Paul McCartney Sighted in Arcadia!
It’s true! Singer, Paul McCartney, was actually sighted by Arcadia resident, Toby Thompson. The scene unfolded like this: Toby was weeding in a culvert next to the road near historic Route 66. He was covered in mud, wearing a t-shirt and calf-high socks with his work boots. “I looked like a goofball hillbilly,” Toby said.
A 1989 Ford Bronco, color green, pulled up alongside the ditch. The passenger window rolled down, so Toby went to offer his assistance—and the world-famous Paul McCartney asked how to get back onto Route 66. Toby assured him and his then-future bride, Nancy Shevell, that they were driving along the original Old Highway 66 from the 1920s, but they were probably seeking the newer, nearby Route 66 from the 1950s.
“Are you who I think you are?” Toby asked. “Probably.” was the answer.
That was in August of 2008, but Toby vividly recalls that moment when he met one of his musical heroes—and that he didn’t get an autograph.
Although Toby lacked proof of his celebrity encounter, the likelihood of his story was confirmed as other people made sightings, which included McCartney’s overnight stay at the Skirvin Hotel downtown. Not that Toby told many people, because announcing that you’ve just spoken with one of the Beatles “is like saying you saw a UFO.”
He did, however, tell his neighbors Jim Ross and Shellee Graham, Route 66 historians—and that came into play 12 years later. But first, why was Paul McCartney spotted in Arcadia, Oklahoma? He was traveling Route 66 for his 66th birthday, of course! (And probably choosing not to focus on his memories of 1966, as that year was the Beatles’ last U.S. tour, which ended rather badly).
Meanwhile, Toby’s neighbor, Shellee Graham, “percolated” on the McCartney sighting for several years. She reached out to county commissioner, Kevin Calvey, for permission to install a road sign marking the exact spot where McCartney’s green Ford stopped that day. Calvey approved, thinking it was fun and touristy.
Toby was on-hand for the sign installation on November 16, 2020, and happily shared his story. Linda Simonton of the Arcadia Round Barn got busy looking through visitor log books to see if Paul McCartney might have signed in that day in 2008. Sadly, “three searches by three different people” came up empty, but she is optimistic that he probably did stop without signing in. Unlike Toby, Linda does have Paul McCartney’s autograph, because she once bid for a signed copy of the Abbey Road record and won. It hangs on her wall.
So now, Route 66 tourists have yet one more roadside stop along the mother road. After all, isn’t stopping to take photographs at quirky and nostalgic sites the whole point? Just know that if you drive east past Pops and the Arcadia Round Barn, you’ll need to start looking for Hiwassee Road. Turn south and travel about 300 yards. The sign will be on your left.
If you’re lucky, you might see a man in long socks pulling weeds along his property. Ask him, “Are you who I think you are?” He’ll say “probably,” and then he will tell you about his brush with fame first-hand.