Angel was born in a house on the main thoroughfare in Seligman, AZ, April 19, 1927 on Route 66. The dirt road out front was the main east-west artery and would become the paved Route 66 within a few years after his birth. His parents, Angel and Juanita Delgadillo, raised nine children, Angel being third from the youngest.
He and his siblings attended Seligman High School, with Angel graduating in 1947.
Angel and his brothers and sisters grew up watching the traffic flow by on America's Main Street. Angel grew up seeing the folks from the Dust Bowl Era driving by in their automobiles full of everything they owned. It was an amazing caravan of poor folks heading west, seeking opportunities to better their lives.
There were tough times for the Delgadillo family and at one time they, too, considered loading up the family Model T to follow the road to the sunset. But, they hung on.
Delgadillo Family Orchestra - 1948
Angel and his brothers and sisters started playing "Big Band" music at towns and cities all along Route 66. Their musical skills kept food on the table for the close-knit family.
Angel followed his father's career. He attended the American Pacific Barber College in Pasadena, Calif., on Route 66. He served his apprenticeship in Williams, Ariz., on Route 66, from 1948 to 1950.
Angel began shaving beards and clipping hair in Seligman in 1950 and continued through 1996. In 1996, he semi-retired.
In 1959, Angel Delgadillo and Vilma Rampelotto wed. They had four children, Angel III, Martha, Mirna, and Clarissa. They raised their children in Seligman.
On September 22, 1978, at 2:00 p.m., Angel Delgadillo the barber in Seligman, Ariz., watched his hometown begin to die when the Interstate Highway system replaced Route 66 as the primary means for automobile travel in the Western United States.
For Angel Delgadillo and many who worked and raised their families along the route, it was a sad day. Many stood on the quiet street, looking either way and realizing the world had forgotten them.
Seligman joined the list of death-row towns condemned by the very brand of progress that originally energized them - a new, faster highway system. Businesses closed, people left, buildings decayed.
There were talks of trying to attract industry to the town, but Angel Delgadillo had another idea. He was raised on Route 66. He watched caravans of farmers make their way along the road toward a new life in California. Angel knew the power of memory and myth, and he knew that the key to Seligman's survival ran down the center of town.
Angel was one of the moving forces in the founding of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and in 1987 successfully lobbied the Arizona Legislature to designate and preserve Route 66 in Arizona as an historic highway. Thereafter, following Arizona's lead, the seven states along Route 66 formed associations (California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois). At last count, there are seven international associations as well.
Angel has become the unofficial spokesperson and "Guardian Angel" for Route 66. He is passionate about preserving and promoting Route 66, its stories, and its memories so that it will no longer be forgotten.
Angel has retired from cutting hair, though he often obliges visitors. He and his wife, Vilma, sit in their dimly lit museum adjacent to the barbershop, listen to songs of the "Big Band Era" on a phonograph and greet visitors.
Now and then he walks outside, tilts his plastic visor against the blazing sun and looks down the Chino Street section of old Route 66 toward the Interstate 40 ramp. And he worries no more about people and roads that pass Seligman by.
New signs, new paving, and a nostalgia for small town Americana with its mom and pop burger shops, full-service gas stations and home town atmosphere all have contributed to the rebirth of Seligman as one of the most classic and charming Route 66 towns in the West.
A drive down Main Street Seligman today is a trip into the past with Angel's Barbershop, the Snow Cap Drive-In and the Copper Cart restaurant, just to name a few. The world-famous Snow Cap was owned and operated by Angel's brother, Juan Delgadillo, who was famous for having fun with unsuspecting tourists. Juan and Mary Delgadillo established the Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, Arizona in 1953 along Route 66. The building was built by Juan, along with his father and his brothers, out of scrap lumber he collected while working for the railroad. Juan retired from the railroad and worked everyday at the Snow Cap until the day he died, June 2, 2004 at the age of 88. Juan became well known through many magazines and newspaper articles as one of the co-founders of Historic Route 66. He was cherished by tourists for the antics he pulled on them while they were trying to order food and drinks.
The Snow Cap is perhaps one of the most wackiest, off-beat burger joints around. Many people will stop and say that the place is the same as it was when they came here as a young person. Today, visitors from Europe, Germany, Japan and other countries, as well as those from the United States seek the nostalgia of Historic Route 66 and the jokes that are famous at the Snow Cap. Juan's children, John and Cecilia, along with Juan's grandchildren continue the tradition of serving up a generous dose of humor along with some of the best red chiliburgers and tacos, not to mention great shakes and soft ice cream.
Angel and Vilma Delgadillo's memorabilia and barbershop attract thousands of visitors each year from all over the world - from families traveling through.
The building's décor hasn't changed in fifty years. It is filled with antiques, Route 66 memorabilia, an enormous business card collection and stacks of photo albums with pictures sent from visitors who immediately become part of the Route 66 legacy.