Imagine being a family-owned business on a major highway. Then one day the federal government takes all the traffic you depend on for your business and sends them elsewhere. Sends them onto a faster roadway with fewer stops. Not only do they do that, but for ten years after that, the government also ignores your pleas for help. So you watch your fellow business owners and family friends go broke, close up and move away.
If you are a man named Angel Delgadillo, you finally wake up one day and essentially say “screw this!” and you decide to find a way to bring some of that traffic back. In the process, you change lives, save businesses and start a worldwide phenomenon that grows larger every day. As the phenomenon grows, you step back and say “Look at all the wonderful things these people are doing!” (He’s that humble)
71 Years on Route 66
May 5, 2021, seventy-one years to the date Angle first opened his barber shop and pool hall on original US Route 66, I traveled to the little town of Seligman AZ, and sat down to talk with Mauricio Perez. He is the son-in-law of the guardian angel of US Route 66, Angel Delgadillo. If there was anyone who could give us a unique insight into the man and the myth of Angel Delgadillo, it would have to be Mauricio, and I was right!!
Angel in Quarantine
First off, I know a lot of my readers will be wondering. Have no worry about Angel, the 94-year-young Angel is playing it safe in quarantine, and as you will hear in this interview, enjoying spending his downtime with his wonderful wife and partner Vilma. We will be talking with him in a later episode. Social distancing or not!
A Unique Perspective
With the lack of what would normally be non-stop tour bus visits, I saw this as a unique opportunity to be able to sit down and have an unfiltered, leisurely conversation with Mauricio about what it is like to be part of the family business. Not just a family business, but THIS family business! It’s one thing to help manage a tourist gift shop, it’s another when that gift shop is also a museum and home base for the man who rescued an obsolete highway and turned it into an international tourist destination.
I always hate to use the word interview, because I try to make it more of a conversation. With me, my ADHD, and my stuttering, I have learned to use notes to try to stay on track, but even those don’t always work because there is always more to the story than the answers and the answers always spark new questions I want to ask. But I tried to keep it on track the best that I could. Tried to focus and keep it about a 71-year-old business and the 94-year-old man behind that business.
We also talked about what it’s like living and working on the most famous piece of asphalt in the world, and we even drifted into talking about what it’s like when your father-in-law is also the local purveyor of some well-earned wisdom. That would be Angel’s philosophy about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. After 71 years in business, he should know a thing or two about surviving life!
Mauricio, thank you for your time and gracious hospitality. It was fun to hear the stories and learn the real story behind the business, the man, and the now world-famous highway.
Want to listen to the interview? It’s on The Vegas Tourist podcast channel