Oct 292012

The Winslow Centennial’s Second Saturdays ended Oct. 13 with a program full of “kicks.” Dona Harris and Bunny Nimtz, with the help of Nicole Krug and Elaine Larsen, presented a very personal view of Route 66 as it went through Winslow and on west to Winona. It tied our yearlong celebration of Winslow’s history together, bringing it from the past to the present.
Opening the program was Sharlene Fouser, the executive director of the Arizona Route 66 Association. Noting that Arizona has many miles of Route 66 highway remaining between its borders and the enthusiasm of Angel Delgadillo, a group of citizens from all the towns along the way formed this group to promote and preserve its history. She introduced the passport to the audience, leaving copies, which were picked up by them and promptly stamped by Bob Hall. Passports are available all along Route 66, and are a great family and friend activity. Just check by your friendly chamber office. Fouser noted that she had just issued certificates for several hundred completed passports, with all going to citizens outside of the U.S. The Netherlands has the largest Route 66 fan club in the world.
As an aside, Loy Engelhardt mentioned that many years ago Gov. Fife Symington honored Pete Kretsedemas with an honorary title of Ambassador of Route 66 to reward him for all of his promotional efforts.
Next, Roger Naylor, travel writer for The Arizona Republic and Arizona Highways, as well as the author of Arizona, Kicks on Route 66, spoke. One day while stopping in Seligman, he noticed French, German and Asian peoples spilling out of tour buses as well as motorcycles, and tourists all over the place. The draw? Route 66 and possibly a haircut from Angel, or at least a glimpse of him.
His humorous book with marvelous photos by Larry Lindahl has tips on where to find the best piece of pie, as well as side trips to places that make our piece of the state so unique.
Nimtz and Harris entertained and informed the audience along with Elaine Larsen, who turned their photos into a PowerPoint presentation.
Harris’ remembrances of Winslow on 66 were of a friendly, safe community which had Meteor Crater for a backyard, the only still operating Fred Harvey Hotel and our very own Clear Creak Park. The town watched out for our paperboy, Eddie Hogsett, and savored Ralph and Bessie’s Barbeque. In fact, Simmons Avenue, next to the Sonic, was named for them. Of course, people came from far and wide to find out what Troutner’s Store for Men was all about. People still come inquiring about those shapely cowgirls.
Harris’ dad owned a geiger counter and the whole family with picnic lunch in tow would head for a soda stop at Rimmy Jim’s before going out to hunt for meteors. Her dad and Marshall Hayes found a 300-pound one about the size of a round watermelon which required lots of effort to dig up. It resided in the Nininger Museum, and some of the collection was given to the University of Arizona.
When one reads about Route 66, it seems that Winslow is often overlooked, with only La Posada, Troutner’s and the Standin’ on the Corner Park being mentioned. Around the room and in Elaine’s PowerPoint were old photos showing Winslow from the 1930’s through the ‘60s when 66 ran through the town. Second Street was two-way. Scary! When the big trucks came through, you had to run fast to cross–seldom at the corner. When Third Street became 66 West, those big trucks still had to come through, although some help in the form of four stop lights was given to pedestrians and local traffic.
Santa Fe was the largest employer, while Duke City also employed a fair number of people. All the down-town business buildings were full. Service stations dotted every other corner, small groceries were scattered throughout town, the Tonto Drive In, the Rialto, the Chief, as well as the teens’ favorite hangouts, the Grand and the National cafes, were on or along Route 66. Dollars could easily be spent at JC Penney’s, Whipples, Yel-low Front, Babbits, Sprouse-Reitz and Rascos, Pruett’s Hardware, the bakery, the drug stores, Buckley’s Bootery–Winslow was a self-sufficient community.
Route 66 could be a dangerous highway. Each state had its own Dead Man’s Curve. Winslow’s curve is east between Cottonwood Wash and Hibbard Road. Before that stretch was closed off, you could drive out there to find pieces and parts of cars lying around. You’d also notice the cross where the Easter Sunrise Services were held.
Ruby Hill, which is now the location of Northland Pioneer College, was a great place to go precious stone hunting. Actually, they were rhodalite garnets. Grandpa Bruchman paid five cents a piece for them. There was always a brown lunch bag full of them in the vault. With Jack Martin’s help, they searched through them, picking out the stones which he set in 14K gold to create a ring and a pair of earrings which Dona Harris still has.
Old timers swear that Peter Paul’s candy shop on Second Street was where the Peter Paul candy originated. Wikipedia tells a different story. We didn’t care, but savored the samples that were available.
Buckley’s Bootery and JC Penneys were across Second Street. Nimtz shared four pair of shoes, including her graduation and her prom shoes. In the vacant lot between the two stores was a popcorn stand. Three shoe repair shops were on Second between Kinsley and Warren, while Starr Jewelers was at the corner. People re-paired their shoes then!
Nimtz introduced her BFF, Theresa Armijo Romero, whose folks owned the Gate Store. She provided many photos of this busy two-story business, which is now only one-story.
Nimtz and Harris gave a pictorial tour of 66 with commentary. Then Interstate 40 arrived. What a difference. Gone were the mom and pop motels, the service stations. Speaking of service stations, Harold Nimtz ran the Texaco for several years, where his son is soon to open his business, the House of Tint. Other downtown businesses began closing one after another. Bruchman’s Trading Post has become Bojo’s, where, Doris Wilcox verified, the spirit of Grandpa Bruchman is still present at times.
Still more pictures taking us west to Winona, where there was trading post after trading post with few remaining today. We ended with a sing-along: you bet, Get Your Kicks on Route 66! Krug had researched this popular song, which has been recorded by over 50 artists and provided those attending with Nat King Cole’s version, which was the first. Delicious cookies featuring the Route 66 logo were served by Krug, too.
That was 66 through Winslow and, yes, it was a “kick.”