Celebrity Cafe

Friday, August 26, 2005

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Since I was a very young child, I’ve had a fantasy of driving a fast car on Route 66, a twenty-four hundred mile stretch of road beginning in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles. It predated the superhighways and would meander through towns, cities, and hamlets allowing a driver to see the country as they passed through it.

I used to watch an old television series with Martin Milner and George Maharis called Route 66. They drove a red Corvette in the age when the price of color television was only beginning to reach affordability for the common man. We had a black and white model. Every week one blonde and one dark-haired man would set off in a convertible with only adventure awaiting them. They’d stop and work to get enough money for repairs, gas, food, and the essentials of a life on the road. They had no attachments, nothing to keep them tied to any one place. The world was their highway and there were magical escapades at every stop.

What freedom. What escape, I thought. This was a wonderful way to live. And I wanted to do it. However, I was a girl with many years ahead of me before I was even old enough to drive, much less learn the constraints put on women and the added bonds that held black women back during that time. Yet that sense of freedom to comb the road, stopping along the way for the pure sense of adventure or just to find out where the road leads, never left me. Today I will drive down a road with the sole intention of finding out where it goes. Dead-ends, grassy knolls, babbling brooks, farm country, the center of town, warehouse districts, or suburbs, all have something to say. They feed that sense of freedom, of being uninhibited. Many of these drives have fueled my own stories or provided me with fresh ideas for current or future projects.

My sense of adventure has never been satisfied, although I have explored places since that black and white television program ended, the sixties happens and I learned to drive. Oftentimes, I’ve foregone the fastest route, and taken the secondary, more scenic roads that wind through towns and slow down to twenty-five miles an hour. I believe keeping adventure alive is a plus and it will never end for me. There is so much to see, so many people to talk to and discover the uniqueness of their lives.

While I’d like to upgrade that Corvette to a Porsche, it isn’t the need for speed that calls me, but that all important freedom that can be obtained with only a car and the open road. Most of Route 66 survives today, but not in its original, well-maintained form. The road is cracked, overgrown, and hard to find in places where only a Jeep, not a Porsche, can traverse. My dream of taking that adventure and finding out where the road leads remains alive and well and as Route 66 beckons to me, there are interesting lives down every roadway.

Where is yours?

Shirley Hailstock, 39 Celebrity Circle


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