“I Am Route 66” project focuses on its people

Those who’ve been on Facebook in recent weeks may have noticed photographs of people along the Mother Road and their handwritten thoughts for the “I Am Route 66” project.

Surfing through the website, I’ve counted about 20 people from Route 66 with their images and writings — mostly from the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico. Many more images and scribblings undoubtedly are in the can.

Here’s one of Larry Smith, owner of Motel Safari in Tucumcari, New Mexico, with his beloved boxer, Sam:

The “I Am Route” group recently fanned out to Tulsa to find more subjects. It will host a free open portrait shoot a Lile Art Gallery at 2719 SW Sixth Ave. (aka Route 66) in Amarillo starting at 3 p.m. Feb. 23.

The folks behind “I Am Route 66” are photographer Jim Livingston, writer Dana “Doc” Crandell and Lile Art Gallery owner Bob “Crocodile” Lile, a former president of the Texas Old Route 66 Association.

On the website’s home page, it states:

While there are hundreds of resources about the sights and stops along this iconic highway, this project focuses on the people of Rt. 66: those who live along it, those who run its attractions and those living the dream of traveling it. Our team is dedicated to helping preserve the legacy of this American icon and its pioneers.[…]

This project also much more. It’s the first stage of evolution in something much bigger:The “I Am” project. Since its beginning in a quiet little coffee shop in Amarillo, Texas, the number of participants has grown to over 700 and continues to climb. If you haven’t heard of it, take a few minutes to read all about it on the hub site: IamTheJourneys.com.

The process is simple. Our team travels to locations along Route 66 and organizes unique portrait shoots. Participants are asked to complete three sentences: “I am…”, “I regret…” and “Before I die…” on a plain, white piece of paper. That’s followed by a quick, informal portrait session with photographer Jim Livingston.

After the session, each individual’s photo is combined with his or her handwritten answers to create a one-of-a-kind portrait that says so much more than a simple photograph. A digital, printable copy of the image is emailed to each participant after the photos are processed, as our thanks for your participation.

The best of the portraits will become part of a series of books, beginning with I Am Route 66 Vol. 1. Each book will become available to the public, offering a fresh, new insight into the people of Rt 66 and humanity in general.

“I Am Route 66” is taking donations for the project, and it’s selling photo prints from Route 66 to help with the effort, as well.

(Image of Larry Smith and Sam from the “I Am Route 66” project via Facebook)

4 thoughts on ““I Am Route 66” project focuses on its people

  1. We plan on being in Albuquerque, February 21-22. Would like to include eon Warnick and Emily Priddy in our interviews, just need contact info.

  2. From 1961 to 1964 I spent several years hitchhiking, mostly along Rt. 66, “yo-yoing” between Michigan and the west coast, accumulating an estimated quarter million miles “on the thumb”. At least once, I started at The Loop (way out of my way and in a very difficult hitching environment) and ended with my feet in the ocean, just so I could say that I had hitched the entire length of Rt. 66 in one go. I slept “rough” during most of that time; I doubt if I spent 50 nights under a roof in those years.

    I depended mostly on handouts and “the kindness of strangers” in those days (I was a bum). I also lost a lot of weight, dropping from 210 when I left high school to 140 when I came off the road. I had a lot of adventures, many of which went completely over the head of a naive teenager and I only realized how serious they were in retrospect many years later. (Picked up by four guys who just happened to want to repaint their late model car by the side of the road with cans of spray paint.)

    My best time was 46 hours from LA to Michigan. Not a single long ride, as you might think, but a perfect series of 8 or 9 rides with each new pickup almost before the previous ride was out of sight, and every driver a ‘gunner’.

    I wish I could be a part of the “I Am Rt. 66” project, but I am afraid my travelling days are far behind me. I don’t know how I would get to any of your sessions.

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