Do you know what happens in Texas? BIG things! Especially on Route 66! It doesn’t matter if it’s a small town, like Shamrock, population: 2000, give or take. That’s what we learned in July of 2018 during the Texas Welcomes the World Festival.
The festival was about Texas, Shamrock, and of course, Route 66; what’s not to love? There was food, fun, festivities, friendships, and family. Many people worked very hard to make this small town event a huge success. I HAVE to thank a very special lady, Dora Meroney. I know lots of folks made that event happen, but Dora deserves a medal! If you don’t know Dora, stop by Texas Ivy Antiques on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas and meet her. I’m certain you’ll love her as much as the rest of us Route 66 Roadies do!
Richard and I with Dora Meroney
You may wonder, what was so special about the Texas Welcomes the World Festival? Well, lots of things actually. We spent our nights at the Route 66 Inn; it was very clean, roomy, comfortable, and quiet. Outside, they had a gazebo of sorts, so every night, friends came over for fellowship and fun-we really enjoy our Route 66 family reunions! One evening, I was walking along Route 66 taking photos and was approached by a gentleman who introduced himself as Tye. He told me he sang and played guitar at Vern’s Steakhouse, adding he had painted many of the murals around town. (Be sure to check out the murals all around Shamrock-they’re cool!) I invited Tye to come hang out with us that evening. Soon, he joined our reunion outside, even bringing his guitar! (and beer) He sang for us while playing his guitar-it was a pretty nice treat.
“Gazebo” outside the Route 66 Inn
Murals by TYE
When people think of Shamrock, Texas, they often think about the majestic U Drop Inn, with its glorious neon illuminating the evening sky. I had been really looking forward to photographing it and apparently, so did everyone else. The stunningly beautiful neon did not disappoint! My Dad and I walked up there one evening to photograph it. Our opportunity to photograph the U Drop Inn without someone getting in the photo was almost impossible. I vowed to return during a future Route 66 adventure and photograph it.
U Drop Inn
The days were hot and of course they would be: it was July in Texas. During the day, other small businesses like mine set up our wares in a large community center (did I mention it was air conditioned?) located off Route 66. Although I had tables set up, I wandered off a few times to meet people, look as the wares of others, and I even snuck outside to see a few of the cars participating in the car show. I heard there were even long horns (cattle) nearby, but I didn’t get to see them.
A couple of the cool cars at the festival
Saturday night was a real treat when our beloved Route 66 Band, The Road Crew, performed at the community center. What a GREAT time had by all! I am 100% certain the band made several new fans that night. This amazing festival ended Sunday morning. We all met at the community center for a delicious catered breakfast. Saying goodbye to our Route 66 family is always hard. What should take 5 minutes usually ends up being 30 minutes. But that’s ok, it’s really, “Until next time…”
The Road Crew
In November of 2016, Richard and I headed west for a 2 week Route 66 adventure. Route 66 turned 90 years old last year! We planned to meet up with several of our Route 66 friends and all stay at the Saga Motor Hotel in Pasadena, California. (It’s on Route 66) The only thing better than a Route 66 trip, is one with a gathering of Route 66 friends, also referred to as “Route 66 Roadies.” As I prepared to write this blog, I wanted to talk about EVERYTHING we experienced; great food, amazing neon signs, cool mom & pop motels and restaurants, all the awesome sights…I could go on and on. My plan was to end this blog by telling you about the one thing that touched our hearts so much, it was the highlight of the trip! When reality hit me, I realized I could not even begin to write about a 2 week Route 66 trip in one blog. So, here is the story about the highlight of our trip that I want to share with you.
I’ve mentioned before, Route 66 is fun, beautiful, unique, and so much more, but you HAVE to meet the people. There’s the small business owners, the artists, the authors, and of course, fellow Route 66 lovers. I have a special place in my heart for the people of Route 66, past and present. But there was a certain special someone I had not met yet, even though Richard and I had made several attempts in the past to meet this person. Deep down, I was worried our attempt this trip would meet with failure again. The western portion of Route 66 is so far away from our home in the birthplace of Route 66, Springfield, Missouri, it would likely be a long time before we could travel that way again.
As we were heading to California, we stopped at one of my favorite little Route 66 towns, Seligman, Arizona. There, we ate a ‘killer’ dinner at the Roadkill Café, followed by a nice overnight stay at the Supai Motel. The next morning, we would have loved to have traveled down the street to Westside Lilo’s Café, where we’ve eaten superb breakfasts before, but we had an important destination… we wanted to meet an Angel!
Down the street, Richard and I went. We stopped outside a small store, a gift shop, as most people call it. It was too early for the store to be open, but, as my excitement grew, this was going to be worth the wait, I just knew it! Soon, we saw a familiar truck drive up and park near the front of the store. It was not who we were searching for, but he was certainly a super nice gentleman! Mauricio Perez introduced himself and opened the store. He invited us inside to warm up, adding he would make some coffee. After a bit, Richard said, “There he is! He just rode up on his bicycle!” Why was I feeling giddy? I’m not a “groupie” kind of person! The front door opened, and in walked Angel, The Angel of Route 66, Angel Delgadillo.
Angel entered his store and saw us. As soon as he did, he smiled and asked us how we were. Richard then asked Angel how he was. He gave an answer I had never heard before. Angel said, “Happy. I’m happy!” He was still smiling and as I was standing beside him, I could honestly feel it- he was happy! Angel spoke with us for quite awhile. He told us about his childhood and growing up in Seligman. Angel said there used to be so much daily traffic passing through Seligman, it was difficult to cross the street. He said, suddenly, all the traffic went away when the nearby interstate was built. Angel told us other Route 66 towns in Arizona suffered similar losses due to the interstate being built, bypassing their once bustling towns. In the late 1980’s, Angel traveled the Route and met with people from other Route 66 towns in Arizona. They rallied together to bring people back to their Route 66 towns and to show people a slower, more enjoyable, pace of travel. The Route 66 Association of Arizona was created; Angel was named as the first president. Angel, and some of the other Seligman residents, worked hard to bring their beloved Route 66 town back to life. A humble man, Angel never once bragged about his accomplishments, but there are many. Later, we will be able to read and see more about Angel’s hard work to bring Route 66 back to life; he is giving his archives to Northern Arizona University.
Angel will be 90 this year and he rides his bicycle to work, yes, work! Angel is a barber, although not full time. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get a hair cut from him. But for Richard and I, meeting the aptly named Angel will be a memory forever cherished! (And we LOVE this photo!!)