AMARILLO, Texas — Wherever he is, Stanley Marsh 3 is smiling approvingly at what is happening to his roadside creation just west of this Texas Panhandle city.
My first stop on my westward journey was to a place with which I am familiar, as we lived in Amarillo for 23 years before relocating a few years ago to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
I use the word “familiar” with caution, because what I saw today bore little resemblance to what I have seen on countless visits to Cadillac Ranch, the attraction featuring 10 Caddies buried nose down in the dirt.
What is happening to Cadillac Ranch is that it is becoming the kind of “roadside attraction” that could translate to serious cash for the community.
The frontage road in front of the Ranch along Interstate 40 was packed with vehicles from many states. I saw license plates from Tennessee, Washington, California, Missouri, Oklahoma. That was just a fraction of the vehicles parked alongside the highway.
The wind was howling (of course!). A concession stand was peddling spray paint cannisters. One woman walking toward the Caddies reminded me that she needed to keep her back to the 50 mph gusts.
I purchased an overpriced ball cap inscribed with “Cadillac Ranch, Est. 1974, Amarillo, TX.” I told the kid hawking the caps that he was “quite proud of them,” to which he said he has told the owners they are overcharging for the merchandise.
I am not privy to what Stanley Marsh had in mind when he buried the Cadillacs nose-first in ’74. However, I cannot help but think he would be happy as the dickens at what has transpired since he came up with the kookie notion.
One of my sons believes that when Stanley was alive he was using Cadillacs as antennae to communicate with space aliens. You know what? Knowing the strange, rich guy as I did, I would put nothing past him. Nothing!
But … he’s no longer among us. We are left now to applaud the growing attraction of Cadillac Ranch to visitors from far away.
Stanley would be proud.