Originally posted to the Oklahoma Route 66 Association blog on 11/7/19
When it was announced this summer that the contents of Afton Station were going to be auctioned off, I was tremendously sad. Afton Station had been a great asset to Route 66, not just in northeast Oklahoma but throughout all 2400+ miles. It wasn’t just the old D-X station and the impressive Packard automobile collection inside that endeared it to everyone, but it was owner Laurel Kane and her loyal volunteers that really set the place apart.
I didn’t know Laurel very long, but we became friends in record time. In fact, it was Laurel that stood on the stage at Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom in 2015 and served as the officiant in my wedding. Her unexpected passing in early 2016 was a real heartbreak, both for me personally and for the Mother Road at large. I feared that Afton Station was not long for this world without her passion in residence. The shop and museum remained open for a time, but when David Kane also passed suddenly in late 2018 that was the end of the road.
On June 29th 2019, the day of the auction, I took the day off work and drove up to Afton. I hoped to secure some artifacts for the Oklahoma Route 66 Association and perhaps a small something for myself. Alas, my pockets were not deep enough to compete with the likes of Barrett-Jackson auctions out of Arizona and a few of the other attendees. I left that day disappointed on many fronts.
Imagine my surprise when I received a message in late August telling me that the item I most wanted to secure for Oklahoma Route 66 was once again available: the Bob Waldmire U-Haul Truck.
Bob Waldmire was an artist and who I consider to be the prototypical Roadie. He spent a lot of time wandering the country (especially Route 66) creating artwork and speaking out in support of preservation. He turned the vacant Hackberry General Store into a Route 66 destination in the 1990s and was the inspiration behind the Volkswagen Microbus character ‘Fillmore’ in Disney/Pixar’s Cars.
In 2008, Bob painted a giant mural on one side of an old U-Haul truck for Ken and Marian Clark of Tulsa. According to Ken, Bob originally used the truck to move some items from Illinois (where his family runs the Cozy Dog Drive-In) to his off-the-grid home on the New Mexico/Arizona border. The truck was donated to the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, but they ended up not having room for it. In 2012, it was given to Afton Station, where it sat until this summer.
The Oklahoma Route 66 Association is so proud to announce that this artifact has been secured in Chelsea, Oklahoma: Project Chelsea has stationed it near the restored Pedestrian Underpass. Travelers and roadies can continue to experience this beautiful work by one of Route 66’s most enduring artists.
Many thanks to Sylvie Kane, Samantha Extance, and Route 66 Germany for their donations that made this possible. Thanks also to Pam Stanbro and Project Chelsea for coming together and taking stewardship of this treasure. Through continued donations and support, we hope to restore the truck to working order and potentially restore the faded parts of Bob’s artwork. One step at a time…
The next time you’re in Chelsea, stop by and take a selfie with this one-of-a-kind Route 66 Artifact and tag #ok66!
One thought on “The Waldmire U-Haul”
Wow, Rhys! What a treasure! So glad that it found a great home. Just finished my YouTube about Illinois Route 66 and it has quite a bit of about dear Bob. My channel is Phyllis Grey and the video is Route 66 Road Trip Ghosts and Treasures in Illinois. Thank you for all you do. I am anxious to visit Tulsa next season. There is so much going on their with 66!