The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 9, 2008

Small Tales from Route 66

Filed under: History — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 9:16 pm

For those of you who have seen the post I made on abandoned Route 66 gas stations a few months ago (which seems to consistiently be among the most popular posts on this site, mostly from people searching for abandoned gas station photos,) I thought I’d call attention to a very interesting comment that was posted to it earlier today by Don Christiano, a former resident of Truxton Arizona in the early Seventies before I-40 bypassed this particular stretch of the old Route 66:

The two gas stations in Truxton are different stations. I lived at both of them in the early 70’s. The Texaco at that time was owned by Ralph and Emily Hunter. They lived in a doublewide behind the station. Ralph caught himself on fire while smoking a cigarette and standing in gas. Burned badly. Not sure what happened to them after that. The other station was part of the Truxton Cafe. Went out of business when I-40 went through. Most of those cars have been there since the 60’s. People would break-down, have no way to pay and hitch a ride to california. Most of them never reclaimed the vehicles later. Belive it or not, before I-40 went through the town had tons of life. There was a bar across the street where the Indians from Peach Springs would walk over to drink at and tons of traffic. We moved a few months before I-40 went through and I haven’t been back since.

When most people think of Route 66, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is one of the images that comes to mind, with its Depression-era tale of people fleeing the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma for a new life in California.  With the recent surge in nostalgia for the glory days of Route 66, with its images of sparkling roadside diners and motels with gaudy neon signs, we should keep in mind that for a lot of people, their trip on the Mother Road was a one-way journey, and with cars generally being a lot less reliable and hitchhiking being generally more socially acceptable than it is today, I could see where someone might have just decided to ditch their car and thumb it the rest of the way to their new life.  There are some cars parked at the Texaco that are clearly newer than that (the link goes to the full-size version of that photo,) which leads me to wonder what the story behind those might be.  It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in some cases, that same picture just might have a thousand stories behind it as well, and it’s fortunate that we get to hear a couple of them.

 Oh, and just in case anyone here hasn’t figured it out yet, don’t smoke cigarettes while you’re standing in a puddle of gas, OK?

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