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Page 191

California can’t say this, but in Barstow, you can see the stars. The Milky Way, even. When I was growing up the summer nighttime ritual was this: sun down, air conditioner off, windows open. After the racket of central air quieted, travel songs strayed on that starlit breeze: train syncopation. Freeway hum. I dreamed of the road or rail that would take me away from the desert and drive-thrus. Barstow’s Main Street saw its cultural and commercial heyday during the midcentury— Route 66’s golden age. By the time my family moved to Barstow in 1985, Old Town Main Street, U.S.A. had been in decline for decades. The interstates replacing Route 66 bypassed Old Town. Over time, shops closed, properties stayed vacant. Decent folks drove to the mall, vagrants and prostitutes wandered downtown. Browsing Old Town’s thrift shops and low-rent antique malls during my teenage days in the grungy 90s, I saw traces of Barstow’s more glorious past beside the shaded sidewalks, behind boarded windows and exposed brick walls. The faded Victorian glamour of the defunct Casa del Desierto Harvey House railroad depot stood as a ruin behind chain-link fencing, a crumbling reminder that brick and earthquakes don’t mix. A vote of confidence for drywall and stucco. Culture and history seemed wedded to one another in Barstow then, and both seemed to be decaying. I couldn’t imagine for Barstow any future beyond offramps, tract housing, and outlet malls. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, I only knew it wasn’t football and marching band, dirt bikes or the rodeo. I left Barstow when I graduated high school in 1996, certain it had nothing to offer me. 191

Profile for Mojave River Media

Mojave River Review - Summer 2014  

Our ekphrasis issue, featuring poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and hybrid literary works by dozens of brilliant poets and writers, including N...

Mojave River Review - Summer 2014  

Our ekphrasis issue, featuring poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and hybrid literary works by dozens of brilliant poets and writers, including N...

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