Charlie Nixon, a native of Glenrio who was interviewed in documentary, dies at 89

Charlie Nixon, a native of Glenrio at the Texas-New Mexico border who was interviewed in a documentary about the Route 66 ghost town, died on New Year’s Eve in nearby Vega, Texas. He was 89.

If you have a few minutes, read the colorful obituary on Nixon’s life. It’s apparent he enjoyed his time on Earth immensely.

Here’s the key part about Glenrio:

Charlie began his life on April 13, 1932, in Glenrio, New Mexico. He grew up in several small towns along Route 66, including Glenrio, Endee, San Jon, Porter, and Tucumcari. He was the second son of James “Ivan” Nixon and Rosa Lea Hackett Nixon. His family worked long hours in the cafes, service stations, bars/dance halls they managed and owned during these early years. The T. & N. Café and Bar in Glenrio was one of their businesses; the name stood for Texas and New Mexico, since it was on the state line. Later in his life, Charlie was interviewed by K.C. Keefer, Nancy Barlow, and Nick Gerlich for a documentary about Route 66, titled “Exit Zero Glenrio, Historic Route 66.” Charlie’s family and friends were thrilled at his newfound celebrity.

Nixon was born in the two-story Cooper Hotel in Glenrio, just a few years before a fire destroyed it. Below is a vintage postcard image of the hotel, courtesy of

Here’s the trailer for the aforementioned film, via Keefer’s Unoccupied Route 66. Nixon doesn’t appear in it, though.

Alas, it appears the DVDs of Glenrio and other sites along Route 66 have gone out of print. The Route 66 News review of the film is here.

KC Keefer mentioned him in a recent Facebook post:

More about Nixon and his deep ties to Route 66:

A knack for salesmanship showed itself early, when they would try to play pranks on tourists coming through on Highway 66. They gathered up a bunch of goat heads and cockleburs and told people they were porcupine eggs. Some folks actually bought them!
Route 66 came to be a lively place with a lot of happenings. The film crew that was producing Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” decided to film a portion along Route 66 in Glenrio. During filming, Charlie’s brother Edsel ran across the road and managed to be included in the scene. The movie was produced in 1940, so he was about 10 years old, and Charlie would have been eight. In real life, Charlie remembered seeing some of these destitute families trying to make it out West.

Nixon’s health began to decline in late 2021, and was sent home to hospice care. The obituary essentially concludes with this:

Charlie’s family members sat with him and told him what was on their hearts, and said their goodbyes, as they played gospel favorites for him. Gracie came to see him on December 31, 2021. She sat by his bed that evening and laid his new baby great-granddaughter next to him. Soon after, while “I Saw the Light” was playing next to his bedside, he drew his last breath. As one life was ending, another was just beginning.
His first granddaughter, Amy, said “It is fitting for Grandpa to pass on tonight, (New Year’s Eve) since he’s always been the life of the party.
Rest in Peace, Charlie. May the Circle Be Unbroken.

He was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Vega.

(Hat tip to Brian Gregory; image of Glenrio by Brent Lind via Flickr)

3 thoughts on “Charlie Nixon, a native of Glenrio who was interviewed in documentary, dies at 89

  1. One of the few remaining trips back in time along the Mother Road. I wondered why such a wide, well-kept paved road through the ghost town only to immediately become a dirt road on the NM side of the state line. One of my favorite memories of my Chicago to LA trip

  2. The town name of Glenrio came about in 1908 (originally named Rock Island [siding] by the Rock Island & Pacific Railroad) and began to thrive as town with its first vehicle trafiic when the town’s name was changed to Glenrio in 1917 along the pre-Route 66 dirt road path of the Ozark Trail. Glenrio established a post office in the mid-1930’s and was built on the New Mexico side of Glenrio in Quay County. Photo of that original post office building can be found on the Route 66 Artwork fan page at:

    Glenrio’s post office was later moved to the Texas side of town in Deaf Smith County, which was mostly a wood shack type structure partially attached to the west side of the old State Line Bar building (orinally marked with a flagpole and USA Flag and a steel mail drop off box near front door area of the bar’s concrete block structure) not long after the bar was closed when Interstate 40 bypassed Glenrio. The post office’s Mail “P.O. Mail Box Section” lobby area was located inside the bar’s concrete block building for security purposes. As seen in the Route 66 Artwork fan page photo here:

    The outdoor steel mail drop off box and USA Flag and townspeople’s “P.O. Mail Box Section” were removed by Postal Headquarters when the Glenrio post office finally permanently closed for good around 1985, and the town of Glenrio then became a “Place Name” according to U.S. Postal Service records. The town’s 79045 zipcode mail delivery area was then transferred and became the 88434 zipcode mail delivery area which is now serviced by the San Jon, NM. post office, although the old 79045 zipcode still remains acceptable to use. The concrete block building’s “post office P.O. Mail Box lobby was used for storage of countless items for many years after the post office closed. Owner of those many items still unknown. In later years, the storage lobby area was broken into and thieves took away most of the items that were stored inside. Not much left of the old bar/post office these days. Only the post office flag pole remains.

  3. Not many people can actually say they were raised or lived in that area, it’s so sparse. You do or did now that so many of them are gone, run into many of those folks who were connected to the old Route in one way or another. I by luck managed to meet and talk with many, just by chance, when driving the Route in early 1976 and again in August 1977. Back then it was just an old road and pretty close to being totally gone. Before the people on it figured out one more way to make money off it (as a tourist road) started popping up in the early 80s. So, if you met the people then when I did, they were still just regular folks going to work like anyone else. Hard to imagine that Mr. Nixon ever figured back then that he’d wind up in a documentary on Route 66.

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