Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News posted this story about Google Doodle’s homage to Route 66. When you make it into a Google Doodle, you’ve really made it!
Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News posted this story about Google Doodle’s homage to Route 66. When you make it into a Google Doodle, you’ve really made it!
As part of a series on the influential, colorful, historic people, places and things along Illinois Route 66, we present…
Ernie Edwards, The Pig Hip Restaurant
Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame Class of 1990
100-198 N Frontage Rd, Broadwell, IL 62634
Here’s the story behind this historic landmark:
Ernie Edwards bought what would become the Pig Hip Restaurant, the Harbor Inn, in Broadwell, Illinois 1937. Until 1991, he served up his famous Pig Hip Sandwiches along IL Route 66, featuring fresh, uncured ham which, as Ernie claimed, “came only the left hip of the pig, never the right.” What went into this special culinary creation? A Pig Hip sandwich consisted of that aforementioned fresh ham, tomato and lettuce on a toasted bun with Ernie’s proprietary special sauce. His motto for the sandwich was, ”it made its way by the way it’s made.” In the early days, “Ernie’s Pig-Hip Special” came with a Pig-Hip sandwich, French fries and Jell-O salad and cost 65 cents. The sandwich’s popularity prompted a change to the name of the restaurant itself in 1939.
During WWII in 1942, there were two lanes added to Route 66 because of its strategic military status. Because a portion of the Pig-Hip’s property was in the path of the new road, Ernie’s house was sold and moved to Elkhart (south of Broadwell) and his restaurant and small filling station also had to be demolished. A new restaurant was constructed with funds he received from the government on a short stretch of road that was added to the west of the military lane in 1943. That same year, Ernie went into the Army, working as a cook in the South Pacific and Japan.
Once home from overseas, Ernie settled down into a bustling few decades which included rubbing elbows with such famous names as bandleader Guy Lombardo and Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.
Entrepreneurship ran in the family; his brother owned their Phillips 66 station next to the restaurant and his sister Bonnie and her husband built and operated the Pioneer Rest Motel on the property.
Despite construction of Interstate 55 through central Illinois in the mid 1970s, Broadwell’s overpass and freeway exit allowed easy access to the Pig-Hip, sparing it from the decline in patronage suffered by many other businesses along old Route 66.
Ernie goodnaturedly adopted the nickname, “Old Coot on 66” while serving hungry travelers and locals alike throughout the decades. And when Route 66 was decommissioned n 1985, he soon thereafter joined with fellow local fans of the Mother Road including Tom Teague and Springfield artist Bob Waldmire in founding the Route 66 Association of Illinois.
For his contributions to the character of Route 66 in Illinois, Ernie Edwards was inducted into the Route 66 Association of Illinois in 1990.
Ernie closed the restaurant in 1991 and converted the building into a Pig Hip/Route 66 museum which he ran for 17 years. People continued to visit over the years: tourists from around the world, those with fond memories of the restaurant, even the famous like Arnold Palmer and former President Jimmy Carter stopped by.
The building burned down on March 5, 2007. All that remains is an informational plaque attached to a boulder and a restored Pig Hip sign on the original site of the restaurant. Artifacts from the Pig Hip that survived the fire are now located at The Mill Museum on 66 in Lincoln, Illinois.
Ernie Edwards passed away in 2012 at the age of 94.
Nolan Stolz is a music professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Musically inspired by Route 66, he desired a deeper connection to it – so he took a year-long sabbatical to do some exploring along the Mother Road. Stolz plans to write a musical composition based upon his travels.
Route 66 landmarks in Dwight, IL will be featured in a number of his pieces.
From time to time, we’ll share a piece from the magazine here on the website so you can see for yourself the kind of content you can expect in this quality publication. This article is from a decade ago, Spring, 2012. Enjoy!
by John Weiss
It seems that many tourists from around the world do their homework before coming to Route 66 in Illinois. As a result, before they hit the highway, they want to have a real Chicago-style hot dog and a Chicago-style deep dish pizza.
Travelers also are seeking out two other taste treats that are only available in Illinois. One is the Cozy Dog. These travelers all seem to know that you can only get an authentic Cozy at the place that invented the hot dog on a stick. That, of course is the Cozy Dog Drive-In on Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois.
However, travelers are often bewildered about where they can get a Horseshoe Sandwich. There may even be some of you who are not familiar with this Illinois specialty. So I had better provide a little background information on what has become known as, “a heart attack on a plate.”
The Horseshoe sandwich was created in Springfield, Illinois in 1928. It is a very large open-faced sandwich. So large that most restaurants also offer a smaller version called a Pony Shoe. The name is derived from the first meat that was used – ham. When the meat was cut off from around the bone in one piece it will be in a “U” shape, somewhat like a horseshoe. The bread that the meat is placed on is considered the foot. Then it is covered with French fries. The fries are considered the nails.
So you end up with bread, usually Texas Toast (the hoof) with any kind of meat, fish or vegetable (the horseshoe). This is covered with the French fries (the nails). But here comes the most important part – cheese. This whole concoction is covered in cheese sauce. The cheese sauce from each restaurant is usually a location creation. The ingredients are often a very guarded secret
Of course I have had to experience some Horse and Pony Shoe sandwiches at various locations. I won’t make any recommendations. At all locations they offer various meats, fish or vegetables to choose from. One place claimed to have over 50 varieties. Many claimed to sell hundreds of Shoe sandwiches per week. I will mention that the worst Shoe I had was from a vendor at a fairgrounds. At one place it was so good that half way through I was already looking forward to returning for more.
I found Horseshoe Sandwiches in many restaurants located on Route 66 and almost everywhere in Springfield. I also learned that some establishments never heard of them. Some restaurants have gotten creative. They have invented their own breakfast version. Lots of liberties are taken, but the results of the breakfast shoe I tried was wonderful. The one used gravy instead of cheese and a choice of potatoes such as hash browns instead of french fries. They fixed me up with a 50/50 combo so I could try it both ways.
This project of finding the best places for a Horseshoe sandwich cannot be accomplished by me alone. If I did, then my next book would have to be on how to lose weight. So I need your help. I want all who are reading this to go have a Horseshoe or Pony Shoe sandwich somewhere. Then send me your comments (and photo) to Moxie66@sbcglobal.net or to P.O. Boxx 66, Wilmington, IL 60481. I will then add my collection of locations to those that I receive from all of you. We will then print this list. At the end of the year I will award a bathroom style scale to the person who provides me with the most Horseshoe sandwich locations.
Our members-only newsletter, The 66 News is distributed quarterly since its first issue in September, 1989.
From time to time, we’ll share a piece from the magazine here on the website so you can see for yourself the kind of content you can expect in this quality publication. This article is from Summer, 1994. Enjoy!
by Stu Kainste
Editor’s Note – Stu Kainste lives in Springfield where he’s involved in natural preservation activities. He wrote this reminiscence of 66 at the request of his longtime friend, Bob Waldmire.
Ultimately all hitchhikers who thumbed 66 were tourists. We lived and breathed the highway’s contours and curves, slept its embankments, drank its acid coffee. Bleached in its relentless sun, soaked in its ill-timed rains, but mostly stayed partly awake through its long stretched that lead to somewhere. It was 1972. I was 21. I had already hitchhiked some of Europe and probably every road in New York State, visiting friends who were sometimes glad to see me. The Catskill/Adirondack trails were my first introduction to nature. Hitching was my prime escape route out of the projects in Brooklyn. I didn’t drive and I wasn’t sure exactly what a motel was. So when I went west, starting at the George Washington Bridge, I was skilled to the ways of the road. In three days I reached my first stopping place – Springfield, Illinois.
On the way, I met a nice fellow in a convertible who took me through Ohio and Indiana. He was going to Yellowstone. If a vacation had been my goal, I would have accompanied him. But the only thing I was sure of was that I didn’t want to return to Brooklyn and not being a bear, well, Yellowstone wasn’t it. Instead I spent a week in Springfield with a friend, then headed west on Route 66 toward the Grand Canyon.
It was the perfect destination. I was stopped repeatedly in Tulsa in Oklahoma City by the law. When they asked me “Where yer’ going?” the Grand Canyon always got me off. In both towns I waited all night under and beside the four-lane until I was rescued the next morning by kindly citizens.
I remember riding with a hard-nosed guy carrying a truckload of watermelons. He stopped off at a watering hole, came back smashed and still drove through the night. He had me along to help put the tarp on if it rained. It did and we got soaked. He shared some cigarettes with me and put me off at a pine forest under the twin peaks near Flagstaff. I woke up with the dear and hitched to the canyon. It was indeed a perfect destination.
At the canyon I met a guy from Pittsburgh who was, like me, getting ready to hike to the Colorado River. He had a bag of fried chicken and some cigarettes. Fortunately for him I had enough camping gear to keep a small regiment alive, so he survived. Fortunately for me, he was driving a VW, going my way, and got me through the worst of Utah’s dry country.
I left 66 for a sojourn through Utah, Idaho, Oregon and the Sierra Nevadas. On the road I met a wide range of fellow freeloaders – short, tall, black, white, hairy, bald, alone, coupled, etc. You could tell the road tested ones by their nonchalance – if they gave a damn, they weren’t telling. When I hit Route 66 again in Needles, I had become one of them. There was no more, “Hi, my name is Stu and I’m from Brooklyn,” stuff. It was a nod and a grunt and a sunburnt glance up the road.
I almost hopped a train in Needles. I’d spent two days roasting in the desert sun. But a ride came along just before the train left. And adventure not done, but no regrets.
On the way back east, I’ll never forget the mesa outside New Mexico. I spent two days there living on milkshakes, waiting for a ride. It was the only break on the horizon. I’ll also never forget the hitchhiker we picked up while I was riding in a VW van. He had a brown paper bag full of cigarettes. We all had some and when we reached the big sky country outside of Amarillo, we saw the largest rainbow possible.
My last ride was with an ex-P.O.W. who was going home after being away for four years. He hadn’t seen his girlfriend yet. The only other things I remember were his questions, “Is Creedence Clearwater still together?” “What’s with all this long hair?” and “Will I see you at the State Fair?” We turned north on Illinois Route 4, still a fine road, and he dropped me off in Jacksonville, thirty miles from Springfield. I got a ride the rest of the way from two youngsters who were on their way to the fair.
I thought I would winter in Springfield and travel the summers away. Twenty years later, I do my traveling in a station wagon, my home is still Springfield and I only see Route 66 in small doses that mostly link subdivisions or suburban communities.
Route 66 was doomed the way our countryside is doomed, the same way our forests are doomed, the same way our lifestyle is doomed. The earth can’t hold the people, just like the old two lane couldn’t handle the volume. While I was traveling a stretch of Old 66 near Funks Grove recently, the adjacent interstate was full of traffic. The old road couldn’t hold it. This old planet can’t hold it. No problem – we’re only tourists.
It is with deep sorrow that we report that Marty Blitstein, Treasurer and Membership Chairman of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, passed away after a short illness at Lightways Hospice in Joliet, Illinois on Sunday, February 13th.
Marty was a steadfast devotee of the Mother Road; he loved being part of the Route 66 Association of Illinois with all his heart. Not a stranger could meet him and leave his company without a thorough education on the allure and many delights of Route 66. His contributions throughout the years to the association were numerous. Among the highlights were revitalizing its membership and Treasury. He collaborated with Betty Estes to facilitate the moving of the Hall of Fame from the Dixie Truckers’ Home in McLean, IL to its current location in the old Fire Station in Pontiac. Intensely dedicated to product and quality, Marty ensured that our Association thrived by adeptly managing the pricing on Motor Tours, clothing and events. He proved an ardent fundraiser for our award-winning Preservation Committee.
Services for Marty will be held Sunday, February 20th.
Lawn Funeral Home
17909 S. 94th Avenue
Tinley Park, IL 60487
Phone (708) 532-3100
Wake will be from 2 to 6 p.m. with a short Memorial Service at 4 p.m
Marty leaves behind – and will be dearly missed by – his best friend and partner, Cathie Stevanovich, his children and their spouses: Marc (Kathy) of Diamond, IL, Steve (Judi) of Tinley Park, IL, and Scott (Gina) of Park Forest, IL. He was a loving, good-natured grandfather to Cyle, Molly, Ryan, Mackenzie, Seth and Jack. Marty had a special relationship with Ian Stevanovich (Cathie’s son) and “4 th son” Roy Olson.
Memorials in lieu of flowers may be donated to Lightways Hospice, Joliet, or the Route 66 Association of Illinois (please reference Marty’s name with your donation so that we may personally thank you for your kindness and generosity).
Interment will be private.
Thank you to all those who contributed photos for our 2021 Illinois Route 66 Photo of the Year Contest! It was a pleasure perusing the pictures, vicariously traveling along and enjoying the Mother Road with you! I’ve narrowed the field to my favorite three and now it’s your turn to pick the winner!
Here they are – in no particular order:
Vote for your favorite by emailing your preference to firstname.lastname@example.org before Wednesday, February 23, 2022. The winner will be announced by February 28 and the winning photo will take residence as our association’s Facebook cover photo for the month of March, 2022. The top photo submitter will also win a Route 66-themed prize package (details are forthcoming).
(The featured image for this post (below) has already won Honorable Mention (and Editor Gina’s comedic appreciation.) Thank you, John P. DeWitt for illustrating for us all the quote from Lord of the Rings, “All who wander are not lost.” And if you’re in a wandering frame of mind, there’s no better place than along Route 66…)
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