Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome to Gallup's Zia Motel

Today I went in search of a piece of jewelry by an artist whose work I'd not seen. I located a representative sample of his good work which I fully intended to blog this afternoon even though I came up shy on his biographical information. Hunger struck as I was driving home along old Route 66 so I ducked into Taco Bell for a quick bean burrito. As I was waiting for my order I saw the above image across the street. I thought it very typical of main street Gallup and decided to make it the subject of my blog entry for today. Gallup is loaded with motel rooms. An influx of reservation dwelling Native Americans swell the population to double or triple size most weekends. Route 66 is lined with similar lodging. The familiar corporate chain facilities are heavily weighted on the ends of our elongated town. Old motels rooms near the center of Gallup typically rent for between 24 and 3o dollars a night. On any given day, I image you can find 10 to 30% of the rooms occupied with Native American involved in jewelry making. You can get a room at the Zia as pictured here for $30 a night or $180 per week, tax is included. Just a couple of blocks away on the Taco Bell side of the street you will find the El Rancho Hotel built in 1937. From the 30's to the 50's it served as a temporary home for many stellar Hollywood actors and as headquarters for dozens of Western film productions. El Rancho's lengthy famous guest list includes notables like John Wayne, Jane Wyman, Jackie Cooper, Kirk Douglas, and Spencer Tracy. I'll have to check to see if my personal old Western favorite, Richard Boone, best known for his role as Paladin, was ever a guest there. I do know that my fine barber's mother used to wait on Mr. Boone at the Eagle Cafe which is still in operation here. One morning he handed her a "Have Gun Will Travel" business card.

Please click on the image above for more pictorial detail. The woman in the image is dressed in fairly realistic traditional manner, but I've never seen an area Native American male outfitted as above and certainly never with an erect solitary head feather. Nonethess, I do think the cartoonish duo convey a fuzzy-warm welcome to Gallup, the Indian Jewelry Capital of the World.

Update: I checked when Sandy and I dined at the historic El Rancho Hotel in Gallup for lunch. Richard Boone aka Paladin never registered there. Perhaps he stayed at the Zia when in town.