Hobby becomes way of life for Eagle Point man

Cover of Campanelli's book about his journey along Route 66
Cover of Campanelli’s book about his journey along Route 66

A half dozen or more years Michael Campanelli started coming to my office from time to time with photos  he had taken, often it was to announce he would have a display at the Eagle Point Senior Center during the 4th of July. And then one day he announced he was leaving to take Route 66 from its beginning to its terminus.
    

Since that initial trip he would stop by to tell me he was off to hang
an exhibit in some locale most of us never heard of. And then one day,
he was invited to hang his amazing photographs in  places that drew
attention and certainly kudos.
   
Several months ago he came in
to show me a proof of the book that would soon be published. And then,
about a month ago he arrived with the real thing.
   
This is a
story of Michael Campanelli, a guy who painted houses for 25 years with
a wife whois a former employee of  School District 9. This is about
someone who was able to fulfill a dream and perhaps then some as he not
only is an accomplished photographer, he has done something most just
talk about- he has published a book.
   
Campanelli has no
professional photographic training, but he certainly has energy,
dedication and determination. He left on an eight day journey on a road
he’d only heard of, that sometimes really wasn’t much of a road,
through some towns that existed mostly by name. He and his 35 mm Pentax
camera took some 1100 photos during those eight days and nights, from
Santa Monica to Chicago, a trip of 2400+ miles. All but 400 miles of
Route 66 are still driveable.
   
The journey took him through
big cities and ghost towns and through an Oklahoma town by the name of
Clinton, named for the founding family (and relatives of a  relation on
my late husband’s side.)
   
Not only does he have memories as
bright as the many old neon lights that still pave the way, he has
photographs that make you feel you are right there. 
   
In
addition to his wife, Sue, who the designed the book, Campanelli is
most appreciative of Total Camera, and their staff and Chris Sloan, who
did work there and now can be reached at oregonhorsenter.com and EPHS
graduate, Jessie Gifford, who designed and maintains his web page.
     
The
photographs Campanelli selects for display are blown up by Total Camera
to 20×30 or  24 x 36 inches. There is a large display in Pontiac, Ill. 
Campanelli has several book signings planned including one Feb. 8- Ride
for the Relay Banquet, Hamilton’s East, Jacksonville, Illinois; May 2
and 3- at the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac, Ill. for
the annual Red Carpet weekend with his Virtual Tour of Route 66. In
addition to Campanelli’s exhibit, one will find over 1,000 artificats
from the route on display. June 25-28 he will be back in Pontiac for
Walldogs visit and Heritage Days where 17 downtown murals are to be
painted.
   
I spent the last of my elementary years through
high school growing up in New Mexico. While it was not on Route 66, the
pictures of crumbling adobe houses and businesses, old cars and dryland
certainly brought back memories. Campanelli  has what I would call
almost an obession with Highway 66, much as my father had an obession
with getting Fort Union, north of my hometown, recognized. It is now a
national monument, partly due to his effort. Like my father, Campanelli
is preserving Route 66 for generations to come.
   
His table
top book is available at The Fishin Hole in Shady Cove and at
Bloomsbury Books in Ashland. Or, call Michael or Sue at 826-9052 to
place your order.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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