Route 66 People: Remembering Gary

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Eigentlich können wir uns gar nicht an Gary erinnern, weil wir ihn nie kennen gelernt haben. Aber andere erinnern sich, die ganze Route 66 Community erinnert sich.


Gary Turner starb vor einem Jahr, am 23. Januar 2015. Gary war eine Route 66 Legende. Gary war der Mann, der die Sinclair Service Station (Gay Parita) in Paris Springs, Missouri wieder zum Leben erweckt hat. Aber Gary war auch der Mann, dessen Herz der Route 66 gehörte und der für jeden Reisenden, der bei ihm anhielt, ein offenes Ohr hatte, ein „very warm welcome“, der seine Geschichte erzählte, Fragen beantwortete, Zeit für Anekdoten und Gespräche über die 66 hatte. Jede Menge Zeit, wenn es sich ergab.
Wir sind im Mai 2015 in Paris Springs. Die hübsche, liebevoll restaurierte 30er-Jahre Tankstelle ist verlassen, von einem Zaun umgeben, der uns den Zutritt nicht möglich macht. Wir sind ein paar Monate zu spät. Gary hat die 66 Community verlassen.

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Im Jahr 1934 wird die kleine Tankstelle von Fred und Gay Mason erbaut und in Betrieb genommen. Fred benennt sie nach dem Vornamen seiner Frau. Zwanzig Jahre lang gehört die kleine Station in den Rolling Hills von Missouri zu den „favorite stops an der Route 66. Dann, im Jahr 1955, wird die Station ein Raub der Flammen.
Und es dauert lange, bis Gary Turner, der viele Jahre lang dicke Trucks durch die Lande gesteuert hat, auf der Bildfläche erscheint. Inzwischen pensioniert, kauft er die ruinierte Tankstelle und baut sie nach und nach wieder auf. Ein kleines Meisterwerk ist ihm da gelungen. Wer dort anhält, fühlt sich zurück versetzt in eine längst vergangene Zeit.
Andrew Evans von National Geographic Traveler hat ihn besucht. Hier ein Auszug aus seinem Artikel über Gary und Gay Parita:
But Gary is the opposite of intimidating. He offers me a cold root beer from his outdoor fridge, all the while telling me how business works on Route 66 functions today—how everybody on the road looks out for everybody else. “If you treat people right and I hear about it, then I send more people your way. But if you serve crappy food and have unfair prices, well then,” he pauses for effect. “You just won’t last.” He names an establishment in Oklahoma that I must avoid at all costs. “Worst hamburger I ever had,” he shakes his head, then swears. Gary’s wife Lena walks over and sits down next to him. “You’ll see—it’s a family, all of us on Route 66. When you get to Santa Monica, you’ll miss it and want to come back.” It’s a nice thought—how this defunct, 2,448-mile roadway connects a handful of people. Theirs is an unwritten constitution of solidarity and small business, a total abstinence from chain restaurants, and a mantra to care for the passing traveler. Sure, Gary’s selling stuff—he’s got a shop with T-shirts and Route 66 souvenirs, but all that is secondary to what he’s giving me now—real, genuine, old-fashioned human conversation. That part is free. *

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Uns bleibt bei unserem Besuch also nicht mehr, als Fotos zu machen, soweit das wegen des Zauns möglich ist. Von der Tankstelle, von dem alten 1941er Ford.
Ob sie je wieder eröffnet wird? Hoffentlich, denn sie gehört zur Route 66, so wie die vielen anderen „roadside remnants“ entlang der alten Mother Road.

“This road becomes part of you,” he says. “It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing, traveling through the history of this country.”

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* Quelle: Route 66 – Gary’s Gay Parita, by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler, 29. April 2014

Update April 2014:

Es gibt inzwischen gute Nachrichten, denn Gary’s Tochter hat die Absicht, das Werk ihres Vater fortzuführen:

Daughter revives Gary Turner’s Gay Parita Station

The daughter of Gary Turner reopened the much-loved Gay Parita gas station west of Halltown, Missouri, 15 months after its patriarch died at age 70.

Barbara Turner moved into her father and mother’s home behind the Route 66 landmark less than two weeks ago. She quit her longtime job as a theater manager and sold her home in Charleston, South Carolina, so she could return to Missouri.

:”I wanted to carry on Mom and Dad’s legacy,” she said by phone from where her father in the early 2000s re-created a Sinclair gas station that stood on old Route 66 from 1930 to 1955. Gary Turner, with his wife Lena, then charmed thousands of Route 66 travelers for the next decade with their hospitality and homespun character.

“I want future generations to see what he did,” Barbara Turner continued. “When people come to the station, I want them to know about my parents. He built this place from the ground up. This is what he wanted a 1930 station to look like.

“I felt it couldn’t die. I had to carry it on. And my dad would have done the same for me. I decided this was what I needed to do.”

She said Gay Parita won’t have full hours for a few more weeks because she’s still cleaning and sorting items there. She’s planning a grand opening in June or July, although she still is greeting tourists in the meantime.

“The word is spreading that I’m here, and lot of people have come here already because they’re so excited,” she said.

“Every day is getting better,” she added. “It’s coming to life again.”

She said she made up her mind to help her mother run Gay Parita after her father’s death in January 2015. But Lena’s health also declined, and she died at age 72 a few months later. Barbara Turner said it took time to sort out her parents’ estate (she now is sole owner of Gay Parita station) and organize the move from South Carolina.

He father was known for chatting with visitors from sunup to sundown. Many a Route 66 tourist often would find a planned 15-minute stop at Gary Turner’s Gay Parita station stretching to two to three hours.

Don’t expect Barbara Turner to be a taciturn new owner of the station.

“They call me ‘Little Gary’ because I talked all the time, like my Dad,” she said, laughing.

She said she expects Gay Parita to be largely the same, with one key difference — she’s planning a memorial garden for her father’s and mother’s cremains. She doesn’t have all the details worked out or even an exact location, except it would be someplace where the deceased Turners can “keep watch” over their station.

“I want it to be beautiful for the people who knew my Mom and Dad,” she said.

Quelle: Route 66 News, May 2016

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