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  • Writer's pictureDavid B Photography

Learn to listen to understand instead of listening to respond

When I worked in the corporate world, we would be sent to all of these different seminars with the intent of making us better workers and of course more productive. This was a saying from one of those seminars.

The other day I saw a post come up about Erick, Oklahoma and a place called the Sandhill Curiosity Shop. The photo that accompanied the post showed this amazing place filled with old Route 66 memorabilia and I thought it was well worth the 2 hour drive from the house just to go take a look.

The town of Erick is very small, less than a thousand people call this place home, and the only industry there are Ranchers, doing their part to feed America. However their real claim to fame is being right on old historic Route 66, what a major piece of Americana.

When I arrived in town I traversed the handful of streets that make up this whistle-stop and the Curiosity shop stood out from all of the other buildings. In fact it was impossible to miss, the outside of the building has signs all the way around that read, Route 66 and Mobil Oil, Texaco, Sunoco just to name a few. I walked up to the front door anxious to get inside, but quickly discovered it was closed, disappointment set in but it was not a wasted trip because of the major pieces of history on the outside.

I walked around the building taking in the sites and saw a man with blue jean overalls and long white beard shuffling his way toward me from across the street, he came up to me extended his hand and said; I'm Harley this is my place, do you wanna go in? When he opened the door and I stepped in to the dimly lit place filled with history. The signs on the outside only told part of the story, there were guitars all over the shop, and easily three inches of dust on every flat surface and showcase which housed any kind of knick-knack that told you about the Mother Road. Harley said, go ahead take a look around snap all of the pictures you want, he quickly lit up a bit of ditch weed and as he toked he told me about his shop and the people who have come to visit. In one of the showcases I could see what looked like and old napkin with a familiar image scribbled on it. It was Lightning Mcqueen from the Disney movie Cars, I asked where he got that from and he said the guys from Pixar had been there several times taking pictures and shooting video all around his shop so they could use things in his place in the movie. He had the movie poster autographed sitting in a frame on his wall, Harley was quick to say, those guys were a lot of fun.

I knew from the moment I met Harley that I had to get his photo, he was so unique and such a great character he was truly one of those once in a life time type of people you meet. He then picked up his Gibson guitar sat down on the stool in the middle of the room and started to strum, as he regaled me with story after story of the people who have been in his shop and of course the Mother Road herself. The shop was so dark it had only a couple of old desk lamps and one overhead florescent light that was buzzing almost to the point of distraction. I grabbed the flash out of my bag cranked the ISO to 800, pointed the flash at the ceiling and pulled it as far away from Harley as my arm would reach and fired off a couple of frames.

I didn't talk much while I was there, for fear of screwing up the mood, have you ever been transfixed by something? This character before me had captured my attention and the only thing I could do was stand there in awe. It truly is better to listen to understand than to respond.

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