Photo spread of Polaroid photos and Route 66 curios.

photo by: Matthew Dickey

August 6, 2018

Finding Your Kitsch—and America—on 66

Picture this. Several tour buses are gathered on the street. Their deep engines are grumbling. They are lined up not to see the Grand Canyon, but a humble barber shop covered with stickers in Seligman, Arizona, along Route 66. Just as one of the buses rumbles off around a bend, it is replaced by the sound of a bicycle bell as 91-year-old barber Angel Delgadillo rolls up to his shop and glides to a stop. He has operated Angel’s Barbershop and Pool Hall since 1950 (now called Angel & Vilma’s Original Route 66 Gift Shop), and still occasionally cuts hair.

Angel is famous along Route 66. His town of Seligman was bypassed with the completion of Highway 40 in 1978. This small-town barber refused to let his town die. He formed the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and became its President. Now Arizona has preserved the longest stretch of Route 66.

I’m led to Angel’s office. Hundreds of aging business cards cover a mirror. His barber certificate, many awards, and foreign posters of Route 66 adorn the walls. He tells us to have some coffee as he takes a seat in his barber chair.

Angel speaks philosophically about Route 66. He gestures to punctuate his points like a conductor conjuring emotions of Americana. This raw passion for Route 66 is exactly what I saw at every stop along this ribbon of America. I was glad to have a Polaroid Snap Touch instant digital camera to document its history and architecture.

To read the rest of this story, head to our Route 66 road trip partners at Polaroid. Want to help us designate Route 66 a National Historic Trail? Sign the petition.

Note: Polaroid is a sponsor of the National Trust's Route 66 National Treasure campaign.

By: Matthew Dickey

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