Oklahoma County and several residents of a stretch of original Route 66 on Monday installed a sign that commemorated a brief stop by a former Beatle, Paul McCartney, there in 2008.
Shellee Graham, who lives on that segment of historic road with Route 66 historian Jim Ross, was there to help document the installation with photographs. She also came up with the concept and designed the sign:
McCartney stopped there on Aug. 5, 2008, with his future wife, Nancy Shevell, during a cross-country trip in a 1989 Ford Bronco on the Mother Road shortly after his 66th birthday.
The smaller print on the bottom of the sign describes what happened there:
Their trip began on July 31, 2008, from Paul’s holiday home in The Hamptons, New York. They joined Route 66 in Illinois, hoping to stay incognito, but that lasted only a couple of days. On August 5, their journey brought them here, to this road: Old Highway 66, just east of Arcadia, Oklahoma.
Resident Toby Thompson was working outside when a Ford Bronco stopped and the driver asked him if this was Old 66. After a few seconds he realized who he was talking to. He had no pen, camera or phone with him, so he simply verified that yes, this was Old 66, and he told McCartney he was honored to meet him. They thanked him kindly and went on their way, staying overnight at the Skirvin Hotel downtown. Sightings of Sir Paul and his future bride Nancy Shevell continued throughout their tour, allowing everyone involved to “Get Their Kicks on Route 66!”
Graham also credited Oklahoma County District 3 sign technician Buck Brokaw for his role in getting the sign erected.
The little Old 66 segment away from the main highway can be seen below. It’s the road that contains Godspeed Car Care Ministry and Cannibal V8 Resurrection.
You can read about the McCartney-on-66 saga here and here. It caused quite a hubbub on the Mother Road for about a week. The entire episode also prompted Oklahoma City to sign its segments of Route 66 better.
UPDATE 12/25/2020: KTUL-TV in Tulsa posted a good follow-up story about Thompson, his McCartney sighting and the folks behind the sign’s creation.
(Image of Toby Thompson at the new Paul McCartney Route 66 sign courtesy of Shellee Graham)