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Hall of Famer

2017 Hall of Fame Nominations Now Being Accepted!

It's that time of year again! Until December 31, 2016, we will be accepting nominations for our Class of 2017 Hall of Fame inductees.

Clay Dooley_0.pngOur Hall of Famers are a prestigious group - we've been honoring a select handful of inductees each year since 1990. Nominations are reviewed and voted upon by our Hall of Fame Committee. Winners will be notified early in 2017 and will be honored at an induction ceremony that will take place on the second weekend June, on the Saturday of our annual Motor Tour weekend.

The Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame recognizes "those people and places along Route 66 whose blend of hardy individualism and grassroots community spirit gave the road such special character."

To qualify for election to the Hall of Fame, nominees must have made significant contributions to the character or history of the Illinois portion of Route 66 from 1926 to 1977 while it was an official United States highway in the State of Illinois.

Thank you for taking the time to nominate a person or place to the Hall of Fame, that has contributed to the education of others and/or promotion of Rt.66 in Illinois.

General Guidelines for nominating to the Illinois Route 66 Association Hall of Fame:

Anyone may nominate, but self-nomination is not permitted, and those currently on the HoF Committee are not eligible. Induction is considered an honor and there is no absolute right or guarantee of induction. No Association member shall be held liable for not selecting any nominee. All material submitted to the committee shall become property of the Association unless stated otherwise.

Marty Blitstein Awarded President's Award

The following was the presentation by Duke Cartwright to Marty Blitstein presenting
him with one of the President’s Awards 2016.

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October 18, 1998, Bloomington, Illinois, The Country Buffet Restaurant for the
Quarterly Route 66 Association of Illinois meeting and elections. Marty became the
newly elected Treasurer. We (the Association) was flat broke. Not enough money in the bank to send out letters to the membership that we were in trouble and in need of help. I stood up and made a suggestion that we “pass the hat” around for donations to get enough money for postage to send out letters to the membership. We received almost $500 which was enough for postage.

With that Marty started his campaign for the Route 66 Association of Illinois and has been campaigning ever since. For the next 18 years, he has been influentially involved in everything that has to do with Illinois Route 66. Probably the biggest thing would be the relocation of the Hall of Fame from McLean to Pontiac.

The purchasing of the glass display cabinets to show off the artifacts of Route 66. The ordering, and selling of the t-shirts, jackets, patches, cookbooks, and other
items we make a profit on. The yearly tour. He shops for the best location for the banquet, menu for the food, every detail involved including the silverware that we eat with and the napkins we wipe our mouths with, he negotiates for. Marty KNOWS the business and how to get things done.

"Egg Force One" at Steak 'n Egger, McCook, IL

Photo op along Route 66! Come see Terry Carr's ultralight, "Egg Force One," at new Hall of Fame member location, 8408 West Joliet Road, McCook, IL, present home of the Steak n' Egger.

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2016 Hall of Fame Nominations Announced!

The Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame recognizes "those people and places along Route 66 whose blend of hardy individualism and grassroots community spirit gave the road such special character." To that end, each year our Association nominates several of these special people and/or places to induct into our Hall of Fame. Nominees are inducted at our annual Hall of Fame banquet, held the Saturday evening of our Motor Tour Weekend (this year, June 11).

We are proud to announce that our Hall of Fame "Class of 2016" Inductees are:

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Happy Birthday to the Rialto Theatre in Joliet!

The Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Famer, Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, IL is celebrating it's 90th birthday and its in good company! The theatre opened on May 24, 1926 and Route 66 herself began serving travelers on November 11, 1926. Their connection? The road that runs in front of the Rialto, Chicago St, is original Route 66.

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To celebrate the auspicious occasion, many free events will take place throughout May, including free tours and concerts on Tuesdays the 3rd, 10th and 17th. The "big day" is May 24th and numerous "free" events are planned all day long.

Frances Edwards Has Passed Away

We are sad to report that Frances Edwards, wife of the late Hall of Famer, Ernie Edwards, passed away on March 1 at the age of 94. Frances helped her husband operate the Pig Hip Restaurant in Broadwell, Illinois for nearly 30 years, until 1991. Frances was buried on March 4, 2016 at New Union Cemetery in Lincoln, Illinois.

Read our story about her husband Ernie's passing from 2012.

The Waldmire Road Yacht Talks!

by Preservation Chairman, John Weiss

When visitors to Pontiac stop to see Bob Waldmire's Road Yacht, they immediately want to know all about it: What its significance is and why it's on display at the Route 66 Association of Illinois Museum and Hall of Fame. The outside of the converted schoolbus is certainly interesting but most people want to explore the treasures that fill the inside as well. Unfortunately, the converted school bus can only be open to the public when an attendant is stationed inside.

Recently we added a message repeater system next to the front door to provide visitors with information about the bus even when no attendant is on site. The three minute message tells folks about the Road Yacht and Bob Waldmire and even includes a one minute message spoken by Bob himself. It also directs folks to the Bob Waldmire exhibit in the building behind the Road Yacht.

New Display Cases for the Museum!

by Museum Curator, John Wille

The Route 66 Association of Illinois recently purchased six new display cases for the Museum and Hall of Fame in Pontiac. With these cases we are able to more prominently display the memorabilia of our newest hall of Fame members. They provide room for future displays as well as for some items we currently have in storage. They also give the museum a fresh appearance. It is a lot of fun changing items around and adding new displays. As Route 66 approaches its 90th year and the museum moves toward its 12th year, visitors will have a new look to experience. Your are cordially invited to come see our new cases and the treasures they contain!

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Motor Tour 2016

Motor Tour 2016 details are now available!

All are welcome to participate in our annual Association Motor Tour along Route 66 in Illinois!

Alive & Kickin' on Route 66

Celebrating 90 years of the Mother Road - 1926 -2016

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Dates:
Friday, June 10, 2016
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Sunday, June 12, 2016

Highlights include:

Direction:
South - North

2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

On Saturday June 13, two new businesses were inducted into our Association’s Hall of Fame.

The Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame recognizes “those people and places along Route 66 whose blend of hardy individualism and grassroots community spirit gave the road such special character.”

To qualify for election to the Hall of Fame, nominees must have made significant contributions to the character or history of the Illinois portion of Route 66 from 1926 to 1977 while it was an official United States highway in the State of Illinois.

Steve's Café, Chenoa, IL

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(Adapted from Carolyn Parry’s nomination)

Steve’s Café was a famous landmark on old Route 66. It was known for, “The Finest Steaks
Between Chicago and St. Louis.” Steve’s Café started out as a garage, gas station and
lunchroom built in 1924 by Tom and Charles Elliott. The building was purchased in
1925 by Paul Lanterman and the lunchroom was operated by his wife, Ada. There was
counter seating for nine and a table which seated four customers. A superheterodyne
radio set was installed in the garage portion of the building and a sizeable crowd of
Chenoans would gather each evening to listen to whatever program was being received.

In 1926, State Route 4 was officially designated U.S. Route 55. In the 1930s, Elmer
and Orville Wahls purchased the property from the Lantermans, who moved across
the street, and added to their existing gasoline and oil business. Then the property was
purchased again and the new owners added 50 feet to the east of the existing dining room to accommodate the growing number of patrons.

The Café was one of the first to have air conditioning outside the Chicago area. The first
air conditioning equipment, made by Williams Oil-O-Matic Ice Cold Air, was installed in
the restaurant and a large sign was put up on the roof. Every time a new model was intro-
duced by Williams, it was brought to Chenoa to replace the older model and to test it as
new equipment. On hot days it was not unusual to see people lined up between the
front door and the counter, trying to keep cool.

Got Content?


EditorWe welcome your Route 66 news, stories, photos and events for publication in our newsletter or on our web site!

Submit it here

Send us your change of address to:
Membership
110 W Howard St
Pontiac, IL, 61764
or use our handy contact form

Learning to use our calendar puts the fun and adventure of Route 66 at your fingertips. It's easy to discover the when, what and where of events along the road.

Here's How!

Historic Maps

Highway GuideWatch Route 66 evolve into The Mother Road  with maps and highway guides from 1917-1992 courtesty of the official Illinois Digital Archives.