Excerpt from Tim Steilís book.....
Somewhere around 2000 or so I was contacted by a guy who was working on a book about Route 66. He had heard a song of mine called Children Of The Mother Road and wanted to ask me some questions about it. The first round of questions that he emailed were sort of off target I thought, so in order to make it easier for him to know what to ask me, I decided to write back and fill him in a little about my history. As it turned out, he asked me if he could just go ahead and print that email verbatim in his book, and I agreed. This is what I wrote:
ďI was born in 1955 in Long Beach California, where Dad was working as an aircraft mechanic. In those days, his job involved contract work with a field team of other mechanics, doing maintenance or modifications to any number of different type aircraft, usually for some branch of the military. Once a contract was fulfilled, the entire crew, including families, would pack up and move caravan style to the next job. This would typically mean driving from one side of the country to the other. Once we had arrived, everyone would set up housekeeping as best they could until the time came to move out again. Naturally, traveling as much as we did in those days involved many many miles on old Route 66. I remember canvas bags of water hanging in front of the radiator for the long pulls across the desert. I learned to read from highway signs and billboards. The first real book of rules I learned was highway-driving etiquette, and I admired the truck drivers and their skills as much as my dad did. All my earliest memories are of the road: the gas stations (especially the red flying horse); the curio shops; fighting with my little brother in the back seat; or even, when I was real small, before David had arrived, riding on the floorboard of one of the pickup trucks we had for awhile; or sleeping up behind the back seat below the rear window, a favorite spot.
When we finally stopped moving, we settled just a few miles south of Route 66, close to the mighty intersection of I-40 and I-35. I will never forget my dad driving me down Sooner Road to where 66 crossed it, and telling me that if I went left, I could get to California, and if I went right, I could get to Chicago. I was 7 years old, and knowing that made me feel that I had the power and the freedom of any grown-up anywhere. It was nice to stop moving, but it felt so much more secure knowing how easy it would be to go back to the old ways. I lasted 10 years, leaving home to travel again at 17. Ever since, I have felt truly comfortable only when in motion.
Back in those days, to my family, a road was a road, and it was judged based on its condition. So itís significant to me that even with those criteria, Route 66 still meant something more to us. It has always been a big deal to me, further back than my conscious mind remembers. I guess, as a child, I assumed the specialness of it was a secret only we were aware of. In later years, I was surprised and pleased that others felt the same way, particularly those who still live on the road itself. I was glad to learn they didnít take it for granted, and that they remembered itís importance and history. Back then I thought of it as one very long, very thin city, and the ones who traveled it habitually as its residents. It was as much a hometown as anywhere for us.