Our lives along Route 66 are enriched by the many travelers we see and the opportunities they give us to learn about other areas. Many of those travelers are interested in the history of Route 66 and are eager to talk about what life was like during the growth and development of that great road.
A few years ago, the owners of the Blue Swallow invited me to speak to a group of bicycle riders who were traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles. During the dinner, I was seated beside Eleonore Turner from Toronto, Canada. We had a most pleasant visit, and for some reason, she decided to remain in touch. We have exchanged several letters during the years, and she has made several generous donations to Tucumcari Historical Museum.
Recently, she wrote a note to say she and her husband would be coming through town last week and invited me to join them for coffee at KIX. They arrived last Tuesday, and we had a good visit about their travels and about some of our history. Although they often travel by bicycle, they had them in their vehicle for recreational riding only. Their major destination had been the Grand Canyon, and they had really enjoyed seeing that “big ditch.” They had also seen a lot of territory as they traveled and were planning to see even more as they left here.
Eleonore amazed me by recalling several things I had talked about in that speech of so long ago. She said she was fascinated by my emphasis on the importance of place to many of us. She indicated that I had caused her to do a little
thinking about that subject. She and Franz then commented on the vastness of our vistas. As many travelers mention, they said that the space was almost frightening to them as they traveled along our highways. Being closed in by cities and by trees and mountains caused them to be much more aware of our wide-open spaces than we are. Of course, we get almost claustrophobic when we are in those cities or among those trees.
Obviously, those two travelers enjoy exploring and will enjoy it even more now that they are both retired. I have a feeling we are apt to meet again as they pass this way on other expeditions. Because of their interest in our depot, they are apt to return to check on the progress as it becomes another slice of our heritage.
Yes, we have watched the growth and decline of both Route 66 and the railroad. We remain interested in that part of our history and are eager to share it with travelers who are also interested in learning about our area. Let’s take the time to share that history and to make new friends as we greet the travelers.