Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Highway Angel

Angel Delgadillo was recently featured in The Arizona Republic.  Route 66 News picked up his story
You can read the Route 66 News discussion and allocades for Angel here:  https://goo.gl/ebwHeD

We first met Angel in October 1980 when we visited his brother Juan's legendary Snow Cap Drive-In. Juan's been gone since 2004 but Angel lives on as fresh and smiling as ever. We got to Angel very well from August through early November 1986 when we ran in our first election for the Arizona Legislature. Angel Barbar Shop was like a refuge for me there in Seligman. The electoral district included Kingman so I'd stop often in Angel's Place and he wold always ask for my help in getting Route 66 designated as a historic route. Believe it or not, that was not a popular idea back then. I always promised I would help, win or lose in the election. Well, not long afterwards, I got my chance to pay back Angel's Friendship during the election. The topic of designating Route 66 as a historic road came up in early 1987 at an advisory committee meeting. As most of you know, the top of the highway food chain only takes action on things that have been green-lighted by various and sundry advisory committees. I will never forget that meeting. There was outright negativity to the idea from one blow hard oversize male on the committee. He was the type of blow hard who made people cower with his loud, obnoxious, grating voice. He had a "Back East" accent and waved his arms a lot and really tried to dominate the meeting with his ridiculous ideas about how Route 66 was just a washed up piece of asphalt rotting under the desert sun. Angel was (and I presume he still is) a very polite, soft spoken gentleman who undoubtedly was born with a perpetual smile that lights up the Seligman World. Angel was no match for this reprehensible nattering naboob of negativity. But that blow hard met his match when I stood up to speak. Running in that election had really supercharged my public speaking confidence. By then I had logged several months as a registered lobbyist; had sheparded a success bill bill to the Governor's desk and had been appoint to the Arizona Outdoor Recreation Coordinating Commission, a group with considerably more clout than this piss ant advisory committee. Plus, I had promised Angel I would come through for him. So it was time to "Stand & Deliver" and I really let 'er rip. I gave one of my best all time speeches. I'd give anything to have a transcript of that speech but, alas, public testimony wasn't being recorded at state advisory committee back then. Man, I paced back in forth in front of that committee; I pointed a finger at each of them; I made expansive gestures and I really, really conjured up the essence of what Route 66 would eventually become. I talked about untold numbers of people from around the world who would flock to Route 66 and, yes, I even invoked the concept of Highway Pilgrims going to the altar of the cathedral of The Mother Highway there in Seligman and beyond. Oh, my, my, it was the kind of speech you simply didn't hear in those days and rarely hear even today. I blew right through my three minute time limit and nobody except the blowhard seemed to care. No matter how he frowned at the chairwoman, she didn't shut me down. She let me go to my inevitable Cross Of Gold finale. As I finished I looked over at Angel and his eyes were welled with tears but he was smiling Big Time. The committee voted 6-1 to approve the nomination for historic status. Only the blowhard voted "no". The big bag of hot air didn't have anything to say during the rest of the meeting. He pouted in his seat and left in a huff. Angel and I hugged each and held our handshake much longer than normal. I will be forever proud of that day. I haven't seen Angel in many years but it is so gratifying to read about him this morning. Angel never faltered in his devotion to The Nother Road. He never gave up. He never gave in. He stood tall when he was the only one standing. Today he stands tall as a Patron Angel of Route 66, a man among men who made a difference. VIVA & BRAVO, Angel! May Your Spirit Soar Strong Forever!

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