The first time, we drove past Winslow, Arizona.
Mr. Carolina was at the wheel as we chugged along the I-40 toward Flagstaff. I was in the passenger seat, and when I saw a sign saying Winslow was ahead, I started singing the part of the song by the Eagles about standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. Mr. Carolina joined in, and we were soon singing loudly and enthusiastically. The kids in the back (Sweet L and Mr. and Ms. Fighting Couple) were too young (or too something) to know the song, so Mr. Carolina explained it was by the Eagles. I loved him for knowing the song and for singing it with me.
I was curious about Winslow, but I didn’t ask to stop. We were on a mission, on our way to a Rainbow Gathering in Mesquite, NV, and I didn’t want to slow us down on frivolity. It was my van, but I’d just met these cool young traveling kids a few days before, and I wanted them to like me. I didn’t want them to think I was dumb for wanting to see what kind of town a band they’d never heard of had sung about before they were born.
The second time we approached Winslow, Mr. Carolina was again at the wheel, but we’d parted ways with Sweet L and Mr. and Ms. Fighting Couple. We had, however, picked up the Okie and Lil C in Santa Nella, CA and were trying to get them to Oklahoma City.
It was early when we approached Winslow. We must have slept at a rest stop the night before, but I don’t remember why we were up and traveling so early in the morning. I just remember that although the sun was up, it wasn’t out. The sky was overcast, and the morning air was chilly.
Mr. Carolina took the Winslow exit and started driving us through downtown. It was deserted that early in the morning (I think it was Sunday too), but the look of the place hinted that even on a Monday at noon, the streets weren’t going to be hopping much more than they already were.
Mr. Carolina had traveled Interstate 40 (which he referred to simply as “The 40”) through Arizona and into California before. He’s been pretty drunk for most of that trip, he said. Sometimes he brought us places and didn’t seem to be sure if he’d been there before while drunk or if his intuition had led him to something we would like to see. That’s how it was in Winslow.
We were downtown, he was driving, then there was this corner with a statue of a guy leaning on a post. How did he know how to get us there? He parked the van and we all climbed out and ran around what turned out to be a park for a few minutes.
It’s not a big park. It’s mostly the statue surrounded by bricks, with a mural behind him. There is also a flatbed Ford parked on the side street.
According to Wikipedia ,
The park contains a two-story trompe-l’œil mural by John Pugh, and a life-size bronze statue by Ron Adamson of a man standing on a corner with a guitar. The park is surrounded by a wall of bricks, each with a donor’s name on it, and a story by each of the donors describing their fondness for Winslow.
When I-40 bypassed the community many local businesses disappeared, tourism being among the hardest hit.
The Standin’ on the Corner Foundation was formed to create a renaissance of Winslow. Determined to build on tourism, the Foundation took advantage of the town being mentioned in the song “Take It Easy” by the Eagles. From 1997 until 1999, the foundation was busy finding donors and planning design concepts. On September 10 and 11, 1999 the park was opened to the public.
We didn’t stay very long. After we looked around a bit and took some photos with our phones, there just wasn’t much else to do there. We piled back into the van and went to the nearby truck stop, but the harsh anti-panhandling signs chased us out of there pretty quick.
Now I can say I’ve seen Winslow, and I don’t really ever need to go back.
Update: I did stop in Winslow again, on my way from Las Vegas to New Mexico. I stopped just long enough to hop out of the van and take the photos you see in this post.