Someone actually sent me an email saying it was only 27 more Fridays till Christmas! I was just reveling in the fact that our beautiful, lush Illinois green is back in full swing and then someone wants to talk winter! Really!
The Mother Road is alive and kicking with festivals, concerts, music and more in Illinois! We just completed our Motor Tour and we had a great three days in the sun and fun. The crossing of the Chain of Rocks Bridge was great! We had people join us who have done all of 66, Chicago to LA and never, ever, went over the bridge until they met us! We missed many of our original Association members who did not make the trek this year, but we had them in our thoughts and prayers as we crossed over the bridge.
A big thank you to Elaine Stonich, Lenny Scinto, John and Kathy Miller, Rosie Vargo, Marge and Don Johnsen, Diane and Steve Nalefski for their assistance on registration for the Motor Tour. A big Thank You to Marty Blitstein for holding down the fort for the three months prior to the tour, and answering questions, taking the phone calls, coordinating the ads for the passport, making a list and checking it three times, and making registration so easy. Thanks to Emmy and Debbie Bates for amazing stops, their artful decorating at the Hall of Fame banquet in Lincoln, and working the Illinois side of the Bridge with me on Monday Morning. Another thank you to Kathy Miller for taking everyone’s photo as they arrived on the Missouri side. Thank you to John Wille and Jim Jones for staying behind and manning the Hall of Fame and Museum so that our facility could be open. Illinois Harley Davidson in Countryside was an amazing host and not only provided pop and water for Friday night, but set out a dazzling display of coffee and sweet rolls for Saturday’s send off. They filmed the cars leaving and posted it online. Special thanks to Duke Cartwright for arranging the drive thru at Stateville. Duke has also been our dinner-moderator for years. We’re not quite as large as his former employer (Duke handled the eating/seating schedule at Stateville) but we so appreciate his making sure the dinner buffet line runs smoothly and we’re all taken care of before he sits down to dinner himself.
While we’re waiting for Illinois to get a budget, our museums and Route 66 displays could use a visit and a donation. We are blessed with people who are proud of their regions and work hard to provide a glimpse of yesterday to curious travelers. On our tour the Carbon Hill school museum was highly talked about, as was the Heritage in Flight Museum and The Mill in Lincoln. My favorite quote was from Mike Cummings who said how nice it was to go to the Mill and not work! Twelve years in the making and it was so worth it! The late Ernie Edwards, who pushed Geoff Ladd to pursue the Mill would be so proud!
The awesome Williamsville Public Library and webcam directional sign are so cool! The town’s 66 displays on their businesses (and also a nice history of Williamsville’s own Hall of Fame members Sharon and JR Fawn) are phenomenal.
When you’re out on the road, look inside our 66 towns for their history. I was told by multiple museum volunteers that anything from their community would be appreciated as a donation – matchbooks, ash trays, pens from long gone gas stations, calendars, etc. I grew up with nattily uniformed attendants who filled your tank, washed your windows, checked your oil and were courteous and polite. I remember family members getting dishes, glasses, and all kinds of “perks” for buying at certain gas stations, calendars, pens, hot pads!
If you have any of these in your collections, think about donating them back to their appropriate historical societies or museums.
There will be a relighting ceremony on July 3rd at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook. The Tropics sign is on its way to the Ace Sign Company in Springfield for reconstruction and eventual replacement in the new McDonald’s parking lot in Lincoln. Dave Tucker’s Gillespie Mining Museum continues to grow. The spaceship in Divernon has been taken down and soon will be replaced by the largest wood swing on 66! Rich Henry and his rabbits are welcoming visitors as usual at the Ra66it Ranch in Staunton.
This summer I urge you to look around. Even the smallest communities have historical societies or food pantrys. Find out what you can do to help your community. Volunteer an hour – or two or three! Every one has a voice and your voice and your help is needed. Take time out from your busy life and give a few hours to your church, or school, or community, or food pantry or pet shelter. Your hour can make the difference in life for all of us.
Your dust bunnies under the sofa can wait. Grab your gear and get on the road. Cruise without an agenda – stop at those places you heard about but never went. Go to Henry’s Drive-In in Cicero for a hot dog. Sit in one of the Pump Room’s booths at the Wolfs Head Inn. Check out Catfish Days in Wilmington July 20-23. Something is always happening in our homebase, Pontiac – check out the tourism calendar on Pontiac.org!
Rock N Rods at the Chateau in Bloomington July 14, 15, 16th – with rock n roll concerts, car show, cruise-in, and more. August brings our Association picnic on August 19th at the Sugar Grove Nature Center Preserve in Funks Grove/McLean! We provide the meat and drinks, bring something to share or just come and visit! September The Military Convoy Route 66 Tour, the ever-wonderful Bassett Waddle in Dwight September 14-17, and The Mother Road Car Show and Festival in Springfield September 22-24. There is something for everyone! “Google” a town and see!
Our annual elections are in October. If you ever wanted to get involved, this is the time. We ask that all county reps attend four meetings a year if possible, volunteer three Saturdays a year at the Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, and be active on the Motor Tour Committee. Our award-winning Preservation Committee is always open to anyone who wants to come out, get dirty, laugh, and since we work for food, eat well!
The lifeblood of any organization is its members. Come infuse us with fresh ideas and your energy! Have a happy, healthy, and soul-refreshing summer on 66!
See you on the road –