Route 66 - Kingman, Andy Devine & Other Neat Stuff

Promo pic of Andy Devine - I believe this was from
a
Twilight Zone episode.
Coming into Kingman, Route 66 becomes Andy Devine Ave. If you are old enough, you may remember raspy-voiced Andy as Roy Roger's sidekick "Cookie Bullfincher" or as "Jingles P. Jones, " in the TV show, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok or in some of the more than 400 movies he had parts in or numerous radio show skits such as Jack Benny's Buck Benny Rides Again.  Andy was actually born in Flagstaff, but grew up in Kingman after he moved there with his parents when he was just 1. After he passed away due to leukemia in 1977, the city named Route 66 through town in his honor.

We stopped a few blocks into town at a gas station that had gas a couple of cents cheaper than several we had just passed. It had a large open-sided shelter with a lot of hay bales  behind the store. A nice older gentleman wearing overalls and a cowboy hat that had seen better days many days ago pulled in next to me in his beat up old pickup with all the windows rolled down and while getting gas himself, started a conversation about my new pickup. He walked over, gently ran his hand along the fender and softly said, "I sure wish I could afford one of these." It was easy to see he had lived a hard life and things probably were not going to get any better. If I had Bill Gates or Warren Buffett money, I would have said, "Here you go, old-timer. Take the keys and enjoy her." Unfortunately, I'm not rich and he's probably still driving that old pickup with the broken air conditioner.

I went inside the store and asked about a restroom. The girl behind the counter told me the bathroom was broke. I made a joking comment about the whole room being broke and without cracking a smile she said, "Not the room, just the toilet. It sprung a leak or something so the water is turned off."  There was a young guy behind the counter with her, standing there watching, waiting for another customer to come in and he looked at me and nodded his head to indicate she was telling the truth. I said I bet they would be glad to get that fixed, but they both chuckled and she replied, "I've worked here for 2 years and it was broke when I started." I asked, "So where do you guys go when you need to?" With no smile at all to show whether she was joking or not, she pointed outside to the hay shelter and said, "Over there behind some of those bales. You can go there too if you want." I waited for one of them to laugh or at least smile, but neither did. Well, OK then. Thanks, but I believe I'll just cruise on down the road a ways.

Sure enough, just a couple of blocks later, still on Andy Devine/Route 66, we came to a Jack-In-The-Box fast food place. The food was decent for fast food and the restroom worked and was fairly clean. Then one of those truly serendipitous, "what are the odds" road things happened. A little over 35 years earlier, I finished my hitch in the Navy and was discharged in San Diego, California. I had spent the last 3 years serving in the photo lab on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. I'm sitting there in a generic Jack-In-The-Box in Kingman, Arizona and in walks a gentleman wearing a U.S.S. Kitty Hawk cap. After he ordered his food and I had finished the last of my fries, I walked over to him, introduced myself and told him I had served on "the Kitty." For those who may not have had a military experience, especially a Navy ship duty, even though there may have been thousands of men (and a handful of women in the last few years) who served on "your" ship, as soon as you meet one, there is a connection, a blue-water sailor shared experience and easy conversation follows. During our talk, it turned out this guy had started his service on the Kitty Hawk shortly after I left. And out of hundreds of jobs and dozens of departments on-board our ship, what was his duty and where did he work? In the photo lab. Here it was 35 years later, out of thousands of sailors who served on my ship, both of us on vacation hundreds of miles from our respective homes, we both decided to grab a burger on the way through town and just happened to choose the same place at basically the same time in the afternoon several hours after the normal lunch rush and I chance to meet the guy who probably replaced me when I finished my enlistment and was discharged! The odds of that must be about a billion to 1, but it happened. Just one of the surprises of the road.
The Kingman Powerhouse Visitor Center
After saying goodbye to my new-found friend, we decided to take a little side trip before leaving Kingman - the Powerhouse Visitor Center. The Powerhouse was placed in business in 1907 to generate electricity for the city. It served in that capacity until 1938 when the Hoover Dam was completed and started providing all the electricity the city needed. The building sat unused for a few years until a group of citizens rescued it and turned it into a Visitor Center. It also houses several other organizations, including "The Historic Route 66 Museum." The Route 66 museum was interesting and worth a visit, but the real reason we stopped was because of a marker located about 12 feet up on the wall just to the right of the entrance door. That marker is exactly 3,333.33 feet above sea level.  No, as far as I know there is nothing magical or mystical about being 3,333.33 feet above sea level. It's just something different, another roadside oddity. Youngest-daughter couldn't figure out why we had to stop and get a picture of it. "You ask why, daughter of mine? Well, my dear, in the words of George Mallory, 'Because it's there."
Exactly 3,333.33 feet above sea level!


Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state:



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