Monday, February 16, 2009

Surviving on Route 66

Driving past an abandoned diner is like visiting the local SPCA--the urge to rescue is powerful.

Such was our reaction to seeing the (closed) Highway Diner in Winslow (AZ). Manufactured by Valentine Diner Company in Wichita, Kansas, the Highway has undergone a few name changes since its arrival in 1947. This 9-stool diner has been called Monday's Cafe and Irene's in earlier lives. It sits on an ideal location--on historic Route 66 across from the historic La Posada Hotel, . . . and with a little red paint, . . . a little white paint, . . . and maybe some new awnings. Voila! Great Kate's Diner is born.

Back to reality. Winslow is a railroad town. There is Amtrak passenger service between Chicago and Los Angeles--one train heading east and one west every day--and many BNSF freight trains every day. The mural seems to pay tribute to railroads, especially the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which is the product of some 390 different railroad lines that merged or were acquired during more than 150 years.

Like many towns along Route 66--and almost all routes for that matter--the steady stream of cars now moves along the interstate highways with little time to appreciate the country and its people.

The local coffee shop with its slower pace is still the place to check with others on the day's news, but the faster pace of life is in the mall on the edge of town.

Our hope is that the artists and preservationists are successful in reminding residents of the history and character of Winslow--and the many other Winslows across the country.

Located at the Police & Court Complex, Jerry Peart's concrete, aluminum and steel sculpture Falling Meteor II brings a modern artistic touch to the downtown.

But all the time we're walking down the street and passing the souvenir shops, running through my mind are the words:"Well, I'm a standin' on a corner in Winslow Arizona. And such a fine sight to see."

And then, I see an image in the store window across the street. "It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me."

OK, you knew I would have to get to this reference as soon as you learned we were staying near Winslow, AZ, but did you think it would take me a week to work the Eagles "Take it Easy" into the blog?

And OK, the girl in the flatbed Ford is painted on a wall in the "Standin' on the Corner Park."

And the wall is literally only a wall with the mural on it. We hope the wall--and the diner--survive.

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