Fan travels Route 66 for love of 'Highway Patrol' series

August 11, 2001

WILL MATTHEWS
Staff Reporter

UPLAND Upland resident Gary Goltz said he never missed an episode of the syndicated 1950s TV series "Highway Patrol" when he was growing up.

Goltz, who lived in Pittsburgh, remembers racing home from school to ensure he didn't miss the show, which was made in Hollywood but came to symbolize the efforts of highway-patrol officers across the country.

"I fell in love with California from that show," he said. "It was just a really tight 30-minute program. There was always lots of action, the crime was always solved, and justice was always served. It was a great show."

A half-century later, Goltz cruised through San Bernardino County en route to Claremont on Thursday in a replica of the patrol car driven by the late "Highway Patrol" star Broderick Crawford.

His appearance helped cap a 14-day journey from Chicago to Santa Monica along historic Route 66, a trip that Goltz said was meant to commemorate the route's 75th anniversary, to celebrate the old TV show and to garner support for highway-patrol officers.

"The California Highway Patrol is the greatest law enforcement agency in the world," Goltz said. "Just like the TV show depicted them, they are heroes. What they do every day deserves our respect and our support."

Goltz was accompanied to Claremont by Kelly Crawford of Pasadena, Broderick Crawford's son, who said the chance to live the TV life of his father was too much to pass up. "It's like finally getting the keys to Dad's car," Crawford said, adding that he also valued the opportunity to continue the show's tradition of promoting the CHP.

The show was great for the highway patrol because they were just getting started when the show was on the air, he said. "My dad generated a lot of publicity for them. If we can do the same thing, if we can support the CHP, that's what it's all about."

CHP Sgt. Timothy J. Maley said the old TV show helped inspire him to a life of law enforcement, and said he hopes that the trip Goltz and Crawford made has a similar effect on others. "I can't help but think that the show helped instill in me an interest in the CHP from a very young age," Maley said, It planted the seed. We're hoping in some way that this tribute to Route 66 will bring attention to the need to get some good young people to turn to the law enforcement profession."

For Goltz, who has an extensive collection of "Highway Patrol" memorabilia, Route 66 highlighted the importance of the highway patrol. "California Highway Patrol officers have patrolled Route 66 almost since it was established," Goltz said. "They are as much a part of the vintage history of Route 66 as anyone should be."