Whew! We’re done with 2020! Looking forward to 2021 to make up for the sadness, the loss, the health issues, the financial concerns of 2020. The new year has its work cut out for it – 2021 has to be almost too good to be true to make up for last yer. My mom used to talk about seasons and that everything had a season. Seasons were to bring endings as well.
This year we have lost many 66 supporters and may Route 66 members. Marty Bilecki, longtime 66 fan, passed away from heart issues (June). Hall of Fame member Chuck Beeler passed away in August from complications of surgery, his wife, C,J. Beeler (hall of Fame member Dixie Truck Stop, owner of Shirley Oil Company and her own private interior design business) passed away in September of COVID-19. Longtime Route 66 member Dorothy Seratt McMullin’s son passed away. Nate had helped out on many of the original workdays at Odell Station. Duke Cartwright, one of our Association’s longtime 66 supporters, and current Board member passed away in October. We lost Rosie Vargo, Longtime Preservation Member and Board member in the beginning of November in a car accident. We’ve had other members come through COVID-19 with some side efFects and after effects and we pray for their full recovery.
We’ve seen the world change since March. We survived “lockdown,” then “no lockdown” then slowly the opening of stores and our museum, and then a second wave of limitations and lockdowns. Our museum is currently closed in Pontiac (UPDATE: Our Hall of Fame and Museum has reopened as of January 20, 2021.), and although we were open for a few months, visitation was limited but “healthy” in that families were still out on the road, mostly from Midwest states but a few hearty International travelers.
Our Preservation Committee did get the exterior work done on Bob Waldmire’s bus. We were able to complete waterproofing and cleaning the bus before the lockdown. Our work days for the rest of the year were cancelled. Odell Station was used for a season of “Fargo,” with Chris Rock. The station received a lot of love as it was painted for the series and then repainted back to its original colors so with the exception of some outside work, the station will be fine until next year. Tall Paul in Atlanta has to wait to have his countenance freshened up due to COVID-19 regulations. We have a plan for a COVID-19-safe, self-contained(!) car cruise as a fund raiser this coming April. The Mill in Lincoln needs a heating and air conditioning system. The Board voted to contribute $1500 to The Mill to help them get started. Currently there is no heating or air conditioning at all!
By mid-April we all will be a little stir crazy – and will need to get out! So safely road trip with a purpose! Self-contained in your own car, out on the Mother Road, caravanning in and out of communities, getting stamps on a Tour Sheet from a street stop (you stay in your car, stamps are handed through the car window) all to support The Mill. Tentative cost will be $20 per car and that gives you a Tour Sheet map and a reusable fabric Mill mask. All funds raised will go to The Mill towards their projected $10,000+ cost of enabling their Museum to be open year ’round! Extra Mill masks will be available for $5 each. Details to be published online and in e-blasts (so make sure you’ve signed up to receive our informative emails here. We can, and we will, social distance, and safely get our kicks on 66 for a great cause. Plus, this will be the perfect warm-up for the 2021 Motor Tour that we hope will be able to be held in June. The Motor Tour will be South to North, overnight is in Lincoln. The theme is “Life is a Highway” and color is “safety orange!” You will definitely see us coming in 2-21 with bright orange safety cones highlighting our Passport stops and adorning our banquet tables – which will be properly distanced and only held if Illinois mandates approve inside dining at the time. Cross your fingers – so we can cross the Chain of Rocks Bridge twice!!
Expect news from our Winter Quarterly Meeting regarding this year’s Motor Tour and the possibility of holding these meetings via Zoom rather than in person in the future.
We look forward to seeing what Governor Pritzker decides ass we go forward into 2021. We know there is work to be done at the Museum (annual spring cleaning), Odell Station, Tall Paul and perhaps sone new work projects.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, we sincerely wish all of our members and Route 66 supporters a wonderful New Year. We hope that 2021 brings you health and happiness. We appreciate your support over the last 31 years and we look forward to 31 more!
See you on the road!
President, Route 66 Association of Illinois