cathie.jpgIt happened yesterday. A brown and gold leaf drifted down into my car as I drove to talk to someone about our new glossy brochure. Fall is coming. I’m not ready, and there were so many things yet to do. It’s said we will have a mild winter.... but it’s time to get out and play NOW! Gas prices are amazing!

What a busy summer! The Miners, Mobsters, and The Mother Road” Motor Tour went well. We had a great time rediscovering our southern counties and look forward to next year’s tour where we’re going to be going south to north so we can take full advantage of the Blue Carpet Corridor. There have been car shows, flea markets, festivals all along the road. Upcoming is the Bassett Waddle (personal favorite), the GTO festival in Pontiac, and the Mother Road festival in Springfield at the end of September. Mix in all the fall festivals and pumpkin chunkin’ and the October Edwardsville festival and you come to see every weekend can be jam packed.

There is change on the road, many businesses are for sale looking for new historically conscious buyers (my hope). We had many more visitors from China this year than ever before, and our local “staycation” population continues to grow. We’ve had more volunteers at the Museum this year which helps as we’ve had some pretty full weekends between car clubs and tour buses. I’ve already got dozens of contacts regarding next year – so Route 66 is not a “has been.” It’s a bright and shiny wonderful place that continues to inspire. Our Illinois miles are looking better than ever because more communities along the route are recognizing its value. As long as we keep our miles genuine, we will continue to prosper due to tourism. I’m sure the Gray Family with their service station or the Benedict Family gas stations in McLean never thought about economic development and tourism when they were busy pumping gas and washing car windows. It was all about service and respect.

Elections are coming up in October and will be held at the Pontiac City Hall, 115 W. Howard Street, in Pontiac, Illinois. The elections are held at the General Meeting which starts at 1 PM. We need representation for the entire road in Illinois. If you’re interested please let one of our board members know or come to a meeting!

Right now, the Illiana is in a holding position, supposedly it’s “dead” however there have been articles that Springfield is negotiating deals for those businesses that would be involved “if” it were built. Our state is in bad financial health so we’re hoping that this road, which will impact Route 66/IL 53 and the cities of Elwood and Wilmington, will continue to be sidelined. The truck traffic continues to be a concern for the city of Elwood, however having the world’s largest inland “port” or “hub” in your backyard brings problems. Route 53/IL 66 has had much repair work between Joliet and Wilmington and there continues to be controversy. Our concern is tourist safety – we don’t want people getting on I-55 and missing communities because of the trucks or condition of the road.

Our Hall of Fame Committee has been working hard on clarifying and rewriting The Hall of Fame Nomination form. Kudos to John Wille, Dave Sullivan, Debbie Bates, Emmy Bates and the other committee members for their excellent feedback and making the nomination process outline easy to follow. This is nomination time, so if you have someone/ something you feel should be honored in our Hall of Fame, please do so. Nominations must be in by December 31st, 2015 for the Class of 2016.

We continue to work toward a cover for the bus. Electric has been brought out to the bus and a voicebox will be installed to tell Bob Waldmire’s story in part with his own voice. New display cases are ordered so we can present more of our 66 collection in the museum. John Wille has been a great asset to our organization personally and in his position as curator of our fine museum.

A quiet, hard-working member of our group is the Membership/Treasurer position which requires countless hours of computer time following up with members, new members, businesses, and working to promote the benefits of membership in our organization. Marty Blitstein, who has been our Membership Chairman (13 years)/Treasurer (17 years) continues to work hard to keep our numbers strong, our bills paid, and make Bob’s bus fundraising through the sale of the Waldmire T-shirts highly successful. Marty’s the voice you hear when asking about your lost newsletter, or asking for t-shirts, or placing an ad in the newsletter.

Jim Jones has been serving as our Tour Director and is the chief architect of our amazing glossy brochure. We appreciate his hours at the museum and in working with us on the upcoming free map our Association is known for.

So take an hour and hit the road before the snow flies. Make the trip to some place old, look for something new, and enjoy the lower gas prices! A meal shared makes it so much better! Try an open face hot beef sandwich at the Ariston or peach pie at the Log Cabin or breakfast at Lou Mitchells. Road tripping is truly soul food on so many levels.
Thank you all for your participation and support this past year. Your membership makes so much possible – preservation projects, education as in our glossy maps, website, Facebook, our fantastic newsletter and ever- changing museum. We continue to be strong as an organization because of you, our members.

See you on the road!

Cathie Stevanovich

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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.