Painting ©2018 John Clark III
Stress was killing Tennessee engineer Dennis Purschwitz when providence stepped in and a family road trip along good ol' Route 66 changed his life.
It was four years ago that Purschwitz and his wife were set to spend a week driving part of Route 66. They would drive from their home in Tennessee up to Chicago, then spend seven days driving as far south and west as they could, before turning around and heading back.
"We go to a small little church, and the weekend before we were going to leave, they were having a teen weekend and our daughter was doing the sermon, and of course we wanted to be there," Purschwitz, 55, explains. "Well, the week before that, they announced in church that there was a conflict and so they were going to have to push teen weekend back up a week.
"Now, instead of us leaving Friday at noon, we didn't get to leave until Sunday afternoon. So we opted to start the trip instead at St. Louis, which was only five-and-a-half hours away instead of almost 10 hours to Chicago."
On the final day of their journey, they wound up in tiny Adrian, Texas, just west of Amarillo, at the Midpoint Café. In the window was a for sale sign. Purschwitz was intrigued, his wife thought he was crazy, but for the past three years, he has been the proud owner of the historic Route 66 attraction, which has been in business since 1928, and sits exactly at what is considered the halfway point between the start and finish of this famous highway that was established in 1926.
"I had been looking to do something different with my life, before I got too old and stress put me in my grave" Purschwitz said today, as we sat in a corner booth of the remodeled joint famous for its "ugly" pies, coffee, sodas and hamburgers. "I'm not an overly religious person, but I believe in God and I believe there is a reason why everything happens, and I truly believe it was meant for me to come here.
"It's easier to step back and see it afterwards. To this day, nobody at the church can tell us why there was a conflict -- nobody knows. Had it not been for the conflict, we would have started in Chicago, and maybe made it to Tulsa or Oklahoma City before we had to turn around. We'd have never gotten this far, and never known this place was for sale.
"We got here 10 minutes before it closed on our last day, before we had to go back."
Now, the self-proclaimed roadie splits his year in half, spending the tourist season in Adrian and the winter months back in Tennessee. He has driven all but 150 miles of Route 66, and is enamored with the highway, which he calls one of the best "ambassadors" this country has ever had.
"We've had people from 54 different countries in here since April 1, and last year we had visitors from 72 different countries. People get to see the heartland of America, and the people who truly make this country great."
Indeed, while I waited for Purschwitz to finish composing an email he was sending to one of his consulting business clients, I spotted a number of people outside posing for photographs in front of the Welcome sign and plaza he built across the street.
Two of those friendly folks were Siep and Geri Woudstra of The Netherlands, a retired couple making their fifth visit to the United States. They have navigated the entire length of Route 66 in three different sections, and Geri says the prettiest section was through Missouri, while neither particularly enjoyed the trip across Illinois, between Chicago and St. Louis.
"We enjoy seeing all the history, and listening to the locals talk about it," the couple said.
After Adrian, it was on toward the New Mexico border and Tucumcari, where I found a grocery store for something to eat, and a nice place to lay my head for the night.
More later, I reckon ...
A few reviews of John's books
The 30-Day Optimism Solution:
“Part memoir, part informative text. You get both when reading 'Depression Blues' by John H. Clark III. Mr. Clark shares his struggles with depression in an honest and real way, and as the book progresses, so does his hope. Woven into the story as jumping off points are bits of information about depression and ways to "conquer" the sadness, loneliness, and despair that comes with it.
Mr. Clark becomes more than an author in this book; he becomes a friend who understands the pain of depression and provides light. I recommend this book to anyone looking for light or to anyone who knows someone with depression and wants to learn more.”
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