The “Guardian Angel” of Route 66 – Angel Delgadillo
Este artigo pode ser também encontrado em Português.
I had a unique opportunity in Seligman, a small town in the state of Arizona with only 456 residents, yes, that’s it! Today, Seligman is mostly known due to this sweet old man at the age of 84, who works every day in his barber shop, cutting hair and shaving not only its few local residents, but people from all over the States and the world, including myself, his new client. Once I got there, I had to wait 4 Dutch tourists from a group on Harleys also driving on Route 66 – they just decided to meet him as well… And the best of all: Mr. Delgadillo did his job with a sweet smile and joy, as he was doing it for the very first time!
In 1978, the nearby Interstate 40 opened and traffic through the town virtually disappeared. As a result, without cars going through its main street, the majority of establishments had to shut down. Mr. Delgadillo felt he needed to do something as the government didn’t seem to care about their situation, plus in 1985, Route 66 was delisted from the United States Highway System, affecting the dreams of many of those that made the Mother Road their living.
Because of people like Angel Delgadillo, who carries the motto – “never take no for an answer”, he founded the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, being followed by other organizations also founded in the neighboring states with the similar goal: keeping Route 66 alive. So he got attention from state government that some time later, passed a bill recognizing the now “Historic Route 66”. Today it has spread from Chicago to Los Angeles.
What really rejoiced me was to see an eighty-four year old man saying that he didn’t ever look his job as work, but as a pleasure. Each client for him is like doing for the first time, like today is the first day on his career, and he also says he still has so much to learn. What a life lesson, what joy of living, how much teaching for just one day!
While researching the history of Route 66 for the 2006 Disney-Pixar motion picture Cars, John Lasseter, Disney’s Chief Creative Officer met Delgadillo, who told him about his life and passion for the road and Seligman’s agony, after the Interstate’s inauguration. Well, let’s say that everything served as an inspiration for the motion picture, one of Disney-Pixar blockbusters of all time.
When he was finishing up with me, I asked if he or Seligman’s residents were feeling any impact with the economy’s downturn nowadays and he promptly answered that, after all hard work for engaging the local society on creating Route 66 as a Historical Road, there was no such a thing as recession or anything similar, which made all sense to me as I was able to see a very small town full of tourists, shopping, eating, taking photos, spending the night in local hotels and so on.
“Never take no for an answer”… That’s what America and Brazil really needs.
Watch the links below on Route 66’s story taken from Disney-Pixar’s motion picture and Angel Delgadillo’s story: