7:20 p.m. Aug. 6
The everlasting memory of my 1991 trip down Route 66 was the way I reconnected with the basic goodness of people. I was 36 and maybe something of a hot shot. The summertime trip from Chicago to Santa Monica, Ca. was a refresher course on how to listen to strangers, trust your heart and slow down.
How great is it that Paul McCartney and his girl friend Nancy Shevell are checking out Route 66?
Maybe I'm amazed.
Cultural disconnect has always been a problem with famous artists and songwriters. Rod Stewart was one of my favorites--until he settled in Los Angeles. Jack Kerouac? Maybe he only had one good novel in him anyway. Route 66 is a good way to reclaim your roots. Macca could be working on a song about Henry's Route 66 Rabbit Ranch (Hare it is!) in downstate Staunton............
Until the news of McCartney's American journey broke on Wednesday, the couple could pretty much check out things in anonymity. Now everyone will be on the lookout for McCartney's green '89 Ford Bronco. with New York plates. [I wonder what road songs they brought along, check out "Road Music" on my Favorite Links.]
What a beautiful way for Paul to celebrate his 66th birthday.
But modern American skepticism met all of those who encountered McCartney in the early Illinois leg of his trip.
I asked C.J. Lowder what has surprised him the most after his chance meeting with McCartney at a Springfield, Ill. gas station.
"I'm surprised how many skeptics there are," Lowder answered Wednesday. "That he would be traveling without a limo. Without security guards. Or, 'Why didn't he stop at a better place to go to a bathroom than a Circle K.? Shoot, we're motorcycle guys. We're not computer guys. I wouldn't know how to photo shop a photo."
Shevell volunteered to take the now priceless cellphone photo of Lowder and his pals with McCartney.
"She was definitely high class," said Lowder, a Springfield resident. "He was in a tee shirt and slacks, as casual as a guy on a Saturday drive. She was in nice white Capri pants, blue blouse and big sunglasses. People go, 'Why didn't you ask him for proof?' Hey, we were just surprised to see him. We didn't want to overwhelm him. We knew he was just trying to pass through. We asked him if he was going to the Cardinals game. He said no, but when he hit the road he said, 'Go Cardinals!'."
While fact checking my stories, I time-framed McCartney's visits.
A security tape at the Joliet Area Historical Museum on Route 66 placed him there at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Lowder said the cellphone photo was taken at 4:36 p.m. By Saturday night he was eating at an Italian restaurant in St. Louis. And on Sunday night he stopped at C&D's Quick Stop on Old Route 66 in Lebanon, Mo.---ironically across the street from the Bell Restaurant where Sen. Barack Obama stopped last week.
Those are all smooth connections on Route 66.
"He came in and asked for directions to Bennett Springs (state park)," said secretary Mary Jane Cushing at C & D's Quick Stop. "He was driving an older green car. He gave our employee an autograph on a piece of notebook paper. It says, 'Cheers to Kay, Paul McCartney '08.' She compared it on the Internet and it is his signature. The woman with him did not come in." During our conversation Cushing was listening to a Christian radio promoting the 40th annual Brumley Sing gospel festival. She would not be making any of this up.
By blog time Paul and Nancy should have made it through Oklahoma, but they still have Texas, New Mexico and California in front of them. Any roadside tips will be accepted.
Happy trails Paul, a good man on the run.