  

   In the 1960’s there were a number of TV shows that featured travel and being on the road: The Fugitive, Run For Your Life, and Route 66. I watched them and loved Route 66 especially, because I loved that song. When I was starting to play in bands in the 1970’s almost every band had a version of Route 66. It was not a question; you did that song! 

   Last week I was doing the “post-dinner, what’s on WHYY?” thing I sometimes do, and I stumbled on a show about traveling Route 66 with TV travel reporter Samantha Brown. The wonderful thing about this show was that it focused on Route 66 from its start in Illinois. I had not thought of that: the, “It winds from St Louis to Joplin, Missouri” part and places beyond that in the song had always captured my attention. So it was good to see what the route had been for many small towns and villages in Illinois and how so many them are trying to hold on to some of the places and things that made the route special even as the rise of interstates lessened the importance of the road.  

    Samantha meets and talks with people, and that is the joy of this episode for me. We meet John White, diner owner and author of a guidebook to Route 66; the warden of Joliet prison at the time of the filming of The Blues Brothers; the owner of a museum dedicated to Pontiac automobiles; people in a town called Normal, IL, the director of the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library, and much more. I was a joyous and celebratory show, and I was so glad I stumbled upon it. I will check out more of her shows over the next few weeks.  

   One of the things I have loved about my life is that while I have never been off the North American continent, I have had hundreds of experiences and met thousands of people in different towns, states, provinces, and cities. Samantha’s show reminded me of the joys of that process and how, if we are open to the possibility of surprise, we never stop learning and growing. I wish each of you safe and happy travels.  
Route 66 Through Illinois:   

Samantha Brown Site;   

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