Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day! Is it me or does it seem like Illinois has taken on a grunge season like Oregon or Washington? As long as we get some sunny days in between, this too can b e adjusted to.
We go into high gear at this time of year – festivals, car shows, county fairs and outside entertainment everywhere! Looking for something different or unusual? Just google your area and you would be amazed what you will find! Don’t forget that Sunday drives are always aa good time to take a break from work and responsibilities and find your own fun. Years ago if you invited me to lunch in Connecticut I would be on the road in no time! Now I’m still adjusting to having a little less mobility and energy so I’m ok for about five hours.
The 2019 Motor Tour was wonderful! From Dr. Jordan Bellar’s museum to the Niemann’s Farm in Litchfield, a great time was had by all. The Hall of Fame dinner with new honorees, The Fatlan Family, and the De Benedetti brothers, Mario and Darin, and the Milano Bakery Company was great! Good company, great food, and the Milano Bakery brought us an atomic cake and homemade cookies that were so good! Thanks to all who sent their suggestions and comments on the tour. The Board of Directors appreciates your input and many of these suggestions will be put in place for next year’s tour! Believe it or not, it takes about 10 months to arrange the tour!
We are celebrating out 15th year in Pontiac! Time has flown by, and we have been blessed to have the3 support of the City of Pontiac! The world comes to our door and we’re not fancy or computerized or 3D, but the museum is appreciated for what It is: A record of Illinois 66 memorabilia and our Hall of Fame members. The Hall of Fame recognizes those who built businesses, services, destinations, etc. along the Mother Road. If you know of anyone who deserves to be in our Hall of Fame, nominations start September 1st through December 31st. The criteria is on our website, available at the museum or email me for information. There are 91 communities along 66 in Illinois – there are people you may know that should be honored!
We are awaiting the fate of the National Trail! The Road Ahead and the various sponsors of making Route 66 a national trail have been hard at work quietly working to make sure the Mother Road is protected in the future. The current preservationists and state association workers are an aging community and it’s important that our work carries on. There is a season for everything – including Associations – so having Route 66 a national trail will ensure that the Road continues. As more and more families make Route 66 a local staycation, our numbers for visitors in Illinois is increasing. Some of the Mom and Pop places are being replaced b y big box stores, but there is still spirit and room for individuals to set down roots. The small but mighty Route 66 Historical Shop in Springfield highlights that during Route 66’s start up and growth, Springfield was a major contributor to travelers of any color on the road.
As a people, as a country we have gone through many growing periods and will continue to do so. How we were raised morphs into where society has changed and how we as people change. Occupations change as well. Visiting Niemann’s Farm was eye-opening as to the amount of equipment needed to farm. And that no matter how great your equipment, timing and weather affect your final crops. When people say to me that all this Route 66 stuff is based on “living in the past” I like to point out lessons learned from the people of the road that respectfully provided food, services, and were the volunteers, scout leaders, church leaders, town council members, etc. All taught us lessons worth learning. Respect, hope and freedom never goes out of style. All should be enjoyed by everyone no matter where they are.
John Miller will be representing us on another The Road Ahead committee as the nine associations (eight states) work together as a group for future preservation needs and guidance. The Road Ahead will not replace the state associations – grass roots will always be important in our Illinois projects. Since the Association started in 1989, we were aggressive on correct signage, on getting involved where we could, or when we were asked, and several of the nationally/world famous preservation projects in the state – Odell Station and The Mill – continue to need our support and work. Preservation is maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.
Our award-winning Preservation Committee has members who come in from Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, etc. to lend a hand. The Waldmire Bus is well on its way to International fame, and it requires waterproofing and cleaning and volunteers to share its story. Since 2011 when the bus was first opened to the public on Red Carpet Corridor weekend, thousands have been through the bus. Many return as an annual trek. Preservations inspires, it reignites dreams and hopes that anything is possible all based on choices we make.
We’re facing tougher financial times, gas prices are good but the increased gas tax in Illinois is going to take some adjustment. Please don’t forget that the communities along the route need support and dollars spent on the road are so appreciated. Many communities need volunteers – so step up and give a few hours a month to a local museum or historical society that needs help in order to be open. You will be amazed at the benefits you get when you give a few hours of your time. I have made so many friends from all over the world sitting in the Waldmire bus for a few hours. I met a sculpture artist from Japan, a fellow quilter from Canada, a teacher from Samoa, and learned that we’re all the same. We found a little peace on a two lane road that inspires us to have hope and dreams for the future. It’s a family of choice!
So get out and enjoy before we find ourselves surrounded by fall foliage! Roll down your car windows, get the wind in your hair. Share your stories of growing up with your friends and grandchildren. Go to the drive-in and watch the movie! SS\top by antique shops and browse. Support local museums that tell the story of that town and its people. Give tow hours of your time to a place that needs volunteers – whether its our Association of your local historical society.
Have a wonderful summer – and see you on the road!
Cathie Stevanovich, President
Route 66 Association of Illinois