Revisiting — “If it were a snake…”

January 11, 2015

A friend asked me a couple days ago if I knew Ron–the Ron at Daggett Airport.. A bunch of lovely memories returned, so thought I’d share again …

“If it were a snake, it would have bitten you!” is one of my grandmother quotes I still remember with loving fondness. Along the same line, my husband and I have a modern day quip pertaining to finding stuff right in front of us. We call it, “refrigerator blindness.” You know, when you can’t see the mayonnaise on the shelf right in front of your eyes, or the keys you’ve looked over twice on the desk…

The Barstow-Daggett Airport has been boldly sitting under my nose since I moved to the desert, and I’ve driven by it on Route 66 and I-40 hundreds of times—but never taken the time to stop and look. Shame on me! Recently, hooray, with my two friends Janice Maloney[1] and Mary McGee[2], I enjoyed another “Route 66 day.” This time, right in my own backyard.

At Airport Entrance

First off, I didn’t realize how large the airport actually was—over a 1,000 acres. The airport’s history is interesting and goes back to 1933. Built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the army to modify A-20 “Havoc” light bombers. There’s great information on the internet and in Route 66 books by various authors, including details on current military (helicopter) and commercial activities. But what I like most of all about going to Route 66 points of interest is talking to the people!

So far, everywhere we’ve gone, and without exception, there’s been a palpable passion for The Mother Road, a generosity of spirit of owners/operators/greeters, all delivered with an underpinning of warmth easily shared with inquisitive strangers (like me and my friends!) We also went to the Barstow Route 66 museum the same day, and Debra (a prime example of the Mother Road spirit), as always was most welcoming!

Al and Ron

And at the Barstow-Daggett Airport, Al and Ron, Daggett Aviation Inc., couldn’t have been nicer and more generous with their time. I left in awe. The historical wall pictures and artifacts, the memorabilia, and the stories and pictures of helicopters, airplanes, and celebrity adventures—WOW! Thanks, Al and Ron, it was a great visit. If you find yourself cruising this piece of Route 66, The Barstow-Dagett Airport is a peek not only into the past, but a look at a valuable  piece of current day Mojave infrastructure.

And once again I’m reminded what amazing feats amazing people have done before us–and continue to do.

I wonder….

For my mystery-writing friends–on the airport property there is also a no longer operating community pool in the shadow of a huge, and also no longer used hanger. Law abiding as I am, I couldn’t take a picture of the hanger. Nonetheless, fictional mayhem involving that pool and hanger are a-brewing in my imagination…

“Rulers of the Pond”

Well, we didn’t run into any snakes, but there is a pond, and the pond “rulers”— large flocks of geese (several kinds), and ducks (again, many varieties) came to “greet” us.  For me, it’s the unexpected that makes exploring Route 66 so special!

[1] Owner/Operator of Mojave Gourd and Pepper Farm

[2] One of the last two teachers at Amboy, CA school before it closed, and current owner of historic Whiting Bros Gas Station on Route 66.


Memories. And I think I need another Route 66 adventure soon!!


7 Responses to “Revisiting — “If it were a snake…””

  1. mmgornell said

    Thank you, Mark, for stopping by! Your having lived at the airport really makes my visit even more special. I have to pass it often on my way into civilization–live farther out in the Mojave! Sent you a Facebook friend request. Again, thanks for stopping by!


  2. I lived on the Daggett Airport as a kid from 1961 – 1966. We lived in Quarters 44. All of the family’s that lived there at that time were with the FAA. I went swimming in the pool everyday in the summer. Thank you for taking the time to write about your visit.

  3. mmgornell said

    Sorry it’s taken me sooooo long to reply, having computer issues…sigh.

    Marilyn, as always, thanks for stopping by. Yes, I’d pass it often, finally a couple years back we made a point to visit! It was fun.

    Jake, so good to hear from you, and really, really appreciate you are following my writing. Latest book is with editors finding all my gliches! Alas, it doesn’t mention this airport, but it does get a mention in Counsel of Ravens if I remember correctly–of course I still have time to put mention in my current one…

    Hi Rusty, yes Mary McGee has shared stories with me. Especially about Buster Burris (sp) I believe there’s actually a book in Amboy? Not sure on that. Mary doesn’t do computer stuff. I will email you privately.

    Oh Marja, you are just the person to appreciate how there’s inspiration all around us, just need to let our minds go. I spend too much time mentally dealing with everyday life instead of “letting the imagination fly!” Thanks for stopping by.


  4. I’ll be interested to see how you use this trip in a book, too. It seems like there inspiration all around us, if we’ll just open our eyes and look for it.

  5. rustyl01 said

    Hi Madeline,

    I’m curious, after reading your blog post today, has Mary McGee shared anything about her adventures teaching school in Amboy? Is she a writer as well? I’d like to find out more.

    Thanx for the Daggett info. I’ve been out to Solar One back in the 80s while writing news for my local paper, but never took the time to see the airport. However, I do know that one of the regular weather stations is placed at Daggett airport for national weather feeds to ABC and NBC among others.

    Rusty LaGrange

    Editor of The Inkslinger

    High Desert Branch of

    the California Writers Club


    “There’s nothing tougher to edit than a blank page.”

    —- John Forde, copywiter

  6. Jake said

    Great post. Have passed for years but now have on my must stop list. Look forward to your book using this trip.

  7. marilynm said

    I’ve always wondered about that airport, thanks for writing about it.

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