It was a year ago this past week while on the first leg of my long anticipated Around the USA road trip. I was cruising along Interstate 40, eastbound at 80 miles an hour approaching Winslow, Arizona.
It was nearly 11:00 at night. I’d left Las Vegas 5 hours earlier and had a long trip ahead. Other than a few stops for naps I was determined to make it to Huntsville, Alabama, still 21 hours away, for my first layover to visit family.
Weeks earlier I’d researched the routing, and possible sightseeing stops. Now, nearing the first possibility at a spot in Winslow’s downtown corridor, I was having second thoughts. After all it was late and I found myself unsure I wanted to delay my momentum so early in the trip. Would it be worth the bother?
A check of my GPS indicated it was just a mile or so off the Interstate. Had it been five miles I probably wouldn’t have stopped. Turned out it was just too close to pass by.
The place was the Standin’ on the Corner Park. It pays homage to the Jackson Brown/Glenn Frey song “Take It Easy.” The Eagles’ first single was released nearly 45-years ago on May 1, 1972. It would go on in July to peak at #12 on the Billboard charts. It’s been a long time, since I’ve heard the words, Winslow, Arizona, without thinking of that song.
It resonates for me. Like one of those occasional signature songs, we all have in our lives. The ones that flood our mind with deep-rooted memories of days gone-by. People. Places. Events and milestones. All frozen in time and place.
For me the memories include my first months at Vandenberg Air Force Base. New-found freedom! A brand new car. California! The central coast. Beautiful spring days. The aroma of flower fields that stretched for miles. And especially a California girl with whom, for a time and season, we shared love and our young lives together.
Most will know and remember the song by its familiar second verse:
Well, I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me.
So there I was… standin’ on that corner along the famous Route 66 in this little southwestern town. The late night April weather was perfect. I had the entire scene all to myself, not a single soul in sight! Winslow at that hour was a ghost town.
Amid the concrete park stands a statue of Jackson Brown, with a guitar at his side. On the building behind is a large mural and parked at the curb, just feet away, a pristine, flatbed Ford. I took a few photos, some of them seen here. In half an hour or less I was back on the Interstate. I was impressed how well the city had created this appropriate tribute. Kudos to you Winslow!
As I headed east, listening of course to the Eagles, with midnight approaching, I thought… how grateful I was I’d taken the time to stop. It turned out to be not only a choice, memorable experience but… an emotional one as well. I’m sure most will wonder how that might be… except maybe for those who experienced similar life-changes during those days in the spring and summer of 1972.
We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here again …