Monday, December 31, 2007

Wahoo's Preservation Alley--San Fernando Valley?--NYC New Teardown Capital

Some Preservation News from December.

1. How come there has been so little historic preservation in California's San Fernando Valley?

One explanation is that the valley was mostly built-up in the post-WWII boom and these sites are just now becoming eligible for historic preservation status.

Valley residents are just-now becoming aware of the historical and cultural monuments that they have.

One place already lost forever is Clark Gable's Encino Ranch which was never designated a historical site and now has been built over.

2. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, New York City has now replaced Chicago as Tear-Down Capital.

Wahoo's Preservation Alley-- Marion, Ohio

The local paper did a write-up and the state of some local historical buildings.

1. The Houghton Sulky Building is for sale. It was originally the First Methodist Centenary Church and built around 1845. It was later owned by the Jerald Sulky Company. The owners have allowed the historical society to remove items of significance. The building is in bad shape.

Must have been a great place to make sulkies, whatever they are or were. Perhaps equipment for some type of horse racing.

2. On the 1895 Marantha Baptist Church the stained glass windows are buckling and slate is falling off the roof.

3. The Marion County Courthouse (built 1884-1885) also needs a lot of work. Estimates call for $10 million.

4. Brothers Merle and Oliver Hamilton have restored the Linn Schoolhouse to its pre-1900s and donated it to the Marion County Historical Society. It has recently won an honor from the National trust for Historic Preservation.

These two brothers are to be congratulated for their efforts. They are True Preservationists.

5. The old Marion Library (1915-1920) is now part of the Trinity Baptist Church and has been completely restored. It also was a Carnegie library.

Losing a Lot, Winning Some. --Wahoo

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Merriest of Merry

I would like to wish all my road buddies and preservationists a very Merry Christmas.

I'm sitting here at the old 'pute and two-fingered typing away while watching and listening to my all-time favorite favorite seasonal movie, "A Christmas Story." Hey Ralphie, "You'll put your ....." Thank you TBS for the 24 hour marathon!!! I'm working on my second time through.

It is also Jimmy Buffett's 61st birthday today, one of my favorite performers. Can he Really be 61?

A Bit of History-- The Battle of Fort Fisher

Even though the history and Civil War subjects have been spun out to other blogs, I have to write about this event, whose anniversary is today, as it is what got me interested in history, and that, of course, eventually developed into an old road infatuation that I can barely contain.

The event I speak of is the First Battle of Fort Fisher, NC, which started December 24, 1864, and ended today. That was 143 years ago.

When I was seven, my dad took me to Fort Fisher and tried to explain that it was in a war fought between north and south. I figured we must have been for the north since we lived in North Carolina, and just south of us was South Carolina. He explained that we were for the south.

I then said that we were north because we lived in North America. Dad was very patient and explained it all to me. From then on, I read as much as I could about the Civil War. I was HOOKED.

By the way, the Confederacy won this battle and the port of Wilmington, the haven of blockade runners, remained open. Lee's army could still receive the supplies it needed to continue its struggle for independence.

Funny How Things Can Get You Started on Life-Long Interests. --RoadDog

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cooter's Preservation Alley--No Protection in Waltham--Fishkill Encampment Paved Over

Some preservation articles of interest,

1. It may bill itself as "The Cradle of the Industrial Revolution in America" but Waltham, Massachusetts, is coming up way short when it comes to protecting its historic houses.

For a town that hosts the popular "Historic Waltham Day Festival" every Saturday, there are no preservation laws on the books. It is one of the few Boston-area municipalities without them.

Several hundred homes were id'd by the Massachusetts Historical Commission twenty years ago as being worthy of preservation. Many have since met the wreckers ball.

In addition, few of the dozen town historic districts are marked.

One example is the circa 1825 home on Clark Street of Dr. James Jackson, co-founder of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.. Then it was owned by Francis Cabot Lowell II, and is now a multi-family residence with its exterior covered with gray tar shingles. Definitely an aold home in danger.

Dec. 9th, "In Waltham, little protection for the old houses" by Stephan Clark.

2. Fishkill, NY-- The Fishkill Encampment and Supply Depot, where thousands of General Washington's troops were stationed to stop the British north of New York City is also the site of the Route 9 Corridor, marked by extremely heavy traffic and big-box stores.

The Rapolje House and Van der Voort Estate have recently been razed.

Only the Van Wyck Homestaed remains of the encampment and supply depot. which was larger and operated longer that the more famous Valley Forge. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Let's Save IT Before It's Gone for Good. --RoadDog

Cooter's Illinois Preservation Alley-- In the Jailhouse Now

Richard Frederick bought a new house at auction in Sullivan, Illinois, recently for $42,000. Now that is a GREAT deal for a house anymore. However, if any of his four children get in trouble, the can be sent to jail.

Richard is the proud new owner of an early 1900s two-story brick jail with a residence out front and cell-block out back. In the early days, the sheriff and family lived in the residence, but recently it was used as office space.

To buy it, he had to enter into a historical covenant and agreement not to alter the original integrity of the building. Anything he does has to be ok'd by the Illinois Historic Preservation Society. Mr. Frederick plans to keep it as original as he can.

From Charleston, Il, Gazette & Times-Courier.

Always good to have old buildings preserved.

Really in the Jailhouse Now. --Cooter

Lincoln Log- Paved Street in Fulton, Illinois

From a November entry in Nancy Kolk's "Glimpses of Fulton", Illinois blog.

The September 17, 1915 Fulton Journal announced that bricks had arrived on the railroad and would soon be laid from the corner of 9th Avenue along a block of First Street.

A three hundred foot 4 inch concrete foundation had already been laid and allowed to harden for 48 hours. Two inches of sand would be placed on top of it, and then the bricks installed.

The bricks were Purrington standard, 9" by 4" by 3 and a half inch thick.

I'm not sure if First Street was the Lincoln, or if this brick road still exists (perhaps covered over by asphalt now).

Bricks to me. --RoadDog

Lincoln Log--Children's Chairs in Fulton, Illinois

I came across an entry in Nancy Kolk's "Glimpses of Fulton" blog about children's willow wicker chairs made in Fulton and sold to tourists going to the Chicago World Fair in 1933.

Booths were set up by the Lincoln Highway Bridge where travelers stopped to pay toll. This was a great way to earn money during a depression. Not only was there a market, but there were also lots of willow trees along the banks of the Mississippi and nearby islands.

Carl Senkel came to Fulton in 1930 and taught locals how to make the chairs. Willows were cut into pieces with an old tobacco cutter and nailed together.

Archie Cowan had a small willow chair factory in the 300 block of 19th Avenue that operated until 1933. Henry Musk started letting the willow dry for two weeks.

The chairs sold for 35 cents to 75 cents depending upon if they were rustic, varnished, or painted. Some were even rockers. Try to buy one for that price today!!

Musk sold them at the toll booth for two years and these chairs were continuing production until 1987. An estimated 3000 were made. In 1987, the price had risen to $10.

Nancy has quite a few entries. Others of interest to roadies would be the Pointer Brewery in Clinton, Iowa, Ronald Reagan's great grandparents buried in Fulton, and the 1905 Patent Novelty Company in Fulton.

Definitely worth a look.

Keep on Down that Lincoln Highway. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Goodbye Randhurst-- Part One

Last Saturday, Liz and I went back to our old stomping grounds in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago on a trip down memory lane. I had given her my id bracelet on December 15, 1967 and we started "Going Steady."

We definitely had to go to Randhurst Mall in Mt. Prospect where we spent a lot of time back in our high school days. This was probably one the biggest high school hangouts for teens in our area.

We were checking out some of the stores when we found out at a bargain bookstore that Randhurst was going to be torn down after January 1st. This was shocking news to us. It played a big role in our past.

The three main anchor stores will be left, but the whole area in between will be demolished. It will be made into a Main Street-Style shopping center, with an additional 100,000 square feet of retail space, a 110 room hotel, and 200 apartments. It will be renamed Randhurst Village.

The reason for this is a marked decline in shoppers. In the 60s and 70s, Randhurst drew huge crowds, but it has been in a steady decline in the 90s and present. Nearby mega mall Woodfield has also hurt.

We're planning on doing one last tour of the Randhurst that we knew after Christmas.

Sad to see Such a Big Part of Our Past Go By the Way. --RoadDog

Goodbye Randhurst Part Two

A short history of Randhurst from Wikipedia.

Randhurst opened in 1962 and got its name from two of the roads that border it: Rand Road (US-12) and Elmhurst Road (Il-83). It is in Mt. Prospect, Illinois.

The original owner was Randhurst Corporation, a part of Carson Pirie Scott & Co. It was the first regional mall in Chicagoland and at one time had the largest enclosed air conditioned space in the United States.

It was designed by noted mall pioneer Victor Gruen. Instead of the standard malls at the time which had a long line of stores anchored by two major ones, Gruen designed his as an equilateral triangle with a major department store at each corner. There was a domed area over a center and stores along the sides of the triangle. Plus, there was a domed area directly over the center. Below it, there was a group of stores a half floor down.

It was built at the during the Cold War and had a fallout shelter below ground big enough to hold the entire population of Mount Prospect.

In 1962, the 1 million square foot mall opened with Wieboldt's, Carson Pirie Scott, and the Fair stores as the major stores. Other stores were Baskins, Charles A Stevens, and Woolworth's. In 1965, Montgomery Ward bought the Fair Store. In 1985, the upper floor offices were converted into a food court. It now has a beautiful merry-go-round as well.

Information from Wikipedia.

Saying Goodbye to a Great Place. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Blog for History

I have recently started a new blog for the history articles and Dead Page in an attempt to keep this one for my travels and road stuff. Preservation is still here, but will be spun off to a new blog after the first of the year.

The new history blog can be found at:

I also have two other blogs. about the Civil War, another interest. "Saw the Elephant" was the expression by Civil War soldiers on both sides when they first saw battle. about my life and other interests. This also includes a lot about favorite music.

Way Too Much Bloggin'. --RoadDog

What We Need are Some Snappy Signs

New Jersey had some of the pivotal battles of the American Revolution and baseball was invented there as well as many other notable events. Yet, New Jerseyites and visitors whiz right by them because they don't know they're there. The problem is poor directional signage.

Celebrate New Jersey, a non-profit group has a mission "to create statewide awareness and pride in things New Jersey."

There latest efforts are at "way finding"-- a single signage that alerts motorists to sites like the white H on blue background directs people to hospitals.

They don't want more signage, just better signage. There are just too many types of directional signs.

The Ocean Highway has a gull, New Jersey Turnpike has TP on a yellow and green disc.

Their website:

Always Good to See Folks Interested in Preserving and Increasing tourism. --RoadDog

Down Da 66--Honors for Joliet Museum--If You're Going to Celebrate 66, Do it on 66--Neon in Grants--No More Camelot

Some Route 66 doings.

1. The Joliet Area Historical Museum had received yet another honor. This time from the Illinois Association of Museums for their newest exhibit, "The Route 66 Experience." This is a very hands-on interactive undertaking, guaranteed to capture the interest of the young and old alike.

Joliet is commended for their continuing push of all things Route 66. We just need to get them to also do more with the Lincoln Highway, which also goes through town. Joliet is one of only two municipalities in the US that has both Route 66 and Lincoln Highway alignments. The other is nearby Plainfield.

2. The Chicago Suburban News reports that Countryside, Illinois, is planning on a Route 66 Americana/Vintage signs theme with vintage gas pumps would be just right for increasing tourism.

However, it is planned for LaGrange Road, which was never part of Route 66. Countryside's mayor, Robert Conrad wants to know why this should be put along LaGrange when an actual Route 66 alignment, Joliet Road, runs through the community: "I like the Route 66 concept. I think you're on the wrong road...we might utilize that when we jump in with Route 66."

3. The Cibola County Beacon in NM reports that Grants has received a $53,500 grant from the Federal Highway Administration, for a neon gateway to Route 66 through town.

4. Camelot is no more in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This legendary motel, built in the mid-60s (Kennedy tie-in?) was torn down earlier this month. It was built to resemble a Medieval castle complete with moat, drawbridge, and a spearhead shaped pool.

Hey, Elvis and Nixon slept here. But, Not No More, No How.

Keep on Down Da 66. --RoadDog

Lincoln Logs-- Rochelle, Il Landmark razed--Lincoln Highway News

Some bits of Lincoln Highway information.

1. The historic 1921 Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad depot in Rochelle, Illinois, was unceremoniously destroyed this last Monday. I first became aware of it on the Illinois Lincoln Highway Google e-mail group on Monday.

It had replaced an earlier 1890 station. The local tourism board was able to get some signs and a scale, but that was about it. There are no plans for the property, but the e-mail group thought they might be planning to build a fake station somewhere. The BNSF Railroad said the building contained asbestos, kind of a sad reason to tear it down if you ask me. However, the last passenger service to Rochelle was in 1971.

The depot has long been recognized as a Hub City landmark. I am very surprised that a community like Rochelle, which is obviously proud of its railroad connections, what with the Railroad Park, would allow this to happen. Most towns which have allowed their old depots to be torn down have regretted it.

There was a very short article and photo of the destruction in the Dec. 19th Rochelle News Leader.

I'm also concerned about the beautiful old depot in nearby Dekalb, that has been sitting vacant for years. Can this be far behind? Surely it has asbestos in it.

2. If you haven't been reading Brian Butko's Lincoln Highway News, you're not keeping up with what is going on along the old road.

Recent postings:

The continuing mystery of the LH western terminus marker and cemetery desecration.

The mission style Sunset Motel units in Evanston, Wyoming and what to do with them now that they have been preserved. Personally, I thing boutiques, small stores, or businesses.

The death of Robert I. Russin at age 93, the artist who created the bust of Abraham Lincoln atop the Sherman Summit in eastern Wyoming.

Vintage postcards from Idlewood Park in Ligonier, Pa.

Check it out at

Keep on Down that Old Lincoln. --RoadDog

Huntley, Illinois, Going for a "Historic Area"-- Dairy Mart

One of the fastest growing towns in Illinois today is Huntley, located on I-90 and Illinois Rt. 47. The growth is being fed by Chicagoland's continuing outward growth. It really got a boost with the construction of the outlet mall and then Dell Webb built a huge retirement village there that continues to grow. Now, Il-47 is dotted with numerous new subdivisions.

Naturally, traffic congestion is nothing short of horrible (we use Il-47 as a way to bypass Chicago when going south to Route 66 or the Lincoln Highway). They have one stoplight in particular that causes problems by the road into the old part of town. Be prepared to wait and wait some more.

We used to consider Huntley as being way out in the country until we once drove Algonquin Road from the city of the same name and found nothing but strip malls and subdivisions for most of the way. And that was about ten years ago.

Fortunately, there is a group interested in keeping as much of the "old" town as possible called the Huntley Preservation Commission which, even when unsuccessful with obtaining historic district status for the downtown, is now shooting for historic area.

To create a historic district, 51% of the people in the proposed boundaries must sign on. There are 40 along Woodstock Street from the post office to the famous Dairy Mart on Il-47.

The Dairy Mart is not really considered a historic building, but I can tell you it bears absolutely no resemblance to any major chain and some might even call it messy. But it is very intertwined with the community. Resident Catherine O'Connor said, "A Little League game would not be complete without a trip there."

Future widening of Il-47 from two to four lanes (and believe me, this is very necessary) could take some of the Dairy Mart's parking. Current owner Steve Grechis believes the structure was built in 1955.


We've eaten at the Dairy Mart and the food and shakes are fantastic. It's always crowded.

Let's Keep the Dairy Mart. --RoadDog

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Jersey's Route 9

The Manchester, NY, Times had an recent article on Route 9 which runs north-south across the state. This road is currently way over-crowded with motorists, but the congestion is not likely to get better anytime soon.

Route 9 is a free alternate to the Garden State Parkway.

In the 1920s, not many people drove from northern New Jersey to Atlantic City because of the prohibitive cost of cars. Most took trains.

During the 19th century, the road now called Route 9 was maintained by municipalities and individual landowners who put up toll collection booths at water crossings.

As the area built up with population, the towns did not find it necessary to purchase right-aways for future four lanes of traffic, and now, unfortunately, the cost would be prohibitive.

"Route 9: Turning Back the Clock" by Bill McLaughlin.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Jon Bon Jovi's "Lost Highway"

I went on Ron Warnick's Route 66 News blog today and was able to see the video to the "Lost Highway" song on Bon Jovi's new song from their new album.

It was a bit dark, but, wow, what a great song. Perfect for cruising with that dashboard Jesus. The video has lot of people got in a traffic jam, and then pull off to a small side road and take a drive.

This video got some publicity here in the Lake and McHenry counties area of Illinois. The exterior shots of the bar and road were shot at a local bar in Lakemoor, about six miles from where I live. The inetrior shots, however, were not from it as the place was deemed to be too small. These were shot at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn, Illinois. A lot of people, however, showed up at the Lakemoor Bar as word had it that Bon Jovi would be performing there.

I like the song, but would have to hear the rest of the songs before I'd buy it.

We're Getting Famous? --RoadDog

Down Da 66--Love Dem Brian Burgers-Money for Miami-Ron gets Another One, McKinley Bridge Reopens

News About the Mother Road.

1. Victorville, Ca.- The Victorville Daily Press ran an article about one of my favorite places to stop and eat on the Mother Road, Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe, dating back to the 1940s.

I went there for breakfast the day after we did a night time drive from Barstow to Victorville. I like Route 66, but not that much at night. If you're not in a town, there just isn't much to see at night. While looking at David Wickline's Images of 66, I saw some great places we'd missed and backtracked a ways so I could see the Sage Brush Inn and definitely had to see the Bottletree Ranch.

On the way back, I saw a lot of cars at the Holland Burger, and stopped in. It was early, but I had a Brian Burger, one of the best I've ever eaten. Brian Gentry's father was on kp duty peeling potatoes, and Brian was cooking while wife Shawna was waitressing. The place was crowded. You could even get a beer, but Shawna said they don't get a lot of orders for that.

The article said that locals take it for granted, but European travelers seek it out. The guest book has signatures from all over Europe and other places in the world.

It was built in 1947 in an art deco style by Kate and Bob Holland. In 1979, the Brians father bought it and the name Emma Jean added for Brian's mother. The Gentrys live in back in what I first thought was a small motel when I visited, but was told that it never had been a motel.

Rumors have it that Roy Rogers was a frequent visitor. The place has also been featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" and the movie "Kill Bill 2." I'll have to watch the movie now, even though I once saw part of the first one had had to gag my way through the part I saw. That was one dumb movie, but I have sat through dumb movies before and no doubt will again in the future.

2. Miami, Oklahoma, just watch how you pronounce it, it's not like that place in Florida. The December 11th Joplin Globe said that the city of Miami was getting a $120,000 grant from the National Scenic Byways Program, as well as $20,000 from the city, and another $10,000 from the Miami Convention and Visitors' Bureau for Route 66 signage.

Among the projects will be:

*** Restoration of a 1900 era 40 foot wide metal overhead sign on Main Street.

*** Reconstruction of a 21 foot tall Ozark Trail milepost marker that stood downtown.

*** Directional signs to Coleman Theater and the Route 66 Ribbon Highway.

*** Historical markers to explain the historical significance of sites.

I am really glad to see direction markers to that ribbon highway. My wife and I have gotten lost on more occasions than I care to remember while looking for it.

3. Ron Turner, Route 66's own personal walking advertisement, announced in the Route 66 e-mail group, that he was getting a tattoo of Lucille's, in Hydro, Oklahoma. This will make a total of 62 tattoos, 61 of which pertain to the Mother Road. He says he has five more to go to get to some magical number.

Will he stop at that number? Who knows, but I can definitely say that he is running out of places to put new ones.

I last saw him at the Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Illinois, this last September. He didn't show up for the American Road Magazine get-together at the Alamo Bar on Saturday because he was getting another tattoo!!!! Who'd a figured that!!!

4. St. Louis, Missouri-- the McKinley Bridge reopens to auto traffic today. This will be the first time in decades that it will be free. It was built in 1910 and closed due to major structural deterioration in 2001. It was an early Route 66 alignment and used until the Chain of Rocks Bridge opened in the 1930s.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Friday, December 14, 2007

Down Da 66: Clinton, Oklahoma and Springfield, Illinois

Some Route 66 News.

1. I see a posting on the Route 66 E-Mail Group that the city of Clinton, Oklahoma is planning on having a follow up to this year's highly successful Route 66 International Festival. This went a long way toward putting it on the map for 66 enthusiasts who all reported a great time. Plus, it heightened the local people's appreciation of its Route 66 heritage.

Unfortunately, they are planning to have it June 27-28th, the same time the International Festival has its run in Litchfield, Illinois. Too bad that they can't pick another weekend to avoid possible conflicts.

Springfield Illinois, hosted the first two International festivals in 2002 and 2003, and continue having their own highly successful celebration every year since. Each year, more and more people attend and cars get registered.

2. Speaking of Springfield, Illinois, I missed this story out of the Springfield Journal-Register from last August, but there was discussion about tying the Abraham Lincoln Home and Route 66 together.

The thought was to make a Route 66 interpretive center on 9th Street, one of the road's original alignments and a few blocks from the Lincoln home. Let's hope something came out of it. I'll have to look the next time I'm in town getting those Cozy Dogs, staying at the Route 66 Hotel, and enjoying Capital City and the Curve Inn.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lincoln Logs--The Archway, the Bank, and "Give Me the Money,"

Some Lincoln Highway items.

1. The Lazy Blogger posted on 12-7 about a trip to the Great Platte River Archway Monument by KEARNEY, NEBRASKA which opened in 2000. Evidently, it was made off-site and they had to close I-80 for 8 hours while they put it in place. And I had always thought they built it on an overpass that was no longer used.

It was the dream of former Nebraska governor Frank B. Morison and was designed by a Walt Disney team in Orlando, Fl.

It traces movement through this part of Nebraska from the earliest white exploration all the way through the Lincoln Highway.

The Miami Herald has recently listed the arch as being one of the top ten kid museums in the nation. I'm not surprised by that since it was designed by the good folks from Walt Disney.

They recently were able to acquire bricks from an old section of the Lincoln Highway in Canton, Ohio, which they will display.

We did not stop at it on our way back from California last fall as we were tired of being on the road. We tuned in to their radio station and when we heard it cost about $10 to visit, decided we didn't want to give the time to get our money's worth. Definitely next time.

To view the whole entry:

2. Plans are afoot to tear down the old and vacant National City Bank at the corner of 4th and Lincoln Highway in DEKALB, ILLINOIS. I talked with some of my fellow Illinois L-Hers and found out that the building is not archetecturally significant, having been built around the 1950s and that it is at a very dangerous intersection, where railroad tracks are also located.

It sounds like the city plans to build a park at the site, which would be acceptable. They did a great job with the one at 1st and LH.

3. Senator Dick Durbin of ILLINOIS announced that there will be $2,023,372 in grants given out to the seven Illinois National Scenic Highways.

Happy to report that the Lincoln received the largest single amount, $353,4000 for implementation of Phase II of the interpretive plan for 40 murals in 40 communities.

Also of interest, the Ohio River Scenic Byway and Great River Road Byway in Cairo is getting $275,000 to reconstruct Fort Defiance at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. This is going to be part of the $2.6 million that Cairo is putting up to make things better. We visited this community a few years ago and it was sad to see what has happened to this once-great city. Let's hope things get better.

Well, At Least One of Our Illinois Senators is Doing Something for the State. --RoadDog

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Illinois Class of Battleships

While researching the Iowa Class, I came across the first USS Wisconsin battleship that was commissioned in 1901 and sold for scrap in 1922.

It was one of three Illinois Class battleships. The third one was the USS Alabama. These warships mounted four 13-inch guns and had crews of 660. They more closely resembled Spanish-American War battleships than the ones that came after them.

The USS Illinois was commissioned in September, 1901, and scrapped in 1956. It is really too bad the state of Illinois did not purchase this ship and turn it into a museum. The only Spanish-American War-era battleship I know of is the USS Brooklyn, which is tied up opposite the USS New Jersey on the Delaware River. This ship and a submarine were tied up right next to where the dinner ship is docked. I got to see it, but didn't have time to go on it.

Love Dem Big Ol' Ships. --RoadDog

Whatever Happened to the Iowa Class Battleships?

These four ships, in my opinion, are the very epitome of naval architecture, the end of the old ships-of-the-line. The most powerful ships ever launched. The direct ancestors of the USS Monitor and its revolutionary design.

I have seen the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor, and this past October, went for a dinner cruise while visiting Philadelphia, and we left from a place across the Delaware River from the USS New Jersey. Both ships are currently floating museums. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to go on either vessel, but will definitely do so if I ever get the opportunity.

But what about the ship that gave the class its name, the USS Iowa, or the USS Wisconsin? Where are they?

The USS Wisconsin BB 64 is currently in Virginia awaiting donation to some group (I would hope in its name state). It was last decommissioned in 1991, after the Persian Gulf War. It functions as a museum ship for the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

Of interest, in the 1950s, the bow of the Wisconsin was badly damaged in a collision with another naval ship. The bow of the never-finished USS Kentucky was used to replace it.

The USS Iowa BB 61, the lead ship of the class is currently in San Francisco waiting to be adopted by some organization. It is the only ship of the class that the public can not visit.

Of interest, the Iowa made headlines in 1989 when there was an explosion in turret #2 that killed 47 crew members.

Both the Iowa and Wisconsin are up for adoption, but with particulars. Neither ship can be altered in any way that might impair its future military use, they must be preserved, and have to be able to be returned to service in case of national emergency.

I'd sure like to see both ships become museums in the states that gave them their names, but, I don't know that the Iowa would be able to navigate the Mississippi River and I'm not sure about getting the Wisconsin to Lake Michigan.

Love Them Great Big Ol' Ships. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Medal of Honor Winners Are Dying

This past year, five Congressional Medal of Honor winners died.

World War II

Silvestre Herrera
Jefferson J. BeBlanc
Eugene B. Flucking
Jay Zomer

Korean War

Raymond G. Murphy

Pearl Harbor Survivors Association

In 1958, a national organization consisting of military personnel at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was formed. They took the name of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. However, their numbers are dwindling and its days are fast coming to an end.

They have now formed a Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.

At the Marine Corps breakfast to honor the its birthday, a man got up and said he was a past president of this organization.

Their website:

`Pearl Harbor-- 66 Years Later--New USS Oklahoma Monument

Yesterday, at Pearl Harbor, a few dozen survivors of each battleship took turns setting wreaths before life preservers bearing the names of their ships.

Charles A. Smith, 83, was on the USS Oklahoma standing watch when he saw the Japanese planes. "One plane came in, circles, came right down to us. The guy opened the hatch to his plane and dropped his torpedo, waved at me and took off. The next thing I knew there was a big explosion." The Oklahoma was the first battleship to be hit by a torpedo.

Smith jumped overboard and just missed getting squashed by the capsizing battleship. A total of 429 sailors and Marines lost their lives on the Oklahoma.

Yesterday, a $1.2 million monument was dedicated to the Oklahoma's victims. There are 429 marble standards, each with the name of a fallen hero, surrounded by black granite panels.

Eighteen Oklahoma survivors of the estimated 90 still alive attended the ceremony as did Oklahoma's Governor Brad Henry.

On Board the Pennsylvania-- Everett Hyland was ferrying ammunition to an antiaircraft gun when a bomb hit and threw him down. The battleship was in dry dock, but even then suffered 15 killed and 30 wounded.

OTHER PEARL HARBOR NEWS-- the Visitor Center, which is built on land fill in what, at the time of the attack, was part of the harbor. Over the years, the structure has slowly been sinking into the water. A major building project is currently underway.

From Yahoo News. I was surprised the Chicago Tribune did not have an article about it.

Valiant Men and Women. We are Quickly Losing the Greatest Generation.

Friday, December 7, 2007

December 7th, A Day That Shall Live in Infamy

Today marks the sad occasion of events that transpired at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 66 years ago.

I always spent two days discussing it in class while I was teaching.

This is a day that I honor not just those at Pearl Harbor, but all vets. Today, the American Legion here in Fox Lake, Illinois, hosted a party for veterans from the nearby North Chicago VA Hospital. They were treated to gifts and a full turkey dinner as well as karaoke, which they really enjoyed. I helped served food and drinks, just my own little way of saying thanks.

The advent of WWII had a huge impact on Route 66 which became a major conduit for troops and war material from the east and Midwest to the west coast for the fight against the Japanese. Gas rationing had an impact on American travel as well.

Route 66 had another link to Pearl Harbor, as the Schofield Barracks on Oahu came under attack. They were named for Union General John McAllister Schofield, who, while a major at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, received a Medal of Honor for leading a regiment against Confederate forces.

For more on the story, see

My Full Support for the Men and Women in America's Armed Forces, both Past and Present. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 6, 2007

WW II Deaths: Patrick Ryan and Richard Brandes

PATRICK J. RYAN 1925-2007

Army stint led entrepreneur to electronics

Patrick J. Ryan died Oct. 22nd in Palatine at age 82.

He grew up in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, but never attended high school as he was helping his family during the Great Depression. He lied about his age and joined the Army at age 16.

He commanded a light tank in the 3rd Armored Division in North Africa and landed at Omaha Beach during D-Day. The landing craft carrying his tank stopped too far out. His daughter said, "He lost his first tank there in about 28 feet of water." Only nine of the 35 tanks in his group made it to the beach. Later, he helped liberate concentration camps.

He founded Ryan & Associates representing electronics companies. He had two other companies in the late 50s and 60s. After retirement in 1990, he became a volunteer at Jane Addams School in Palatine for 14 years. He helped in many ways, but especially talked with the students every Veterans Day.

Nov. 1st Chicago Tribune. by Graydon Megan


Exec locked Elgin watch factory on its last day

Richard H. "Dick" Brandes died Oct. 26th at age 84.

Mr. Brandes was born and raised in Elgin, Illinois, and began working at the famous Elgin National Watch Company's assembly line upon graduation from high school in 1941. The next year, he married Shirley, his wife of 45 years.

During WWII he served in the Army Air Force as bombardier aboard B-24s and B-29s and rose to the rank of second lieutenant.

After the war, he returned home and resumed working for the watch company, but continued in the Air Force Reserve until 1955.

He was stricken by polio at age 27 and took a leave of absence from work. After a year of intense physical therapy he was back at work as a plant manager at the company's factory in Lincoln, Nebraska. He remained there for three years and returned to Elgin where he became a vice president.

In 1966 Mr. Brandes helped close the 102-year-old Elgin Watch factory and had the honor of being the "Last Man Out." His daughter said, "He locked everything up the day the Elgin watch factory closed its doors."

Elgin watches were known for their high quality, but people began buying cheaper ones.

He remained another three years shutting down various other divisions of the company.

During the late 60s and 70s, he worked as a plant manager for Automatic Electric in Genoa and then as a part-time real estate broker. For the last five years he battle Alzheimer's.

As the obituary noted, Mr. Brandes was definitely a man of perserverance.

Nov. 1st Chicago Tribune by Joan Giangrasse Kates.

Both these men are great examples of the "Greatest Generation", the one that lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Unfortunately, we are fast losing them. These men represent the best that America has to offer.

Going Overseas-- St. Pancras and the Red Baron

A couple of interesting articles from over the Atlantic.

1. LONDON-- Abandoned by England's rail system, bombed by the Nazis, almost destroyed in the mid-60s, and listed as a Grade 1 historical building (the same as Westminster Abbey), the grand old railroad station sat and deteriorated for decades, but, it is back and in a big way.

Considered to be a cathedral more than a train station, its rebirth came about because of high-speed train travel. It is to be the terminus for the Eurostar which links London with the mainland by way of the English Channel Tunnel. This train runs from Paris to Calais, on the coast at speeds of close to 200 mph. It slows in the tunnel, then continues to St. Pancras. The whole trip takes 2 hours and ten minutes after the $10 billion stretch of English high-speed track has been completed and the terminus shifted from Waterloo to St. Pancras.

Over the past six years over $1.6 billion has been spent in St. Pancras' renovation. The station's undercroft, where once barrels of beer were stored, has been turned into a passenger lounge. The main floor features what is billed as the world's longest champagne bar at 315 feet. There is also a farmers market, two fancy restaurants, retail outlets, and a gastro-pub.

The station still has the grand Gothic spires that spoke of the glories of Britain's Victorian Age of train travel. Plus the great iron and glass train shed is still there.

Perhaps, if our money ever becomes worthwhile again, I'll have to visit this place.

Nov. 4th Chicago Tribune "Grand, beloved rail station finally gets back on track" by Tom Hundley.

2. SWIDNICA, POLAND--Baron von Richtofen, better known as the Red Baron is well known throughout the world, but until recently, he was not in his home town of Swidnica, Poland. A big part of this is because of Nazi attrocities in Poland during WWII when 6 million Poles were killed.

The borders between Germany and Poland have shifted often and that is how the Baron's home came to be in Poland.

Baron Manfred von Richtofen was the top flying ace of WWI, shooting down 80 Allied aircraft before dying before his 26th birthday in 1918.

Swidnica resident Jerzy Gaszynski is trying to change that. "I think that with a figure this well-known around the world, it's a bit of a sin that he's not even that well lnown here and that there's really no effort to remember him."

This past June he erected a plaque that he sculpted in the garden of the Richtofen family home.

Dec, 3rd Daily Herald "A proper tribute to the Red Baron" Associated Press

Great to See History Preserved. --RoadDog

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cooter's Illinois Preservation/History Alley

In a short while I will be moving this to a different blog, but for now....


1. SPRINGFIELD-- Lincoln's Tomb is going green. A geothermal heating and cooling system is being installed at the Lincoln Tomb to reduce energy usage and increase visitor comfort. Attendance at the site averages around 375,000 annually and folks come from all over the world. The state was aided by a $25,000 energy grant.

2. Illinois' LINCOLN BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION is encouraging municipalities to submit events at . They report that they have seriously upgraded their site.

3. Great news out of CHICAGO. A whole lot of places and even a district have been recommended to the city council for landmark status. This is a step in the right direction to saving the sites. However, it still has to be ok'd, so, for now, we'll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

The Dover Street District in the Uptown neighborhood is on the list. It is "a visually distinctive collection of suburban-style single-family homes" dating from 1893-1923. This area was annexed to Chicago in 1889. There are 88 property owners and so far 55 have agreed to district status.

Twelve rare "moveable" railroad bridges are also nominated.

Three LaSalle Street buildings are on it as well: the art deco Vesseman Building, the Roanoke Building and Tower-an example of early Chicago highrise, and the Continental Bank.

An old fire station and the Coast Guard Station at the mouth of the Chicago River are also candidates.

4. LAKE SHORE ATHLETIC CLUB-- More good news. We thought we had lost this one, but it is saved by a deal to turn it into luxury senior citizen housing. There will be an $80 million rehabilitation and 139 residential units. This is one beautiful old building.

Save That Old Stuff!! --Cooter

Lincoln Logs--Sign Dedication, Clarence, Happy 15th, and PBS on the Road

News along the Lincoln Highway.

1. LATROP, CA.-- a Lincoln Highway sign will be dedicated by the Lt. Governor on December 8th at the Wiggins Trading Post which was established in 1924 for Central valley motorists.

In 1932, Francis Wiggins started selling Indian Head gas as he held the patent to the blend. He also sold Indian souvenirs and trinkets (made in China?) . Previously he had been a setup man for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

His grandson operates the Wiggins Trading Post in Chilcoat, Ca..

2. CLARENCE, IOWA-- the Clarence Lincoln Highway Committee and Clarence business community hosted the first-ever Christmas in Clarence celebration this past weekend at the American Legion.

The LH Committee is also preparing for Clarence's sesquicentennial coming up in 2009. The committee was formed in 1997 to organize a summer festival, but expanded beyond that and now has enhancing the city as a goal.

Obviously, the Lincoln Highway connection is very strong. They still have a Lincoln Highway Festival every year.

3. A big Happy 15th Birthday wish to the Lincoln Highway Association which was reformed in 1993 and has ever-since worked diligently at furthering our historic highway.

4. PBS CHICAGO-- is on the road, and not just any road, but our dear old Lincoln. Gianufer Fields took a trip across Iowa this past fall and her reports are now airing. Her goal, to stop at every attraction along the way.

She started at the Nebraska-Iowa border at the Harrison County Historical Museum.

You can either read the transcript or listen to the reports. Many photos accompany.

You can get to the site at: .

Go to the arts/culture section.

5. In UNRELATED News-- Max Baer turned 70 a few days ago. You may know him better as that cipherin' whiz-kid on Beverly Hillbillies.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

That's One Old and EXPENSIVE Car

Records were broken in the past few days when the world's oldest surviving Rolls-Royce, a 1904 20154, was sold at auction for the pittance of $7.22 million, let's write it out, $7,220,000!!!!! At that price it is sure hoped that it will get good gas mileage. probably will with that awesome 10 hp engine.

That was the most-ever for a pre-1905 vehicle (previous $3.5 million for an 1884 De Dion Bouton. It was also the most ever paid for a Rolls.

This was the fourth-ever car produced by Charles Rolls and Henry Royce. The open-topped two seater was thoroughly restored in the 1950s and is in perfect condition and is a runner. Drive that right over to your local McDonald's for some McRibs.

They also know all of the car's previous owners.

I Think That if I Had $7.2 Mil Lying Around...I'd Do Something Else with It. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What Happened to the Historic Milestone in Wilton, Ct?

It stood there from the colonial years of our country until recently on Route 7, but it is no longer there. It is named Number 4 because it denoted that it is 4 miles from Norwalk's post office. It was used to determine postage due.

It is inscribed:


There are eight still in place in town. Number 4 once stood in front of the Milestone Garage which operated from 1921 to 1970.

However, this story has a happy ending. It was taken down by the town while nearby office construction goes on and will be returned to its place afterwards.

Nov. 19th Wilton Bulletin "Historic milestone's disappearance from Route 7 in Wilton is only temporary" by Brian Shea.

Here a Stone There a Stone... --RoadDog

Monday, December 3, 2007

One Remarkable Lady: Sarah Josepha Hale

I have to admit I'd never heard of this woman before, but had I known about her, I definitely would have made a day's lesson about her life and times and the role of women. I'd have taught it right around Thanksgiving and you'll see the reason later. Had she only done that, that would have been worthy, but, then there were all of her other accomplishments. Again, one REMARKABLE LADY.

What brought her to my attention was Little Steven in his Underground Garage radio show that I listen to on Chicago's WXRT Monday nights at 10 PM, right after another favorite show of mine, Tom Marker's Bluesbreakers. WXRT streams live and I highly suggest you listen to these shows, although Little Steven is syndicated so may be on a show in your area.

Sarah Josepha Hale was Little Steven's Freak of the Week, an honor that he gives to one person, usually someone who few have ever heard of.

Here is what Little Steven had to say:

What do you do with the person responsible for having Thanksgiving as a national holiday? A person who earned a college degree without going to class? Taught school to support her five children when women weren't allowed to teach school and wrote the lyrics to "Mary Had a Little Lamb?" What do you do with a person like that? You make her Freak of the Week.

Sarah Josepha Hale was born Sarah Buehl on a farm in Newport, NH, October 24, 1788. She loved education, but in those days, women went maybe as far as high school. Her brother went to Dartmouth College and would teach her what he learned every single day which he deserves some rather serious recognition himself.

At 18, she wanted to teach, but society said women don't teach, so she started a private school and taught there.

She married a lawyer named David Hale and starts writing articles and gets published in a local paper. Her husband dies suddenly and leaves her with five kids so she goes back to teaching.

But in 1827 writes a book called "Northwoods, a Tale of New England." This was so impressive, she was made editor of a magazine called "American Ladies Magazine."

She then went on to start the Seaman's Society to help feed and house and provide job skills to destitute women. She campaigned for women to be able to be physicians which she won.

She got Vassar to have female instructors and female administrators. She campaigned tirelessly for child welfare, women's rights, and other civic causes.

Meanwhile, George Washington had issued a presidential proclamation to declare Thanksgiving a national event, but Thomas Jefferson canceled it, saying, "Who cares about a couple Pilgrims picking birdshot out of their teeth?" That is a quote. (Little Steven has a sense of humor.)

Sarah went after Abe Lincoln and wouldn't let up until he made it official which he finally did in 1863.

And, in her spare time, she wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

I also found out she helped raise money to build the Bunker Hill Monument and, during WWII, a Liberty ship was named after her.

Again, One REALLY Remarkable Woman. --RoadDog

Couldn't Get to Blog Saturday

I don't know why, but sometimes I just can't get to the blog to make entries. Something about a popup blocked. Just burns me when I'm ready to type, but there will be no typing TODAY.

To Type or Not to Type, That is the Question. --RoadDog

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Came Across a Great Blog

Today, I came across an interesting blog that I immediately put on my favorites.

It is called "Shorpy the 100 Yeay-Old Photo Blog. If you like old photos and advertising, this is a place you will definitely want to check out.

It is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a boy who worked in Alabama's coal mines at the turn of last century.

You will enjoy the vintage photos, which recently had one of a migrant child in Muskogee, Oklahoma back in 1937.

Also, check out the "New on Plan 59" site.

Well Worth a Look. --RoadDog

Cooter's Preservation Alley-- Frank Lloyd Wright Building gets $80,000

Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois, recently received an $80,000 grant from American Express' Partners in Preservation program. A month-long online vote was taken for 25 nominated sites in the Chicagoland area.

The Pui Tak Center in Chicago's Chinatown was the top vote-getter and received the full amount of their request, $110,000.

Unity Temple ended up in the top ten. All sites after first place received some money, the bottom ten getting $5000 each. Unity Temple received $80,000 of the $150,00 it wanted. The money will be used to repair the roof draining system which has 19 different levels and has always been a major problem.

Some More Good News. --RoadDog

Cooter's Preservation Alley

Eventually, I will be moving this to another blog, but for now, here I go.

I have some good and not-so-good news in the world of preservation.


1. MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA-- a $10 million fund based on matching grants has been set up to help restore and preserve historic sites and building in the Miami-Dade area. This is a first, even though in the past, $44 million was given for the preservation of the Viscaya Museum and Gardens.

Grant applications will be reviewed and the amount given based on the property's value. Over $700,000 can get up to the maximum $250,000.

2. BERWYN, ILLINOIS-- Ken and Mary Mottet bought a home seven years ago that was in bad shape, but its historic significance and unique character caused them to take the plunge.

They have been awarded Berwyn's Historical Society's Preservation Award for this year and earlier, had their 1937 art moderne home on the National Register of Historic Places.

Their home is located in the 3700 block of Curler Avenue. It was inspired by the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago and would be classified as art deco.

They have spent a lot of time and money on it. A picture accompanied the article "Art moderne home given preservation recognition" by Cari Brokamp, Nov. 28th.

And you thought Berwyn was all Bungalows. I sure did.


The MAIN STREET Programs in LIBERTYVILLE and WINFIELD, ILLINOIS may soon ride off into the sunset, both victims in cuts of village funding.

Funding in Libertyville was cut to $10,000 this year and the program itself could be a victim of its own success. There are those who think it is no longer needed. Anyone who has been for a visit knows that its downtown is as vibrant and bustling now as it ever was.

WINFIELD'Ss Main Street program was cut entirely by the village board. In order to remain in the Main street program, according to its sponsor, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at least some of the funding must come from the municipality.

Libertyville and Winfield are two of Illinois' 67 Main Street communities. The main objective of these towns is to preserve and revitalize downtowns.

To my way of thinking, strip malls and big box stores are not capable of replacing a town's heart, and that is its downtown district. Let's hope the village boards come to their senses and realize what an asset being a Main Street Community is.

Well, Win Some, Lose Some. --Cooter

Down Da 66-- Edmonds, Ok to Push 66

The Mayor of Edmonds, Ok, a suburb of Oklahoma City, will be attending a Mayors Institute of City design at Washington University in St. Louis. Edmonds is only the third Oklahoma city to be involved in this, the other two being OKC and Tulsa.

Dan O'Neal, the mayor, in an article in the Nov, 26th Edmond Sun, said he is interested in making his city's five mile stretch more Route 66ish. There really isn't much there that would make a person think of Route 66. He says he is impressed with all the publicity nearby Arcadia is getting for Pops and the Round Barn, and would like Edmonds to get in on it.

I've been through Edmonds on several occasions and would have to agree with the mayor.

Let's hope something comes out of this.

Any Old Thing for the Road. --RoadDog

Dead Page

From time to time, I come across the obituaries of people who I believe have had an impact on America, or have led interesting lives. While I was a teacher, I had my kids to a current events page. Very often, it would include obituaries, so often, in fact, that theycame to call the Current Events page the Dead Page which is why I continue the name here.


His forklift design averted back woes. Businessman had a knack for refitting machines to move heavy objects

Nov. 13th Chicago Tribune. By Patricia Trebe.

Carl Thorkelson died Nov. 10th in Oak Brook.

He was always thinking of new ways to move things. During WWII, he enlisted in the Army Air Force because he wanted to fly. He flew B-17 bombers in the 8th Air Force with the 100th Bomb Group which came to be known as the Bloody 100 because of their heavy losses.

After the war, he got his degree at the University of Chicago.

He was involved in several businesses, and invented the Thork-Lift, a machine that lifts heavy material from the floor to waist height.

I always thought they were called fork-lifts.


Measurer of hurricanes. Structural Engineer created 5-category system used to classify storm strengths.

Associated Press. In Nov. 24th Chicago Tribune

Herbert Saffir died November 21st at age 90.

A structural engineer who, in 1969, created a scale for the first time to determine the potential damage from approaching hurricanes. Since then, this has been the way all hurricanes are classified. Categories went from 1, where trees and unanchored mobile homes get the most damage to Category 5, the worst damage.

In the 1970s, it was expanded byNational Hurricane director Robert Simpson and became known as the Saffir-Simpson scale.

So, next hurricane season, when you see the poor Weather Channel folks standing out in the wind and rain and say Category 2 or 3, you'll know where it came from.

Chicago's Beehive Building

Next time you're in Chicago, if you look up 457 feet to the top of the Metropolitan Building at 310 S. Michigan, you will see a 20 foot high beehive that is a blue glow at night. The building is commonly referred to as the Beehive Building and was built in 1924, designed by Graham, Anderserson, Probst & White. It was originally called the Straus Building. For the last 20 years, it was the Britannica Centre after the encyclopedia publisher.

The original owners, the S.W. Straus & Co., an investment banking firm, lost it in the Great depression.

The light, all 20 feet of it, sits atop a pyramid that represents the Egyptians, four carved bison that represent American strength and the Straus family interest in the continental US, and the beehive the industriousness of bees.

Then there is a massive carillon consisting of four huge bells ranging in size from 1500 pounds to three and a half tons that play Handel's "Cambridge Quarters."

So, next time in Chicago, look up. As if you'd have to be reminded to do that in downtown Chicago.

Nov. 15th Chicago Tribune "Blue light special" by Emily Nunn.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No.... --RoadDog

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Down Da 66-- Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives Goes to Route 66

Yesterday, while visiting friends at the local American Legion, I noticed one TV on the Food Channel that kept showing Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives." Turns out, it was a marathon.

I've been meaning to watch his show since I was in Springfield for the Route 66 Festival back in September. He was filming a bit on one of our favorite places to eat in town, Charlie Parker's. It will show sometime in January or February.

Went home and watched it. One episode featured Clanton's in Venita, Oklahoma. We ate there after seeing that great "Eat" sign outside, but DID NOT eat one of their specialties, their calf fries after learning what they were. The restaurant dates back to 1927, but the present building was built in 1999 after the original burned down. Great food here.

Then, Fieri did a whole thirty minute episode on Route 66 eateries. Happy to report that we had eaten at every one of them. He started in Victorville, Ca, at Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe dating to the 1940s. I had that great Brian Burger, one of the best burgers I've ever eaten.

Then, on to Stroud, Oklahoma, for a meal at the Rock Cafe (1939). He talked a lot with the owner Dawn Welch, who was the inspiration for Sally the Porsche in the movie "Cars."

Last stop was at a place we ended up at by accident, the Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs, Kansas (1998). It is in the building where a bank was robbed by Jesse James and Cole Younger in 1876. We had originally wanted to eat at Bill Murphey's place across the street, but it was closed. This was one of the best meals we've ever had and prepared by an executive chef. I doubt that we will ever get around to eating at Murphey's now, as we're going to the Cafe.

Looks like I will be making an effort to watch Fieri's show from now on.

Sure Made Me Hungry. --RoadDog

No More Ralph's Newstand in Dekalb, Illinois

DEKALB, ILLINOIS-- From Brian Butko's Lincoln Highway News, a Dekalb landmark for 55 years closed this past Friday. Ralph's Newstand at the corner of 7th Street and Lincoln Highway is no more.

Ralph Seats owned and operated the place from 1952 until his death last year at age 83. It was originally in the 600 block of Lincoln, but moved to its present location.

This place was like an old-time general store and would have to be described as cluttered to the max. Reminded me of the Smith Brothers store in Clinton, Iowa.

I visited this store many times while a student at NIU from 1969-1973 as well as visits after graduating. I particularly went for Ralph's little stand of 45s that had previously been played on jukeboxes. These sold for 39 cents instead of the usual 99 cents at that time. Many were in very good shape, but you had to really look the records over because some were scratched or worn very badly. They all had a little hole punched in the label to indicate jukebox use. I bought many, many, many of these records which helped me greatly when I started deejaying in 1982.

My wife Liz and her roommate Debbie bought the infamous Burt Reynolds poster in Cosmo Magazine there in 1972. It's the one featuring him with no clothes except an arm strategically placed. This was the hot thing for girls to collect. No other place in Dekalb had it (all sold out). They got last one at Ralph's. Those wild co-eds.

Upon graduation, Debbie inherited it. I wonder if she still has it?

Of course, like the mom and pop motels and record stores, these newstands are fast riding off into the sunset.

Life Goes On. Goodbye Ralph's. --RoadDog

Friday, November 23, 2007

Down Da 66--Grants, We're #2, and Gas Pumps

Some recent news from Route 66.

1. CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY-- Route 66 sociologists who have led four student trips along Route 66 in the past five years have received a federal grant. Unfortunately, I couldn't find out any other information on it. However, I commend these professors. Anytime we can get the younger generation interested and even knowledgeable about old roads, that is a GOOD thing.

2. UK MOTORCYCLISTS RANK 66 NUMBER 2-- In a survey by Bennets Insurance and published on the UK's Motorcycle News, our road came up in second place with 27% of the vote. Number one was the 250 mile long Great Ocean Road in southern Australia. Third place was of interest, Southeast Asia's Ho Chi Minh Trail.

I didn't know that the Ho Chi Minh Trail was still open, but sure heard about it a lot during the Vietnam War. US troops being sent into Cambodia to attack this trail was what prompted the Kent State Massacre and the resulting turmoil on college campuses across the US back in 1970.

I can personally attest to how great a drive the Great Ocean Drive is, having toured that back in 2003. If you ever get to Melbourne, visit it.

3. JOLIET, ILLINOIS-- As part of their "Joliet Kicks on Rt. 66" campaign, five different fiberglass replica gas pumps have been placed around town. Each has a placard in back describing the significance of its location. They are located at:

Texaco by the Rialto
Mobil at the Joliet Area Historical Museum
Sinclair at the Will County Court House
Standard Oil at the intersection of Chicago and Cass streets.
Shell in the Route 66 Park

This was made possible in part by a $150,000 Attraction Grant from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.

They also have a "Joliet Kicks on Rt 66" lighted ice cream cone at the Rich and Creamy Ice Cream stand next to the Route 66 Park, and a 12 foot tall "Joliet Kicks on Rt 66" shield in the park.

Personally, I would have liked to see a "Joliet Licks on Rt 66" sign at the ice cream stand. Pretty good play on words.

Now, if we could just get Dairy Queen to buy their original store, also located on Route 66 in Joliet. This would make a great place for a company museum.

However, Joliet is one Route 66 city that has definitely embraced its heritage. Congratulations.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

While on the Subject of Las Vegas

While looking for information as to whether Siegfried and Roy had performed their magic show at the Frontier (I never found it listed, but Liz and I are very sure this is where we saw it), I came across a list of when the casinos opened along the Strip on the Siegfried and Roy site.

I found it of interest and will list the dates here:

1941-- El Rancho became the first resort to open
1946-- Flamingo
1950-- Desert Inn
1952-- Sahara, Sands
1955-- Riviera, Dunes
1957-- Tropicana
1958-- Aladdin, Caesar's Palace
1989-- Mirage

How many of them are no longer with us? Off-hand, I think El Rancho, Desert Inn, Sahara, Sands, Dunes, and Aladdin are gone.

Hey, Ya Gotta Save Something. --RoadDog

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day of Thanksgiving

The November 20th Chicago Tribune had an article covering the history of the day we're celebrating.

It is more than a day or two off work or school. And I notice more and more schools getting off on Wednesday. It is more than the day before Black Friday, that shopping juggernaut that keeps opening doors earlier and earlier. Kohl's and JC Penney's open at 4 AM tomorrow and one place opens at midnight. Plus, Meijer's and K Mart were open today.

It is more than the two NFL games and college basketball invitationals.

It's history can be traced even before the traditional 1621 date. Two years earlier, 38 settlers at Berkeley Plantation, about 20 miles upriver from Jamestown, gave thanks for their safe arrival in the New World. However, this was a religious celebration, not a secular one.

Some other Thanksgiving facts.

1. The presidential turkey pardon is believed to have begun with Abraham Lincoln at the bequest of his son Tad. Others have it beginning with Harry Truman in 1947. Of late, the pardoned birds have found their way to Disneyland, and they didn't even have to win a super bowl.

2. It was held twice in 1815, probably also to celebrate the end of the War of 1812.

3. The Pilgrims' Thanksgiving lasted for three days. It was never written down as to exactly what they ate. Wild turkey was a possibility and the Indians brought five deer. There definitely would not have been mashed potatoes, cranberries, or pumpkin pie. Plus, since there were no forks, they either ate with spoons or their hands. What would Mom say?

4. Thanksgiving as we celebrate it, did not originate with any one event. It is a combination of the traditional New England Puritan Thanksgiving which was religious in nature. It also came from the harvest celebration of England and New England.

5. The Pilgrims never repeated it. It was just the one time.

6. There had been six days of Thanksgiving proclaimed by the Federal government before Abraham Lincoln. The first was by George Washington in 1789. Going back farther, the Continental Congress called for one in 1777.

Lincoln proclaimed it to be the last Thursday of November on October 3, 1863, right in the midst of the Civil War. Before that time, its observance was left up to the states and celebrated at many different times.

7. In 1939, FDR pushed it up a week to provide for a longer Christmas shopping season for hard-pressed merchants suffering from the Great Depression. This caused major problems as school calendars were already set. In 1942, Congress declared it to be the fourth Thursday from then on.

8. Minnesota led the US in turkey production with 46 million.

9. In 2005, the average American consumed 13.1 pounds of turkey annually.

10. Three US towns are named Turkey with the largest being in Texas at 489 people.

11. I wonder how many accidents are going to be caused by deep-fried turkeys this year. That is the best way to eat a turkey.

You can find out more about Thanksgiving at

Please Pass the Turkey. --RoadDog

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The End of Las Vegas' Frontier

I was very sad to see the end of the Las Vegas, Nv., New Frontier last week. This is the second famous Vegas casino to come down this year, the Stardust having been imploded back in March.

It started as the Pair-O-Dice in 1930, then the Ambassador in 1936. The name was changed again in 1939 to the 91 Club because of its location on US Highway 91. In 1942, it became the Last Frontier.

On April 4th, 1955, it became the New Frontier after a major modernization.

It was the Strip's second casino and the first themed resort as a cowboy town and known for its cheap rooms.

Elvis Presley had his first Las Vegas appearance at the Frontier in 1958. Diana Ross and the Supremes had their final performance on January 14, 1970. For years, it was the home of Siegfried and Roy's white tigers and magic act. My wife and I saw it, but weren't too impressed with it. Plus, it was way over-priced.

In 1967, it was purchased by Howard Hughes and the name shortened to Frontier. It was the scene of the longest-ever strike by the Culinary Workers Local 226 from 1991 to 1998.

It closed July 16, 2007. The sixteen story hotel came down at 2:30 AM through the imploding effect of 1000 pounds of dynamite. It was quite an elaborate ceremony.

It will be replaced with an 8 billion dollar resort.

David Schwartz, the director of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV summed up my feelings pretty-well when he said, "It's another budget option on the Strip that's gone. The future is really high end."

Plus, it would appear that Las Vegas has little care as to its heritage. I give the city low marks in preservation.

We were there in the fall of 2006 and just don't like the new Strip. It is way too expensive and upscale for us "regular folk." Thankfully, Slots-A-Fun and Circus-Circus are still there, but I'm sure their days are numbered.

Looks Like We'll be Staying Downtown. --RoadDog

Dead Page

Dick Wilson 1916-2007

Actor Best Known as Mr. Whipple

The catch-phrase "Please Don't Squeeze the Charmin" made the toilet paper pitchman a pop culture fixture

Toilet paper fans everywhere are in mourning today at the passing of probably one of the most famous people in the genre, Dick Wilson, died yesterday at age 91.

He was born in England and moved to Canada. During WWII, he served in the Canadian Air Force, and became an American citizen in 1954.

From 1964 to 1985, he appeared in over 500 commercials telling shoppers "Please don't squeeze the Charmin." In 1978 he was ranked as the third most recognizable American behind Richard Nixon and Billy Graham. Not bad for a guy pitching toilet paper. He admitted the premise was rather silly, but, "What are you going to say about toilet paper?"

He appeared in two movies with Don Knotts: "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" and "The Shakiest Gun in the West." He played a drunk in several episodes of "Bewitched" as well as appearances on "Hogan's Heroes" and "The Bob Newhart Show."

In 1985, he quipped with "the kind of pictures they're making today, I'll stick with toilet paper."

I must admit to going into grocery stores and grabbing a four pack of Charmin and looking over my shoulder to see if Mr. Whipple was coming. Did you ever do this?

From AP and LA Times

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Speaking of Preservation- Here's a Great Program

One thing that always bothers me is seeing the impact of the Big-Box stores and commerce location outside of town. Viewing block after block of empty stores is definitely sad. The Big Boxers will never be the heart of a town. That is always the Downtown, the Main Street.

Canton, Illinois is now a part of the state of Illinois' Main Street Program. It is joined this year by Hoopeston and Woodstock. The 14th annual Main Street Conference was held in Danville.

This year, a record 26 Illinois communities applied for inclusion on the list.

TheMain Street program is administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and so far, 40 states participate in it.

In Illinois, the impact has been great. Since its inception, there has been a net of 1600 new businesses in participating communities. That translates into more than 6000 new jobs and a reinvestment of more than $575 million. These are impressive numbers to be sure.

Illinois' Main Street program is the nation's fourth largest.

Another Great Preservation Effort. --RoadDog

Congratulations Spring Grove Fish Hatchery

During October, my wife Liz and I did lots of voting online during American Express' Partners in Preservation contest in which a million dollars was to be given to 25 Chicago-area sites.

Evidently, a lot of other folks voted "early and often" (you could vote once a day) and our hatchery ended up as the number 10 vote-getter after starting at #19.

The result was a $65,000 grant to fix the place up and turn it into a public park.

The nearby Peterson Farm in McHenry ended up #22 and got $5000. Two other sites I supported, the Viking Ship in Geneva and the GAR Hall in Aurora finished in the top ten and got around $50,000 each. The number one vote-getter was the Lu Duong Merchant Building in Chicago's Chinatown. They got $110,000.

I thank American Express for its participation and generosity. It seems a large number of people do not care much about their heritage and it is always hard to raise money for this sort of thing.

Again, Thank You American Express. I Just Might Have to Get a Card Now. --RoadDog