Showing posts from December, 2014

A New Gift of the Magi

No tale of Route 66 this time! Instead, my holiday present to all of you - a Christmas Eve story that is purely fiction, but hopefully touches on the human connections that we all need to make. Enjoy, and may you all have a wonderful and blessed holiday - no matter which one(s) you celebrate! A NEW GIFT OF THE MAGI The snow falls fast and silent. It's the evening of promises – of the Savior, of Santa, of special significance. And in this particular small city, it's also the night of broken hearts, bleak loneliness, and barren spaces under spindly Christmas trees where toys and packages ought to sparkle. Edith glances longingly at beautifully framed photographs of her husband George - of George with their son Jeff when Jeff was small, of Edith and George on their wedding day, and so on. They are all arranged atop the grand piano which George played while he was still alive. This is the first Christmas Edith will face without him since they were married 53 years a

Leaving New Mexico with guitars and cottage cheese

Promptly at 12:10 p.m. yesterday, we (crew, other passengers, and yours truly) left the ABQ station and headed north out of the city on the Southwest Chief. The tracks run parallel (just a few blocks away) with the pre-1937 Route 66 alignment/4 th Street corridor. My visit was too short this time but it was the best I could fit in right now with all the projects I'm juggling. Train travel is always teeming with humanity in all our glorious diversity. A cross-section of America – age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and hairstyle – travels Amtrak. Just an observation, not a commercial. On the coaches, stockinged feet, pine-tree-patterned blankets, children's toys, overstuffed tote bags, and sometimes a lolling, sleeping head stick out into the aisle from seat and floor. Train staff try to keep people and their stuff corralled back into the seat spaces, mostly in vain. Actually, this afternoon I made a note to travel on Tuesday more often. There were

Appetite for Fred Harvey

On Sunday my daughter, Erica Jett, and I went to the opening festivities of the New Mexico History Museum's new permanent exhibit, Setting the Standard:  The Fred Harvey Company and Its Legacy . There was a huge crowd, including former Harvey Girls and members of the Harvey family. New Mexicans and others have been getting hungry for the Fred Harvey story, fanned by the flames of Stephen Fried's excellent book, Appetite for America:  Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West - One Meal at a Time. The New Mexico History Museum staff must have felt very gratified by the immense interest and excellent attendance yesterday. Four showings during the day of Katrina Parks' documentary The Harvey Girls:  Opportunity Bound  appeared to all have been packed in the auditorium with overflow space in the lobby also being utilized. The 57-minute film was wonderfully done and included numerous delightful interviews with former Harvey Girls.  The 2:00 pm talks were a

On the trail of Fred

I might have accidentally been almost a Fredhead long before the term was coined. When I was 8 or 9 years old, I made my first trip “out west” with my parents. That trip kicked off a life-long love affair with the mountains, the high desert, native arts, sunsets, buildings (I didn't know enough to call it “architecture”), and pretty much all things western. One of my mother's sisters worked at a Fred Harvey restaurant in the 1960s, one of the five Tollway Oases constructed up over the pavement of the Illinois Tollway in the Chicago area. My mother and I went to eat there a few times, sitting up over the toll road, having a nice meal and seeing my aunt at work. Existing at least in my memory, there was a Fred Harvey over-the-highway restaurant in Oklahoma, too, but I might have dreamed up that one. My parents had put in a decade of traveling together before I was born, and Fred Harvey must have come up in their recollections that they told me. I seemed to grow up hear

Edwardsville Route 66 Conference update

My new favorite quote - "Sometimes the wheel turns slowly, but it turns." - Lorne Michaels. For those of you waiting for Edwardsville Route 66 Conference news, it must seem like a very slow wheel. But take my word for it, we are making progress. Here are my updates: 1.  We are working out a few final details to be able to announce a partnership between the City of Edwardsville and a sponsoring organization. As soon as this is done we will have a webpage and a phone number. We are also waiting on the Edwardsville - Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce to finish hammering out their "complimentary-themed" 2015 Halloween Parade theme and title. 2.  The current go-to place for information on Edwardsville and updates on the conference itself is our new Route 66 Edwardsville Facebook page! Please "like" our page at , please share it liberally, and do visit it often for conference updates, local Route 66 history, and inf