For nearly 40 years, Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe has helped people open pages to new chapters and new books by often allowing them to meet the authors and get their books signed.
The bookstore’s forthcoming author and book signing experience includes the appearance of a man who shows us what remains along an iconic highway — Historic Route 66.
Roger Naylor’s trip also takes us back to a simpler time when neon signs, roadside curiosities, motor courts and motels with swimming pools were all the rage for families on long road trips.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, author Naylor and photographer Larry Lindahl, will make their first East Valley book signing appearance at Changing Hands, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, signing what Naylor calls his first “real” book, “Arizona: Kicks on Route 66.” The 92-page softbound book ($11.95) was published by Rio Nuevo Publishers of Tucson and released in April. The book, which includes about 80 color and black and white photographs along Historic Route 66, includes stories and anecdotes of Arizona towns the Mother Road ran through with a map and a list of places to stop. It went into its second printing in June.
Naylor, 55, who lives in northern Arizona’s Verde Valley has made numerous trips in his 2001 champagne-colored Chevy S-10 pickup truck along Historic Route 66 — the highway that was born in 1926 and decommissioned during a bittersweet ceremony in Williams in 1985 when it was removed from maps and its highway signs were taken down.
“Arizona: Kicks on Route 66” provides a colorful look at what’s left of The Mother Road.
“I wanted people to see what still exists,” said Naylor, a 17-year resident of Cottonwood who left his native Cincinnati in the mid 1970s to begin attending Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. “People in Arizona know it for the Grand Canyon and Sedona, but they don’t know it much for Route 66. It symbolizes a sense of freedom and a return to a simpler time. It’s still an unbelievable trip through one of the last frontiers of the Wild West and mid-century Americana with a scenic backdrop that’s head and shoulders above other stat es.” Larry (Lindahl) took a lot of really great pictures that capture that.”The book also is available at most Barnes and Noble bookstores throughout the Valley and at Sibley’s West: The Chandler and Arizona Gift Shop at 72 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler.
At Changing Hands, Naylor and Lindahl will discuss their six-month book project that began in April 2011 and answer questions, a continued intimate experience with the authors that has become a staple at Changing Hands. The independent bookstore hosts more than 300 book and reading-related events each year.
“I’d say these book-signing events are more important now than they ever were,” said Brandon Stout, marketing manager for Changing Hands. “In my view, it’s something that can’t be replaced regardless of the format you read in. If you want to meet the person of a piece of work you admire, Changing Hands is the place to be as we continue to bring readers and writers together.” “You can shake the author’s hand; it’s a human connection,” Stout added. “It’s an experience you can’t get online.”
And the same goes for getting in a car and making your way to Historic Route 66
Some of Naylor’s favorite places along the Mother Road include Cool Springs, 25 miles west of Kingman, the Hackberry General Store and the Grand Canyon Caverns, where he experienced sleeping in a motel room 220 feet underground while watching the 1955 sci-fi movie, “Tarantula.”
There have been numerous books published on Route 66 in the last few decades, so what makes Naylor’s and Lindahl’s any different?
Naylor, who has written stories for Arizona Highways Magazine, was quick to point out that there were not any Route 66 books out there covering just the Grand Canyon State despite Arizona having the longest unbroken stretch of Route 66 — 158 miles from west of Ash Fork to the border of California and 200 miles of Route 66 overall. The book also features homemade “pie alerts” telling where one can find cafes and diners that sell slices of homemade pie along the way when travelers want to slow down.
Naylor said Route 66 had first caught his attention in the mid 1970s when he was traveling through Seligman and noticed that there were four tour buses along the short Seligman strip, each filled with people speaking a foreign language.
It was there that he met famed barber Angel Delgadillo and realized the history of the once busily-traveled road and how the people and characters along it made the world a better place.
And, thanks to Angel Delgadillo, whose brother, Juan, owned the famed Snow Cap Drive-in in Seligman where Route 66 was born, Angel had enough insight to start movements to preserve the history of the highway that was built at the time to increase commerce and travel through smalltown America.Naylor, a former stand-up comic in Ohio, who wrote humor columns and compiled them for a couple of books, takes Route 66 and its people seriously. Many of those people are pictured in the book, showing them working in the places that survived the test of time, but also sharing humor.
“They know how important the history of Route 66 is, and protect it,” Naylor said. “Neon signs along Route 66 aren’t being removed; they’re being restored. Buildings aren’t being torn down; they’re being restored.”
“Route 66 still is an unbelievable place to explore,” Naylor added. “I wanted to write about it and the places along it in such a way that people would want to get in a car and drive there.”
And on Tuesday, East Valley residents, who may have been talking about taking “that trip” along Route 66, can start by getting in their car and driving to Changing Hands Bookstore.
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