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cathie.jpgSpring. We almost forgot what it looked like, felt like, the seasons have been so smushed together. It technically became summer the other day, but for now, warm in the daytime and cool at night is just fine. It’s time to get out on the old two lane, and traveler beware - this year there are some huge potholes on the Mother Road. Be careful! Until Illinois’ 5th season (construction) kicks in, be on the lookout.

This year’s 2015 Hall of Fame includes Steve’s Restaurant, Chenoa, and The Tropics Dining Room and Lounge, Lincoln. Both were significant hubs of their communities, and many relationships came to be because of jobs or going to these fine dining establishments. Movie Stars and ordinary folk sat side by side in these extraordinary places. Steve’s was known for big portions and the best steak between Chicago and St. Louis. The Tropics was famous for their smorgasboard, which featured “themed” weeknight specials. It was a time of growth - the country was prospering, businesses sprang up and did well because they were run by hard-working people who did their job well and enjoyed what they were doing. There was mutual respect. Big Band sound was in the air and Rock-n-Roll was an infant. $3.99 could buy you soup, salad, dinner, and dessert. At our Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday night, June 13th, come hear Tami Goodrich and Chenoa historian Carolyn Parry tell stories.Stories are always better from the people who lived and worked and were present during these businesses’ “heydays.”

It’s been a whirlwind of activity: Odell work day when we make our signature project ready for the already busy tourist season. The Red Carpet Corridor Weekend featured fun and exciting events. The Preservation Committee helped paint the Ambler-Becker Texaco Station in Dwight. It looks fresh and ready! The Car Show in Odell to raise money in memory of Lenore Weiss raised over $1,000 to donate to the Cancer Support Center in Mokena. Many of us who knew Lenore knew how wonderful the Cancer Support Center was to her and others from our Association. They never, ever ask anyone for a donation. It makes supporting agencies like that meaningful. Thanks to the City of Odell, a big thank you to Craig Parrish for emceeing the event, and a huge thank you to Mr. Beal who not only brought his El Camino to the show, he won the split the pot and donated the entire amount back to the Cancer Support Center.

This year’s motor tour blended into and supported the new Blue Carpet Corridor which
includes communities from Chatham to Collinsville. Nineteen communities along Route 66 have banded together to help each other support the businesses and service industries along Route 66 in the southern part of our state.

We lunched in Girard, and there was a 7’ tall raptor waiting for photo opportunities at the New Mining Museum display in Gillespie. When the “born on” date on your coal is 300,000,000 B.C. it has got to be good! We were excited to help these communities on this first ever endeavor of this size. If you didn’t make this year’s tour, will give you the info to spend a wonderful day (or two) on these close to home miles. Now we just need the “White” corridor (Normal to Springfield) to get organized and we will have an amazing staycation opportunity for those who never thought to stay home and learn about the miles around them. Sometimes there is no place like home.
This summer there will be a continuing of the meetings started in November 2013 by the World Monument Foundation and National Park Service. There are ample car shows and festivals and opportunities for preservation workdays as well. On the Motor Tour we visited the new Bob Waldmire Experience at the City Hall Shops, as well as the new Abraham Lincoln/Music display. One thing about Pontiac, everything keeps moving and evolving. Remember Saturdays there is a free Trolley from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM that will take you for a tour of the city, the murals, and all of the Museums: Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, the 1940’s Exhibit, the War Museum/Education Center, the Bob Waldmire Experience, the Walldogs Display, the Gilder’s Museum (where the Walldog’s Museum used to be) and the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum. There will also be some exhibits available at Dong Bai’s Airbrush School. Don’t forget to check the website for free performances of their new summer play held at the theatre in the park as well as all their car/community events.

We’re doing some rearranging and adding to the display space in our own Hall of Fame & Museum. We’ve got 26 years of events and highlights and Hall of Fame people that we want you to know all about.

Many of our icons are for sale: The Gemini Giant, the Ariston, and now DeCamp Junction. These are treasures that are bits of history suspended in time. Stop and take the time to see them before they are purchased and become “new” 66 places. Nick and Demi Adams (Ariston) have always been strong supporters of our Association, as has Pat and Jim Moultrie and Loran Kovaly (DeCamp Junction).

We have much to do and the summer months stretch ahead of us. The grass and chores can wait an extra day. When was the last time you got to Elkhart? Or Shirley? Or the Whirl- A-Whip in Girard? Let’s have a hot dog at Henry’s Drive-In in Cicero, and gelato at Paisan’s in Berwyn. Let’s do the flea market at Montana Charlie’s and visit the Children’s Garden in Elwood. There is so much to do and its so simple. Yes times are tough, the economy is struggling. Let’s find the magic again for ourselves that brings thousands of tourists from all over the world to our Mother Road. One foot n front of the other, let’s walk slowly and go those places we said we would when we have “time.” It’s time!

Looking forward to seeing you on the road!
Cathie Stevanovich President

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Historic Maps

Highway GuideWatch Route 66 evolve into The Mother Road  with maps and highway guides from 1917-1992 courtesty of the official Illinois Digital Archives.