Bob Walton '70 '77 MA
Walton and his friend, Sal Santoro, drove the length of historic Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles in Walton’s 1968 Cadillac de Ville during the summer of 2009, keeping journals and taking photos along the way. When they left for their trip, the pair had no intention of writing a book. They compiled their pictures into a slideshow to show friends and family once they returned to New Jersey. Friends who watched the slideshow encouraged them to write a book about their adventure. Bob and Sal, not afraid of the daunting task, decided to do it. And so, after two years of long days writing, editing, rewriting and formatting, Route 66: The People, The Places, The Dream was released in July 2012 – all 260 pages and 2.5 pounds of it. It was “very gratifying,” Walton said when the book was released. “It’s exciting! When you open that first case of books, there’s that inky smell and it’s a thrill to see you and your car on the cover. We got very nice reviews.” More information about the road trip and the resulting book can be found at route66cadillacguys.com.
As a kid growing up in Clifton, Walton enjoyed watching “Route 66,” a popular television show about two men traveling along the iconic highway. Route 66, one of the original highways in the US Highway System, symbolizes fun, nostalgia and freedom to many Americans. When Bob met Sal through the Cadillac Club of North Jersey, they found that they both wanted to explore it for themselves.
Walton majored in Music Education with a concentration in vocal music at Montclair State College. Music Education is a demanding major and ate up almost all of Bob’s free time. Dr. Jack Sacher was one of his favorite professors as well as his graduate advisor. Dr. Sacher was very professional and expected a lot from his students. Earning an A in one of his classes was a mark of hard work and dedication – they weren’t easy to get. Walton took several classes with him, including Conducting and Music History.
After he graduated, Walton served in the US military before starting a career in the Bergenfield school district. He began as a music teacher at Roy W. Brown Middle School before transitioning to a classroom teacher in one of the district’s elementary schools. There, he taught a wide variety of classes over the years: 1st, 2nd, 4th grade and basic skills. “When you change, it’s challenging and refreshing,” Walton said about his diverse teaching background. “Change is invigorating.”
After over 37 years in the classroom, Bob retired. At first, it was difficult to adjust to life without an alarm clock, but now he’s spending his days doing what he loves. He’s doing events with the Cadillac Club of North Jersey and promoting Route 66: The People, The Places, The Dream. “We’ve done a lot of publicity for this book,” he said. The pair is going to do an interview with Jay Leno this April and visit Leno’s garage where he keeps his collection of rare, vintage and sports cars. He also drove his 1968 Cadillac in the Barton, Vermont Cadillac Parade. Three miles worth of Cadillacs, old and new, took the Guinness World Record for the longest Cadillac parade. Walton has traveled to 33 states in that car.
Walton has never been one to back down from a challenge. “Follow your strengths, work on your weaknesses, use your strength, and try to improve,” he said. “Our goal was to write a book of which we could be proud. We’ve achieved it, and then some.”