Our route today was on and off I40 to try to catch stretches of Route 66. Our first stop was Seligman, AZ which is touted as the “birth place of Route 66”. It all began with Angel Delgadillo who helped form the Route 66 Association of Arizona after the interstate bypassed Seligman and most of Route 66 in the 1970’s. Angel was the town barber and along with his wife, Vilma, and now his daughter, Mirna, operates the Route 66 Gift Shop. It’s one of the many gift shops and motels along the main street in Seligman, but is a Mecca for tourist traveling on Route 66. We talked to his daughter and found out that Angel, who must be in his late 80’s, still works every day in the store and occasionally cuts hair in the barber shop. We just missed him today even though his daughter said she gave him the day off. Many people who visit the store leave behind all kinds of stuff from stickers to license plates to mark their visit to Seligman. For such a small state, Delaware is well represented as there were two licenses plates, one was an old black and white, a 5-digit PC plate. We mentioned to Mirna that the black and whites could be worth something if they are original issue and that one single digit plate sold for $650,000 at auction. She was surprised to find out that our license plates can be sold.
Another must see is the Snow Cap Drive-In. It was opened in 1953, by another Delgadillio, Juan. He built it on a shoestring budget out of scrap lumber, and it still looks like it did nearly 60 years ago. The food is supposed to be pretty good, but there were too many people in line so we decided to pass up lunch at the Snow Cap. Juan Delgadillo was another Route 66 character who promoted the history of the highway to anyone who visited his drive-in. Juan died in 2004, but the business is run by his sons.
After leaving Seligman, we traveled the old route to Ash Fork, “The Flagstone Capital of the World” because the large number of stone quarries and stone yards in and around the town. Not much else in Ash Fork. An interesting connection between Ash Fork and the Cool Springs Cabins we visited the other day, was that scenes from the Universal Soldier were filmed l here because building were cheap and run down and could be blown up.
Our final stop of the day after a short hop on I40 was Williams, the gateway to the Grand Canyon. We’re going to pass up the Grand Canyon this trip even though I wanted to see if we could get to the North Rim. It’s nearly 250 miles from Williams and would mean an extra 2 or 3 days. We need to be in Albuquerque by October 10. Williams is more prosperous than the other two Route 66 towns we visited today because of the Grand Canyon traffic and the railroad that leads there. There are lots of stores selling Route 66 memorabilia along with Indian jewelry, Arizona and Grand Canyon products, and plenty of restaurants. Sue almost got her fill of shopping, but “needs” to make a return trip in the morning to get something she didn’t buy tonight. We had dinner at Rod’s Steakhouse, a fixture in Williams since August 23, 1946, a significant date for us as it’s the same date of our wedding anniversary. Now we didn’t get married in 1946, it was 1969 which turns out to be the year the current owners, Lawrence and Stella Sanchez, were married. We met Stella last night. The food was great. I had a 16-oz T-bone steak and Sue had prime rib.
We’ve been fortunate to meet some of the real characters of Route 66 in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and here in Arizona. These people have worked hard to keep alive the tradition of the Mother Road. You just don’t get to see the living history of America by sticking to the interstates. The route isn’t always friendly to Winnie, but the experience has been priceless.