Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tucumcari Tonite

Tucumcari, New Mexico epitomizes the Route 66 Boomtown.

When the highway was built, Tucumcari capitalized on her location and built dozens of motels to cater to travelers along that stretch of road between Amarillo and Albuquerque.

"Tucumcari Tonite!" billboards invited drivers to spend the night in one of 2,000 sparkling new motel rooms.

But when I-40 was completed, travelers began to zip past this one-industry town.

Today, the main street is lined with crumbling old businesses, a harsh reminder of the old days. Route 66 has become a sort of American Appian Way.

We made a point to stop here. Walking past faded old signs, weathered by decades of sunlight, your mind fills with images. You picture an old Chevy station wagon. Mom & Dad are in the front. You're sitting in the back.

Dad still has a full head of dark hair, and Mom is lean and lovely. They're both smoking cigarettes; neither wears a seat belt. Their windows are rolled down, and you can see that their arms are starting to get sunburned.

All you can think about is swimming in a pool. Any motel will be fine, as long as it has a big, blue pool.

But today, the pools are dry, and the travelers are gone. Walking down the street, past the spectacular, faded signs, you remember the days when you were in the back seat, and Mom and Dad were in the front. They've finally settled on a motel, and yes, it has a big, blue pool. They picked it because they wanted to make you happy.


Weezie said...

Well said, David.

Mike and KK said...

Love the gugi and the story. You could be a writer!!