First and foremost I have to apologize to the members and to Perma Graphics for holding up the newsletter. My partner and your Treasurer/Membership Chairman Marty Blitstein passed away after a fast and furious 51 days.
Marty and I had shared an office for the last 24 years and privacy was a big deal for both of us. We didn’t share passcodes or the same computer and definitely not the same TV stations. It took me almost 3 months to be able to access his email. It has been a season of character building. To all the people who signed up for membership since December – you will be getting your membership cards and calendar and newsletter shortly.
Marty collapsed on Christmas Eve morning and went thru 2 different hospitals both on Covid lockdown. He had a heart attack which caused a stroke. I spent the next 51 days telling Doctors “No he doesn’t” as Marty always looked like a diabetic walking nightmare. It was part of his charm. Hospitalists now assume many things and I had to clarify repeatedly that he didn’t have blocked arteries, he didn’t have COPD, he was not diabetic, his oxygen level was normally better than mine – I carried a folder of all his tests in the car to prove we weren’t negligent about his health care. The hospital put him on blood thinners which led to internal bleeding, which led to a second hospital stay, surgery ICU, a round of dialysis because of all the stuff they were giving him, and he caught Covid while in the hospital. On the ambulance ride back to the rehab in Shorewood I received a call he had had a 2nd stroke while at St. Joe’s. He hadn’t eaten since Christmas Eve, his body was tired, and every call for his healthcare needed to be decided by his three sons and they included me as Marty did not have a signed Power of Attorney for Healthcare. We tried a stomach feeding tube which caused problems with his breathing. Martin talked with me – very measured and vey carefully thought out – about whether he was dying and what I had to do. Seriously I was waiting for him to tell me I was the love of his life and instead he’s giving me instructions on calling and reserving the picnic grove for the Association picnic in August. I told him I already did.
Marty never spoke again. On Saturday, February 12th, we moved Marty to Lightways Hospice in Joliet. It is an amazing place that we were so lucky to be able to take Martin to. On Sunday, February 13th, Marty passed away surrounded by his extended family.
I so appreciate the calls, cards, and notes on his passing. I have been overwhelmed with the kindness of our Association members. There will be a short bump in the road for our Association as we bring in a new Treasurer and Membership Chairman and get back on track.
Rising gas prices, food prices, and hotels have caused major discussions about the viability of a Motor Tour. This year’s tour would be North to South and we do have the banquet facilities inn Lincoln. We had a meeting in November and decided on the first half of the Tour however not very many communities felt they could afford to sponsor a stop. We had chosen the theme: Drivin’ the Dream and the color yellow. I have been on the phones with the motels, the banquet hall, sending messages to our caterer trying to get reasonable food prices for the banquet. At our April 24th meeting we decided to tour anyway – we all need to get out on the road! This only gives everyone a 6 week notice before the Tour. We will be sending out email blasts. Start will be North, overnight in Lincoln, end in Staunton. The Chain of Rocks Bridge has areas under construction for the next 2 years so that may not be a viable location for us for another few years.
Tim Walsh has been representing us with The Road Ahead. There was a discussion about the upcoming 100th birthday of Route 66 and plans across the 8 states. Tim attended a meeting where he was able to meet all the Members of the Road Ahead and he will be representing the Illinois Association on all phone/zoom meetings and those meetings in person as well.
We have lost quite a few members who participated in all levels of our Association. We lost Duke Cartwright, Rose Vargo, Lou Vargo, Tom Johnson, Glen Adams, Marty Blitstein, Debbie Mosher, and Cary Hessler. That’s a lot of loss.
We look forward to our Motor Tour and the Association picnic in August!!! August 7th – food provided by the Association and Marty Blitstein’s sons Marc and Steve who will be coming to cook his favorite Leon’s Polish for everyone. We look forward to a great day at Sugar Grove celebrating all things 66 and everyone is invited. RSVP’s will be needed closer to August in order to provide enough food for everyone. We are catering the picnic like we have the past 2 years.
Tourism is back – the roads are starting to fill up with international tourists. The museum hours are back to 9 to 5 from now until November. Remind your family and friends that there is a lot to do in Pontiac on any given weekend, and that Don and the Trolley are one of the best ways to spend an hour on a Saturday getting to see all Pontiac’s wonders.
This is coming too late to boost attendance but the Red Carpet is a little shorter this year (no Towanda) however it is still a major way to get your cruising started. This year’s memorabilia is a poster of Bob’s bus and you add the stamps from the other communities to it.
Thank you all for your patience – again – I had thought I was going to be able to do it all – take care of Marty, work, represent the Association, quilt, etc. but life had other plans. I was running on adrenaline – and now I am tired. My Board has been amazing in supporting me and rallying together as we go forward. Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers and support of our Association. Get out on the 2 lane and enjoy!
President, Route 66 Association of Illinois