Finding the Old Roads
My birthday week was spent at the trails office. I brought everyone local donuts to celebrate. I think we all were extra happy that day from all the sugar in our blood. I have to say though, that week was pretty memorable because I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting that changed my world view. Willie Lambert walked into our Albuquerque office with eight binders of postcards, pictures, and hand drawn maps of his research from the past eleven years. He spends a lot of time reading books and maps about Route 66 and goes out on New Mexico highways to retrace and to find these sections that are weathering away and forgotten.
Willie explained to us his mapping process, and it’s a daunting task. He has no professional training in drafting but his line work is quality. I was inspired by his hard work, but mostly motivated to help him tell his story. I was asking myself, who is going to understand this work once Willie isn’t around? Who is going to explain the stories, photographs, and who will map the turnoffs for possible routes on the 66? There is a huge need to document resources like what Willie has created.
Route 66 is not designated as a historic trail, but it needs to be! So much work is being done to retell stories along the other historic trails, but it is too late to talk to people who have personal accounts on these trails. Route 66 is exclusive because it still has living history. I left that meeting alarmed at the lack of resources available to preserve this history. I found a passion within to somehow preserve history for others to experience. A huge part of why cultures are preserved are because of the shared stories, but communication has evolved beyond sit-down conversation and handwritten material. I am now asking myself the question, in what way can I contribute to the preserving of stories and culture, making it accessible to people in today’s time? I only know vaguely: digitally, and with a lot of research and time. I see graduate school in my future to find this out!