Route 66 in the News

Couple Enjoys Anniversary Trip on 66

2011-11-19 13:14:30

Rowland and Barbara Maddox have been getting their kicks on Route 66 for their entire lives, so it only seemed fitting to celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary cruising along that famous stretch of road.

"The trip was Rowland's idea," said Barbara, 84. "I want to give him all the credit. We had just come back from a trip when he suggested it, and, at first, I didn't know if I was up to it, but the more I thought about it, the better it sounded."

The Upland couple on Nov. 6 packed up their PT Cruiser and headed down the historic highway with the destination of Winslow, Ariz. - yes, the same one made famous by the classic rock-n-roll band, The Eagles.

Barbara's first trip on Route 66 was in a Model A Ford when she was 2.

She had moved with her family from her San Diego birthplace to Flagstaff, Ariz.

Barbara's family eventually moved back to California and settled in downtown Los Angeles.

Rowland, 86, also took his first trip on Route 66 in a Model A Ford. It was 1935, he was 10.

He and his father escorted a lady and her two daughters from their home in Kansas to California during The Great Depression.

"Times were tough and my parents split up and they split us kids up," said Rowland, who went with his father while his two sisters stayed with their mother.

Rowland, however, wouldn't remain with his father.

Once in school, Rowland became close friends with Barbara's cousin John and his family.

Rowland's father planned to remarry and Rowland "did not fit into the picture."

Rowland was welcomed into John's family and through family functions, eventually met his future wife.

During their growing up years, the couple traveled Route 66 many times -- separately and together.

Rowland had become so special to Barbara's family that their union had the family's blessing even before the couple's Nov. 9, 1945 wedding day.

The couple honeymooned by driving Route 66.

"Route 66 has always played such a big role in our lives," Barbara said.

With a magnetic sign on the back of their cruiser reading, "Crusin' Route 66 on our 66th," the couple started their journey by grabbing a cup of coffee at the Upland Starbucks -- on Route 66.

Many sights and landmarks such as the Wigwam hotel in Fontana were familiar to the couple, but they did see some fascinating new sights as well, such as the Bottle Forest, nine miles outside of Victorville.

"It was really something to see," Barbara said. "There were all these poles with arms sticking out from them and bottles of all different colors on the arms and when the sun would move it would illuminate all the different colors of glass. Really something."

Another memorable stop was the historical museum in Barstow, which used to include a Harvey House, a popular chain of hotels, lunchrooms and restaurants, established by Fred Harvey.

Rowland and Barbara stopped at many former Harvey Houses on their trip including at a beautifully restored El Graces hotel in Needles, Calif.

When the couple drove into Oatman, Ariz., they each had poignant memories of the quaint desert town -- and made a new one as well.

"When we came to California in that Model A, I had to hold the steering shift tight to keep it from going out of gear," said Rowland laughing. "The roads at the time were nothing but dirt and rocks."

Barbara's memory was a bit different.

"I was only two, but I remember it so well," she said. "I standing in the front seat of the Model A between my parents."

Way back then, there were wild burros that roamed the streets of Oatman, and they're still there today.

In fact, the couple had a close encounter with one hungry donkey.

The couple aimed to take part in the Daily Bulletin On Vacation feature. Readers are encouraged to bring the newspaper with them on vacation and be photographed with it at whatever neat spot they're enjoying.

The process for the couple was a tad more unusual than most.

While Barbara was holding the newspaper, Rowland was looking for someone to snap a photo.

"A burro came up and grabbed the paper out of my hand and started chewing," Barbara said laughing. "Lucky for us, we'd brought two papers."

The couple also stopped in Ash Fork, Ariz., a town famous for its flagstone.

"We built a house in San Gabriel that we lived in for 20 (years), and we got the flagstone, we used in its construction from Ash Fork," Barbara said.

In Kingman, Barbara and Rowland met another couple doing the same thing only for a different reason.

"They saw our sign and we started talking," Barbara said. "That couple was celebrating their 66th birthdays driving on Route 66."

The weather was a little fickle for the journey as it switched between warm and cool.

When the couple arrived in Williams, Ariz., there was snow on the ground. The snow stayed on the ground through Flagstaff.

"My grandfather had a ranch 13 miles out of Flagstaff; it was once part of Route 66," said Barbara, of her family's bean farm.

Since then, a few parts of the historic route, including the road that once passed in front of her grandfather's farm -- were re-routed.

Other stops that held memories for the Maddoxs included: Ludlow, Peach Springs, Valle Vista, Hackberry, Amboy, Chambless, Essex and Goffs.

Their last stop before heading for home was Winslow, Ariz. The Eagles' first single and lead track, "Take It Easy," included the line "I'm standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see." The 1972 song helped make the Eagles rock `n' roll superstars.

The city is also home to La Posada, a posh hotel that boasted celebrity guests and was also a Harvey House.

"It was designed and built the year I was born," Barbara said.

Rowland and Barbara have raised one daughter and have two grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

After 66 years of marriage, the lively couple is not only still in love with each other, they enjoy each other's company and seem to never run out of things to talk about.

Rowland succinctly explained his relationship's longevity.

"With God's help, I learned the meaning of sacrificial love," he wrote in an e-mail. "It's to that love that I contribute the success and secret of our marriage. In conclusion, without Jesus the Christ in my life, I can do zero, amen."

Barbara, who shares her husband's strong faith, had some practical advice to add.

"Choose a person with whom you share the same value system," she said. "Esteem the other person higher than yourself and don't hold grudges, be forgiving and always remember how lucky you are."

~Diana Sholley, Contra Costa Times


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