Peter Funt Peter Funt, 11/25/2014 [Archive]

Easy Does It

By Peter Funt

WINSLOW, Ariz. — "I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and such a fine sight to see: it's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin' down to take a look at me."

When the Eagles first sang that in the folk-rock anthem "Take It Easy" back in '72, they were enthusing about a vibrant town on Route 66, the iconic American highway. Soon after, Interstate 40 cut Winslow and places like it out of the loop. The dusty town got really quiet, really fast.

Some four decades later, two notable things have survived. One is a small park commemorating the song, on a corner in the center of town. It features a bronze statue of a guitar player and a mural depicting the girl in the Ford. Tourists who wander off the Interstate sit on the park bench for a photo and then cross the street to the gift shop for t-shirts and other Route 66 memorabilia.

The other thing that survived is pluck.

Unemployment here is double the national average, yet the rate of serious crime is remarkably low. The largest remaining employers, BNSF Railway and the Winslow State Prison, offer modest pay for hard work.

Winslow's character is chronicled three times a week in The Scoop, a publication that just barely qualifies as a newspaper but neatly reflects the spirit of this place.

Printed mimeograph-style in black ink on both sides of brightly colored legal-size sheets and stapled in one corner — looking like a school handout in pre-digital days — The Scoop is delivered for free to 4,500 homes and businesses. It's glue that holds the community together.

In a recent issue we see that the Falcon Restaurant has a pork chop and egg breakfast for $6.99. If you're able to pay cash, alfalfa can be had at The Corner Feed & Tack for $12.00 a bale. Sue at Whimsical Walls is available to paint festive designs on your windows in time for the holidays.

There's an item about how Winslow's public schools are struggling because of a 22 percent cut in state funding. Forty percent of kids here live in households where income is below the poverty level. Yet, 92 percent of students complete all four years of high school, giving Winslow one of the highest graduation rates in Arizona.

The Scoop reports that a BBQ Sandwich Benefit Dinner will raise money so 2-year-old Tristan Black can travel to Children's Hospital in Boston for treatment of a heart condition.

There's word of a chili dinner to benefit the high school's honor society. It's also reported that a "5K Glow Run/Walk" will raise money for the cross-country team. St. Paul's Church is having a free "Rice & Beans" distribution.

The annual food drive is Wednesday, and members of the Rotary Club and Winslow Elks are again going door-to-door to collect non-perishable food for the poor. The community blood drive is set for Thursday.

And so it goes, page after rainbow-colored page, in The Scoop.

It's Clarissa Anthony's 15th birthday. Len is celebrating 45 years of marriage to Beth, his "best friend." Kallam and Kayla Kruse of Winslow proudly announce the birth of Jenny May Kruse at the hospital in Flagstaff.

One telling statistic about this place is that the population of just under 10,000 is remarkably stable. Few people care to get on Interstate 40, or board Amtrak's Southwest Chief when it stops here each day, and move away.

That's something that Winslow, Arizona, has in common with many of America's independent, easily forgotten small towns. It's what the lords of the Interstate probably didn't understand, but the Eagles seemed to sense.

"Lighten up while you still can; don't even try to understand. Just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy."

——-

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, "Cautiously Optimistic," is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. © 2014 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author

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