I realize I’m dating myself here, but one of my fondest memories from early childhood is the TV series Route 66. I was too young to understand the nuances of the series — in fact, all I really remember is how cool I thought it would be to drive a Corvette across the country, coming to the rescue of sundry damsels in distress as I made pit stops along the way in towns inhabited by seriously damaged people. I had it in my head that I could grow up to be a modern day Lone Ranger, with Tonto, in the guise of Martin Milner or George Maharis, at my side, depending on my mood. I’d save people’s wretched lives, and then with a wink and a hearty “Hi-yo, little blue Corvette!” be off to my next hip adventure.
Even now, lifetimes removed from 1961 and black and white console TVs, a large part of me still likes to think it’s doable. After all, ‘Vettes actually have a bit of storage space in them now. I wouldn’t have to pack a full wardrobe in a couple of travel bags lashed to a minuscule luggage rack. I could store my formal wear in vacuum bags, and steam them when needed. And even in these tough economic times, I’d be able to find a temporary job in any field, regardless of experience — just long enough to mend a life, break a heart or two, eat in the best restaurants the town has to offer, and buy gas for the Vette.
Everywhere I’d stop, the local citizenry would understand that I’m just looking for meaning in American life, despite the dichotomy of searching for meaning in a brand new Corvette.
The point is, whether we’re five or fifty, or even 100, we have an inherent need to embrace the improbable, and mold it into our peculiar versions of reality. The DVD release Route 66: Season One, Volume Two reminded me how my version of America’s reality was shaped by television. I only received a four-episode sampler for review purposes, but it was enough to make me realize its iconic importance in television, and its role in making the Corvette an automotive legend.