A QUARTER CENTURY JOURNEY STEMS FROM THE MOTHER ROAD
Honoring the Aggregate of People, Places & Purpose
Penned by Lorrie Fleming – June 21, 2021, Acknowledging the Summer Solstice
The Journey is an extension of our ‘family tree’ that sprouts, branches, and evolves through the people that we meet along the way. Collectively chartering a course to reach quantitative destinations in our lifetime. Literary mastermind John Steinbeck said it best, “A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike”.
The wisdom of elders, the power of decision makers, leadership, and mentorship in collaboration with the energy of youth is the synergy that defines and connects our crossroads. When someone randomly crosses our path, even just for a moment, they become a permanent part of our life’s pathway.
Thoughts of many hearts & hands transport me back to the founding epoch of the Canadian Route 66 Association and to the notables who inspired, counselled, and motivated the will for me to develop the skillset to generate this worldwide phenomenon. Firstly, the initiative sparked by being touched by Angel Delgadillo, who pioneered the State of Arizona to recognize Route 66 as historic significance.
Many folks thereafter reached out to chart a map for Bob & I to follow, drawing the course of this untapped domain. Social supporters and confidence building started by a phone call to the City of Victoria, BC Societies Agency where the Clerk asked me to explain the purpose of marrying a US highway into Canada? The answer to the question became clear, ‘Route 99’ is the thread to connect our two nations with the Mother Road.
A trip to Chicago in 1996 connected hearts at the recognized starting point of Michigan Ave and Jackson Blvd, touted as “The True Beginning of Route 66”. This intersection became the impetus to meeting notables accredited with spearheading the Historic Association of Illinois. Tom Teague the Founding President of the Illinois Route 66 Association, Editor of the 66 News and esteemed author of “Searching for 66” spontaneously met Bob & I in Springfield and shared a wealth of advice to take back home with us.
Garnering this advice, and after achieving incorporation status of the Canadian Route 66 Association, a trip to California in 1997 led our paths to crossover with David & Mary Lou Knudson, the Founders of the National Historic Route 66 Federation, dedicated to promoting & preserving “Main Street of America”. At an introduction meeting on Foothill Blvd (an original portion of Route 66 in California), the Knudson’s opened the gateway to an everlasting connection with Canada. In 2001, renowned Canadian Muralist, Michelle Loughery was commissioned to set in motion the Official Route 66 Mural City designation in Cuba, Missouri, that continues to spread its colorful wings decades later.
In Art we shall grow, the combined wisdom of the Knudson’s and the clear vision of Michelle’s artistic eye has evolved into a two-nation quest to extend the will to preserve & propagate the Mother Road as an International Art Route, and a continual conduit to showcase the storyline linking our heritage keepers by a bridge of connectivity. Hand-to-Land Art is key to unlock the borders and to set the future in focus toward an Art Route corridor that can be experienced literally, physically, and digitally!
Great Gateways are paramount in welcoming travelers, extending from the Santa Monica Pier at California’s Pacific Coast, the official end of Route 66, up to the Peace Arch Monument on Route 99 that shines at the borderline between Blaine, Washington and Surrey, British Columbia.
In California, Route 66 turns south out of Eagle Rock (a neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles, located between the cities of Glendale and Pasadena) where Route 66 joins US-99. This intersection is the Gateway to the “Canada-California Connection.”
Photo Courtesy of Bob Walker taken June, 2016 in Alexandria Virginia along the Historic National Road Tour organized by the Lincoln Highway Association