To promote, preserve, educate and enjoy Route 66 in Illinois. This is our motto and this is what the Association strives to accomplish every day. We want to take care of our Mother Road portion, assist in helping others preserve their history and historic sites and help people safely enjoy our 400 miles. Covid changed the world for the most part, and we are all adjusting to change. Most of us aren’t crazy about any kind of change anyway – so for some being limited to travel and availability of different 66 locations can be frustrating. Some destinations are changing their hours, some are temporarily closing for the winter months, some are closing their doors and retiring.
The Road was nurtured by businesses that were run by families that gave their all – years ago the Gray Sisters talked about giving up their beds so their parents could rent their rooms to the workmen that were building Route 66 by hand in Illinois. They thought of it as an adventure. Today I doubt you’d find too many children that would sleep on their porches willingly to take in and shelter strangers. These families that rented rooms and beds to these men respected their hard work and appreciated the financial aid of extra money. Soon many of these strangers became family and often visited for years after the road was finished. Route 66 does that to you. You start off as strangers and acquaintances and become family. Roger Gray used to carry clothing and blankets and extra necessities in his tow truck because he never knew exactly what he’d find when he went out on a tow. Families that were driving up north from southern states often had no idea of the differences in climate. Roger would talk of finding families in broken down cars where the people were in summer clothes. Ernie Edwards used to tell stories about families that had car troubles, no money and hungry children. Sometimes he’d get his brother Joe to fix the car while he fed the family. If the repairs were large, Ernie would put them up in the motel next to the gas station and restaurant. In the morning, after a good breakfast, he’d send the family on their way with a little extra money, a full tank of gas, and food. As tough as Ernie was, he believed in people and helped when he could. There are so many people who since 1926 have quietly helped the Route 66 travelers. This continues today, and eventually when the borders open again and our Roadies from afar come home to see the Mother Road we will be here, helping when needed, appreciative of the time and effort it takes for an International traveler to come here. I get emails all the time from people who have not been able to get back into the States, and how they miss visiting. I had an email about someone whose motorcycle broke down and how “some guy” stoped and helped him out and how his bike ran better after that. I want to thank all the “some guys” and “some gals” that have stopped with a second thought to assist a Traveler year ’round.
The Road Ahead is working on many projects and the National Trail Designation is slowly (hopefully) coming to fruition in Washington. As some of us are aging we need the assistance of the Federal Government to ensure that the road built by hard work, great service, and mutual respect is here for the next hundred years. The road has always had its ups and downs and it wasn’t always a pretty story but it was a place that connected our country making the Midwest its heartbeat.
We are working on the 2022 Motor Tour which will go North to South with our overnight in Lincoln. We are watching the Covid situation and are going to follow the 2021 guidelines of limited stops but still a great Tour with some new places and faces. Dates are the second weekend in June – the 10th, 11th and 12th. We have some plans for a fun Friday night start and we are open to suggestions on stops for the tour. This year we will again be taking the checks/payments for the tour in two parts: one for the Tour that always goes on rain or shine. and the second for the Hall of Fame dinner. Currently there are no Covid restrictions on banquets, however we are including in our plans that the Tour goes on whether or not we can hold a Hall of Fame Banquet.
We have the Association and Preservation members, Debbie and Emmy Bates working on organizing our historic documents and histories. We have a new position, Historian, that Dwight Cannon has stepped up into. You will see articles from Dwight periodically in our newsletter about different places along the road. Tim Walsh is now representing us on the Road Ahead as our voice on several committees. John Weiss continues to lead our Preservation Committee and its never-ending maintenance, maintenance, maintenance and a newly formed Museum Committee to help Curator John Wile with Hall of Fame and Museum initiatives.
We held our first Motor Tour meeting in November with the City of Atlanta hosting us at the Palms Cafe restaurant with a catered breakfast from Country Aire. Atlanta has a new Tourism director, Whitney Ortiz, and the town has been working on its historic properties and one of the featured items on the tour will be a visit to the “new” “old” original Atlanta mine! Who knew?
Do do your honey do lists while winter settles in. Spring will be here – I always use my morning mantra, “One day closer to spring.”
The Board of Directors of our Association wishes all of you – our extended 66 family – a healthy, happy and safe 2022.
See you on the road,
Cathie Stevanovich, President