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

Lincoln Log

The Lincoln Highway in Wyoming's Sweetwater County between its two biggest towns, Green River (Hey, CCR had a song about it?) and Rock Springs, might be in danger if WYDOT has its way.

I know this current gasoline situation, with BIG OIL gouging us to the max, has not made me any the wealthier. But, obviously, it has been good for some folks. The Casper, Wy, Star Tribune reports that the stretch of I-80 between these two cities has become the busiest in the state due to oil exploration and extraction.

WYDOT has three possible routes for an access road between the two towns, two of which involve the old part of the Lincoln. Let's hope, if it is enacted, that this will not lead to any destruction of it.

Oklahomans in World War II-- The Lucky Guy

Speaking of Oklahoma's 100th birthday of statehood, there is a site on the E-News Oklahoma Daily Herald about World War II veterans. It has their stories, pictures, as well as newspaper photos.

I looked at some of the stories and found this one to be of particular interest. There was even a picture of it in the Stars and Stripes.

This was told by an OKC attorney.

He said a friend's father was a cook in the Marine Corps at Guadalcanal. At one point, he was given a rifle and put on the line during one very desperate time.

He was badly wounded and underwent surgery at a field hospital where they put him into a full body cast. There was nowhere to put him while it dried, so he was put on a stretcher and placed on two 50 gallon drums.

"As he lay helpless, Japanese planes strafed the area, barely missing him. Not long after, a photo of him lying on a stretcher across two barrels was published in the Stars and Stripes, showing one of the barrels marked 'Drinking Water'--with bullet holes in it, and the other-- intact--marked 'Aviation Fuel.'"

Now, there's a good story.

Some Guys Have All the Luck. --RoadDog

Down Da 66--Will Clinton Go Clinton?, Bring Your Clubs

Some stuff of interest I've come across recently.

1. BRITAIN's Daily Telegraph editor Toby Harnden is driving part of Route 66 and gauging the political climate of America regarding the upcoming presidential election. He posted from Clinton, Oklahoma,on .

He said there are 33 towns named Clinton in the US, but it would not appear that Hillary Clinton is going to do well in her namesake Sooner town.

"Her reluctance to commit herself on even the most straight forward of issues and the relevation this weekend that her campaign has been planting softball questions at her public events underlines the feeling that she is a calculating and over-managed candidate."

Clinton resident Denise Pachard said, "It was bad enough having to listen to the jokes about Bill Clintona and his shenanigans."

Harnden wrote, "Oklahoma is solidly Republican and Clinton, where people recall the days when Elvis Presley would stay at the town's Trade Winds Inn en route from Memphis to Las Vegas, is no exception."

Imagine Clinton not going for Clinton.

2. GOLFING DOWN ROUTE 66-- Something you don't think about when the name Route 66 comes up is golfing. However, John Strege in the November Golf Digest website says that there are up to 80 courses located along the Rt 66 Corridor. You can even get to golf near the termini of both ends of 66: the International Golf Center in Chicago and the Rancho Park Golf Course in LA.

He interviewed Jim Conkle of the Route 66 Pulse and said he was an avid golpher and had been end-to-end on 66 a total of 49 times.

Perhaps someone will play golf at all 80 courses some time and write about it. It won't be me as I am definitely not a golfer. I'd just as well watch a car race, poker, or a tennis match as watch a golf game.

3. RON WARNICK'S ROUTE 66 NEWS BLOG-- had a great "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" video on You Tube by the Count Bishop's. Well, the music was great, but the video could cause some eye strain due to double exposure for the whole thing.

I liked this version just as well as I do what I consider the best effort by Asleep at the Wheel.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Friday, November 16, 2007

Happy 100th Birthday, Oklahoma

Oklahoma attained statehood on this date back in 1907 and has been having a celebration all year, but especially this weekend.

At some point this weekend, native sons Toby Keith and Garth Brooks will be performing. Plus, today was a state holiday.

I've been in Oklahoma on several occasions while driving along Route 66. I didn't expect much as far as scenery but it is a beautiful rolling land with lots of things to do.

And, a large chunk of Route 66 goes through it.  This is my third favorite Route 66 state, after Illinois and Missouri.

So, Happy Birthday, You Sooners. --RoadDog

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Eatin' Down Da 66

Looking at GQ's Top Twenty US Hamburgers list, I saw four joints located in Route 66 cities.

They are:

#18 Poag Mahone's hamburger-- Poag Mahone's Carving and Ale House-- Chicago

#15 Build Your Own Burger-- The Counter-- Santa Monica

#12 Bobcat Burger-- Bobcat Bite-- Santa Fe

#6 California Burger-- Houston's-- Santa Monica

Alas, I've never eaten at any of these places. Sure love my Ham-burgers though, so will have to check these places out.

Who'd have known Santa Monica was such a burger hotbed? Just some more places to check out on the Mother Road.

Driving Down that Two Lane Highway Eatin' a Burger in One Hand, the Other on the Greasy Steering Wheel. --RoadDog

Hollywood Beach, Florida

This is one of Florida's east coast's "undiscovered" gems. Most Americans head for the more glamorous Ft. Lauderdale and Miami Beach, can you say South Beach? However, my beach of choice in this part of the world is Hollywood Beach.

This is a place those of us who are not "beautiful" people, as in CSI-Miami, can go to unwind and enjoy ourselves and not spend a fortune. However, I should say the French Canadians have definitely found it. If you go during the winter, English is almost a second language. I may not know what they're saying, but I definitely know when someone is having a good time. These folks are definitely having a good time.

We prefer to stay at the Beach House Hotel, right on A1A. It is right across from the Intercoastal Waterway and only a block from the ocean. There is an open courtyard in the middle and a swimming pool on the roof, which is about six stories high. Prices are very reasonable. There are lots of mom and pop motels in the area.

What we REALLY like is that there are probably 25 bars within a quarter mile of the place. No worry about DUIs here. Park the car and walk the next several days.

Then there is that great asphalt boardwalk that runs several miles. The beach is on one side and a myriad of small shops, the inevitable tee shirt places, and restaurants on the west.

I see that GQ ranked Le Tub's burger as the best in the US. Le Tub is about two blocks away, right next to Capone's Flicker Light which is a Chicago sport fan's home away from home. They had a major party there during last year's Super Bowl.

We haven't been to Hollywood Beach since 2000, but went there quite often before that.

As Cold as it is Today, I've Got HB on My Mind. --RoadDog

Le Tub in Hollywood Beach, Florida

This is one of the most unique, eclectic places you'll ever go to for a meal and drinks. Located right on the Intercoastal Waterway you have the views and DO NOT EXPECT ANYTHING FANCY. Ya Ain't Gonna Get It.

Fine dining it isn't. Good times it is. The owner says it was originally a Sunoco gas station that opened Nov. 2, 1959 and was forced to close during the 70s energy crunch. He bought it in 1974 and "built it totally out of flotsam, jetsam, and ocean borne treasures gathered daily over 4 years of daybreak jogging on Hollywood Beach."

There are plants in every imaginable container, including bathtubs (hence the name) and toilets. Don't be fooled by the gulls and buoys bathrooms.

As far as food, I can't vouch, but we have spent many an evening imbibing there. You've got to see it to believe it.

I checked out a travel site and quite a few people were not happy with the place since it made the #1 burger list on GQ's top twenty. I hope this new-found celebrity hasn't gone to their head. They also claim to have become famous with their chili.

Hollywood Beach is located between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami Beach.

Getting Down at Le Tub. --RoadDog

Who Has the Best Burger?

Gentleman's Quarterly recently had one of its writers, Alan Richman, go off on a 23,750 mile, 150,000 calorie quest to find America's 20 best burgers. He ended up sampling 162 burgers and came up with a top twenty list.

The top ten were as follows:

1. Sirloin Burger-- Le Tub-- Hollywood Beach, Fl.
2. Luger Burger-- Puter Luger steakhouse-- Brooklyn, NY
3. Not Just a Burger-- Spiced Pier Restaurant-- Newport, RI
4. Rouge Burger-- Rouge-- Philadelphia
5. Kobe Sliders-- Barclay Prime-- Philadelphia
6. California Burger-- Houston's-- Santa Monica
7. Buckhorn Burger-- Buckhorn-- San Antonio, NM
8. Hamburger-- Miller's Bar-- Dearborn, Mi
9. Cheeseburger-- Burger Joint-- New York City
10. Number 5-- Keller's Drive In--Dallas

Alas, I have not had the burger at any of these places. I have been to Le Tub many times, but never had the burger.

This past October, I got to visit Philadelphia for the first time. Silly me, I was going after the Philly cheese steaks, and I had three of them. Looking at numbers 4 and 5, perhaps I also should have been checking out the burgers. I also had a Philly hot dog from a street vendor, and that iwas unique and DEE-licious as well.

I like burgers right up there with hot dogs when it comes to good road food.

Lovin' Dem Burgers. --RoadDog

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Historic Hotels Along Route 66

Usually, when you think of Route 66, you envision the unique one-story motels. However, the cities along the route also have their share of grand and magnificent hotels standing right downtown.

Unfortunately. many of these have met their demise, but now, some cities are realizing the jewels that they have and are restoring rather than demolishing.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America program is involved in helping these place survive into the 21st century.

I checked their website and listed the hotels in Route 66 cities.

Illinois- Chicago

Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel- 1927
Palmer House Hilton- 1875

Missouri- St. Louis

Chase Park Plaza Hotel- 1922
Hyatt Regency St. Louis at Union Station- 1894

Tulsa- Hotel Ambassador- 1929

Oklahoma City- Colcord Hotel
Skirvin Hilton- 1911- reopened Feb. 2007. We almost lost this one.

New Mexico- Santa Fe
La Fonda- 1922

California- Santa Monica
Georgia Hotel- 1933

Beautiful, But Too Expensive for Me. --RoadDog

Monday, November 12, 2007

Down Da 66-- Vernelle's Motel

In a blog by Kendal entry, I found out some information on Vernelle's Motel in Missouri, a short distance west of Rolla.

It was built in the late 1930s by E. P. Gasser and originally called Gasser Tourist Court. It consisted of six cabins, a gas station, and novelty shop.

In the early 50's, his nephew Fred bought it and expanded. Fred named it after his wife, Vernelle. They added a restaurant and even a petting zoo. In 1957 the restaurant was torn down and the motel moved a few feet north to accommodate the widening of Route 66 to four lanes.

The original sign and motel remain.

I had always thought the place was named after the family's name.

One of these days I am going to have to stay here before it is too late. Unfortunately, it is close enough to Lebanon, and we like to stay at the Munger-Moss and visit with Ramona and Bob Lehman. I figure its days are numbered. It probably will be joining the ruins of the lamented John's Modern Cabins which is close by.

A lot of Route 66 businesses died when the interstates cut them off. Vernelle's was greatly hurt when I-44 was built in front of it without an exit. Then a few years ago, I-44 was realigned behind the place, one again isolating them. This time, you can't even see them from the road.

I understand the place is currently for sale. How much more bad luck can a place have.

The Saga of Vernelle's Continues. --RoadDog

The Dumb and the Lucky

You've heard about the little kids walking out into the fresh cement. Well, here's a new take on that story. The October 25th Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that in Mequon, Wisconsin, that two drivers drove around the barriers on the I-43 overpass and got stuck in freshly-poured concrete.

As many as ten drove around it, but these two got stuck. Police have not yet decided whether to ticket or if they would have to pay for the $20,000 in damages.

I've seen the drunken-driver wrecks along roads to warn of its dangers. Perhaps we should now have a car up to its hubcaps in concrete. Cars in Concrete

What did Bill Murray say in Groundhog Day about driving on the railroad tracks?


Charles and Linda Everson got the surprise of their life while driving down a road in central Washington when a 600 pound cow plunged off a 200 foot cliff into the hood of their minivan.

The cow had been missing from its ranch for two days. All the Everson's could say was that they were glad it hadn't been a split second later.

I can just imagine the look on their insurance guy's face when they made their claim. "A WHAT crashed into your hood?"

Believe it or Not. --RoadDog

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Down Da 66-- Waymarkers Marking

The Waymarkers have been at it again. This time, they visited and marked Dot's Mini Museum in Vega, Texas. They took four pictures of the place.

I didn't know some of the information they gave, so will give it here.

Dot and Harold Levitt bought a Vega building and remodeled it into a store called Vega Zero Lockers and had freezer storage units. During the 40s and 50s most people didn't have freezers, so townspeople would rent these.

Plus, Route 66 travelers bought fresh fruit, vegetables, lunch meat and other items for travel from them. Business was good until the coming of I-40. Dot then turn the place into a very eclectic museum with all sorts of stuff.

Unfortunately. she died this past year, but daughter Betty Carpenter is keeping it going. She said her mom must have bought every single thing Avon ever made. Also, make sure to take a look at the boot tree.

Liz and I were fortunate enough to get to visit with Dot back in September 2006. She was quite a lady.

Just One More Thing to Like About Route 66. --RoadDog

High Desert Route 66 Motels in California

The October 20th Victorville, Ca., Daily Press had an article titled "Mother Road Warriors: San Bernardino County's Route 66 motels offer a glimpse at the past" by Lara Hartley.

I especially found he "fond" memories of traveling with the family to be of interest. She said her family had a routine. Dad would drive until real late each night and then go into the motel office, talk with the clerk, and come out with a key to inspect the room. They would always go ahead and get out as they were always acceptable.

Her dad liked two rooms with a connecting door-- one for the four kids, and "one where he could escape those four kids after hours and miles on the road, who could blame him."

Her mom liked kitchenettes to prepare meals. Restaurants were not a problem as there was always a big supply of bologna sandwiches on white bread.

She talked about three old Route 66 motels on the High Desert Plains in that part of California.

WIGWAM in Rialto which has been completely remodeled and a real trip back to the 40s and 50s.

ROUTE 66 MOTEL in Barstow which has also been completely remodeled and the vintage cars outside give it the old feel. Owners Red and Mridu Shandil, however, are ready to retire after almost 25 years of ownership. Anyone want to buy a Route 66 motel?

DOWNTOWN MOTEL in Barstow also. A 1954 motel also serously remodeled by Pam and Don Patel who have owned for 15 years now.


Lara's account of her family on the road reminded me of my own. I remember Dad always looking for the absolute cheapest place to stay (I guess this is where I get it from), even if that meant going to several or more places. We, of course, were really hoping for a place with a pool. Sometimes we got a pool, other times not.

The air was always charge with anticipation when he went in. Would this be the one or not? And we dared not complain or be too loud about it. This was back when Dad's had no problem with physical discipline.

"And the Smell in the Back Seat was..." from the movie "Vacation." --RoadDog

Glad to See This

Historic Hotels of America has joined the Preferred Hotel Group to further the preservation and business of America's magnificent old hotels.

Historic Hotels of America is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and was formed in 1989. I had never heard of them before. Currently it has over 200 hotels that have been identified as "faithfully maintaining their historical integrity, architecture and and ambiance."

To qualify, a hotel has to be at least 50 years old, listed or eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places, and be recognized as having historic significance.

Some examples of the hotels are Pfister Hotel (1893), Hotel Metro (1937), and Ambassador (1920) all in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Also, there is the Waldorf in New York City and Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

The Preferred Hotel Group includes the Brown Palace in Denver, Peabody Hotel in Memphis. and Greenbrier Hotel at White Sulphur Springs, WV, among their 400 hotels world-wide.

For more information on the Historic Hotels of America and a complete listing, go to . You can also get "special" room rates. After looking at these, all I can say is that I can't afford even the "special" rates. Well, I could, but am too cheap.

Any Preservation is Good Preservation, Even if It's TOO Expensive for Me. --RoadDog

Happy 81st Birthday to Route 66 and US Highway System

It was on this date, Veterans Day 1926 that the US Highway System still in use today, was established. That would include US Route 66, which was almost US-60. Get Your Kicks on Route 60 just doesn't have the kick of 66.

It was necessary for this new system because the old way of naming roads, such as the Lincoln and Dixie highways, just wasn't keeping up with the numbers of vehicles that increasingly used them.

Of course, the US Interstate System has since replaced the US Highways as the primary mode of transportation and I'm thankful for that. I couldn't even imagine how bad things would be if we were still using the US highways.

Big Happy Birthday to Route 66. --RoadDog

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy 232nd Birthday USMC!!!

On this date back in 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the formation of the United States Marine Corps.

Today, I went to the Lakes American Legion Post 703 in Fox Lake, Illinois, where a group was putting on a birthday breakfast and fundraiser for the annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive.

They served some really heavy-duty coffee, scrambled eggs, and the old Marine standby, SOS, or ____ on a shingle, a sausage gravy on toast.

Marine veterans from World War II and the Korean War were seated at the table of honor and were served first, as it should be.

There was a LOT of United States and Marine HISTORY in this room. After breakfast, everyone had the chance to say a few words about their connection with the Corps.

I didn't get the names, but did get some of the stories which I will relate here.

At Pearl Harbor and past national president of the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association.

Member of Carlson's Raiders during WWII.

At Sugar Loaf (I'm not sure what war that was). Said to new marines about Rules of Engagement. "Ours were, if it moves, shoot it.'"

Born in Germany. At Guadalcanal and Okinawa.

One lady Marine said she also married a Marine for 60 years. They were both in WWII, but she had a family and couldn't serve in Korea like her husband.

Served 1942-1945, but was fortunate enough never to be in combat.

In Korean War and at Chosin reservoir.

Vietnam Vet, but just got first Marine Corps tattoo three weeks ago.

Will be graduating high school in 2008 and has already signed up for the Corps. Will be leaving for training in August. He got a BIG round of applause.

Mother has two sons in the Corps. One joined in 2004 and the younger one in 2005. Both in Iraq. She got a big round of applause.

Joined the Corps in 1945 and all he has to say is "Thank you Harry" to President Truman who authorized the atomic bomb to be used against Japan. Said he and thousands of others were at Camp Pendleton in California preparing for the invasion of Japan.

There were also two active duty Marines present.


I-355 Opens Tomorrow as $1 Billion Bikeway

November 11 must be a good day to dedicate highways. After all, that was the day back in 1926, that Route 66 and most of the US highways in the country were dedicated. Tomorrow, it will be Veterans Memorial Tollway's time. That would be I-355.

However, tomorrow, there will be no vehicles on the road. It is estimated that around 9000 people will be walking, jogging, and bicycling on it. The Chicago Tribune had a reporter bike along it and he noted that in some towns, people's houses are practically on top of the tollway, something that they should have known as this road has been under discussion since the late 1960s. He also filmed his ride.

Welcome to Illinois. Pay Toll One Mile. --RoadDog

NIU Alum Dissertation on "Hawaii's Scenic Roads"

Dawn Duensing, who received her History M.A. at Northern Illinois, my alma mater, in 1986, is pursuing her Ph.D. in Australia with a scholarship at the Australian National University. Her dissertation topic will be "Hawaii's Scenic Roads: Paving the Way for Tourism in the Islands."

She was a historian in Hawaii from 1990 and relocated to Australia in 2005.

Sounds like an interesting work, perhaps it will be published.

Keep on Down That Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

The Lincoln Log: John Stewart's $50,000 Markers

Brian Butko, in his Nov. 9th Lincoln Highway News blog had an interesting entry about an article in a December 1913 New York Times that he had found.

It stated that John Stewart of Elburn, Illinois, had given $50,000 to improve the Lincoln Highway around Elburn and that markers with his name were to be placed at each end of the section his money was used on. That $50,000 back in 1913 would be quite a bit in today's dollars.

The headline read:

Makes $50,000 Road Gift
Stewart Wants Strip of Lincoln
Highway to be His Memorial

Butko contacted people in Elburn, and no one ever heard of the markers, but they knew of him. There is a local elementary school named after him and his mansion still stands on his estate, now home of the Great Lakes Leadership Campus on Il-47. His home is a 15-room Victorian mansion built in 1897. I'll have to look for it the next time through Elburn, and I go through there often as I take Il-47 from Woodstock, Il, to Dwight on Route 66.

John Stewart served three terms in the Illinois legislature and he funded the main street of Elburn, which at one time also served as Lincoln Highway. Perhaps this is where the $50,000 was used.

Brian Butko contacted the Lincoln Highway Association archives at the University of Michigan but they were unable to find any mention of Stewart.

Another Great Lincoln Highway Story or Is It a Mystery? --RoadDog

Down Da 66--Spooks On 66? PROUD Pontiac

News from the old road, Route 66.

1. PONTIAC, ILLINOIS--Came across a very interesting story in the Pantograph about a decapitated body that was found on Route 66 and Illinois Highway 116 this past week. Police did not expect foul play even though the head was found in a different place than the body.

Bystanders, at 4:30 AM, (4:30 AM?), reported a truck driving erratically with a chain driving from the back. A headless body was found in the truck, which ended up in a ditch. The head was found in a nearby parking lot. Hhhmmmm, and no foul play? And what were people doing out at 4:30 in the morning?

Looks Like We Have a Great Ghost Story in the Making Here. --RoadDog

I found out today, that police think it was a suicide.

2. PONTIAC, ILLINOIS-- The November 9th Pantagraph reports that Taylor Johnson, an officer with PROUD, Pontiac Redeveloping Our United Downtown (pretty good acronym if you ask me) told a meeting of the group that they are finding a way to live in this new world of big-box retailers, a time when many small places are finding their downtowns dying out.

He pointed out that downtown Pontiac is flourishing with new businesses and attractions opening such as the Livingston County War Museum, the new Route 66 mural, and, of course, the Route 66 hall of Fame Museum which is attracting a thousand visitors a month from all over the US and world.

With that great square and drop-dead courthouse, downtown SHOULD be doing well. Of course, now, they might just as well have their own version of Oklahoma's Ghost Lights. You reckon the body will go looking for its head?

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What About Urge Overkill's 76 Ball Connection?

Went to the group's website, and found that their logo is based on our 76 ball. It also has an orange ball with the letters UO in black and outlined in white.

The group formed at Northwestern University in 1986 and is based out of Chicago. They had a lot of publicity with their cover of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon" which was featured in the 1994 movie "Pulp Fiction."

Some of the lyrics of their "76 Ball" song from 1990's "Americruiser" (good car name) album:

On a night like this I found Miss Celine
On a freeway to bliss it's a guarantee
Take a ride like this.
I've got you what you need.

There's a chill in the spine now.
76 ball.
It's all turning round
I hope I'm coming down

Now, You Know the Connection. --RoadDog

Savin' That 76 Ball

Another American roadside gem, that great big ol' orange Union 76 ball is on its way out, or is it?

When ConocoPhillips bought Union Oil in 2003, one of the first things they started doing was getting rid of the orange orbs that spelled relief with their bathrooms and fuel for the tanks for many a weary road traveler since the 1960s. All looked gloomy until 2006 when an intrepid pair began an online effort to save the balls. Their names, Kim Koga, executive Director of the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles and Nathan Marsak.

A History of the orange ball:

1932-- the Union 76 retail brand is born at gas stations in the western US.

1940s--the distinctive orange circle with blue 76 outlined in white appears.

1962-- Ray Pedersen designs the 76 ball for the Seattle World's Fair. It is an immediate hit and goes up at all s Union 76 stations, even one at Dodger Stadium in LA

1967-- 76 antenna balls are an immediate hit. Two million given out.

1990-- Chicago-based band Urge Overkill uses it as logo. Their 1990 album "Americruiser" contains a song called "76 Ball."

1997-- In Jurassic Park, a T-rex topples a ball, nearly destroying a sports car.

2003-- ConocoPhillips begins removing and destroying the balls.

2006-- Kim Koga and Nathan Marsak launch online campaign to save the balls.

2007-- ConocoPhillips says it will stop destroying the balls. Museum homes to be sought for the survivors.

There are 20 76 items currently on e-Bay.

You can more info at

The blog had an great picture of a Union 76 station in Beverly Hills with really unique architecture designed by William Pereira. It still had the ball up high and proud.

From September Reader's Digest "Saving a Sign of the Times" by Brittany Bouffard.

I just happened to come across the article while waiting and anticipating at the dentist's office.

Follow That Bouncing Ball. RoadDog

Veterans Memorial Tollway Trivia

Some interesting stuff about this new I-355 extension.

* More than 50,000 vehicles are expected to use the extension on opening day.

* The Des Plaines River Valley Bridge is 1.3 miles long and 125 feet wide, making it the longest bridge in the state's tollroad system and the second longest bridge in Illinois.

* The amount of concrete used to build the extension is 410,000 cubic yards-- enough to build 1,000 miles of sidewalk.

* About 2270,000 tons of steel were used-- enough to make about 9,600 sports-utility vehicles.

* Workers moved 10.2 million cubic yards of dirt, which would fill US Cellular Field (Comiskey Park) and Wrigley Field seven times over.

* It took 90,000 gallons of paint to put down the stripes.

* More than 3,000 workers helped build the extension.

* Cost of the project was $730,000,000.

* Total length is 12.5 miles.

* I wonder what the toll will be? I'm thinking $2, or $4 if you don't have I-Pass!!! Perhaps half of that.

From Chicago Tribune Source: Illinois State Highway Authority

That's a whole Lot of Lot. --RoadDog

If You Build It, They Will Come

Will County, one of the least crowded of Chicagoland's collar counties, can expect a huge population boom with the extension of I-355. It's rural character will fast become a thing of the past.

Massive retail and home developments are already under construction or planned along the route. Traffic on the roads with interchanges will be doubling almost immediately, and of course, then we get urban congestion.

This is probably great for the developers and rich folks, but I hate to see the "out-in-the-country" feel depart.

Populations of towns, which have already been going up, along the extension is expected to really increase. Some examples, the first number is population in 2000, second 2006 estimate, and third is the 2030 projection:

Woodridge: 30,934- 34,386, -42,889
Bolingbrook: 56,321- 69,881- 84,753
Homer Glen: 22,000- 25,000- 47,534
Lockport: 15,191- 23,840- 36,224
New Lenox: 17,771- 24,039- 90,652!!!
Joliet: 105,597- 142,702- 200,000!!!!

The growth of New Lenox (which is at the southern end of I-355 where it runs into I-80) will be staggering. Will County officials said it could become the "Schaumburg" of the southwest suburbs as two huge malls have already been proposed. The city is considering enacting a 1 % sales tax on the malls and surrounding retail operations in an attempt to upgrade roads, something that will be definitely needed.

Joliet is in line to becoming the largest Illinois city outside of Chicago.

From November 4th Chicago Tribune "Boom Goes Will County" by Hal Dardick

What Did Kevin Costner Say, or, Was It the Voice in His Head? --RoadDog

I-355 to Grayslake, Illinois?

Now that the southern extension of I-355 has been completed from I-55 and I-80, will it be extended north to Grayslake, or perhaps the Illinois-Wisconsin line?

For years, the proposed Illinois Highway 53 extension from Buffalo Grove to Grayslake has been a bone of contention between planners and folks in Barrington who don't want it in their backyard.

With Chicago's steady sprawl out into the suburbs, the need for transportation without the worsening traffic jams is becoming a major issue. I personally can vouch for the hassle that driving in Lake and McHenry counties has become. Every year, it is worse and worse. Even the way I currently use to avoid Chicago, Il-47, will soon be too crowded, so I'll have to go farther out.

Talk has it that if 53 is extended, it will become a tollway, part of I-355 and Chicago will have a new, further-out, interstate going around Chicago to take some of the pressure of the Tri-State Tollway.

Right now, I-355 goes from I-290, the Eisenhower Expressway, to I-55. Il. Highway 53 is already multi lane from I-355 to Dundee Road in Buffalo Grove. Around Woodfield Mall, it is about ten lanes, so this stretch won't be a problem.

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Veterans Memorial Tollway to Open Nov. 11th

The much-delayed I-355 southern extension, connecting I-55 and I-80 in Chicagoland will have its grand opening this Sunday, November 11th and will be called Veterans Memorial Tollway. Definitely a good day to open the Veterans Memorial Tollway.

Only, I wish it didn't have the word tollway on it. Chicagoland tollways were always on the expensive side, but, now, with the I-Pass, the rates have been doubled if you don't have one. I don't drive them enough, fortunately, so purchasing a transponder and the credits would not be a choice.

Plus, I like to drive the two lane roads whenever possible. As a matter of fact, I drive Illinois Highway 47 from Woodstock to Dwight, Illinois to avoid the Chicago "hassle" as I call it.

Another Superslab, But, at Least it Has a Worthy Name. --RoadDog

Dead Page: Thomas Dawes-- With Band Cyrkle and "Plop. Plop, Fizz Fizz"

THOMAS DAWES 1943-2007

Rock Musician (Cyrkle) Who Made Ads Sing

"Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, oh what a _____ __ __"

Thomas Dawes, a rock musician and composer who wrote some of the greatest ad jingles for 7 Up and Alka Seltzer, died October 13th in Manhattan at age 64 of a stroke.

He was born July 25, 1943 in Albany, NY.

While studying at Lafayette College, he founded a group along with guitarist Dan Dannemann, called the Rhondells who could best be classified as a "frat" band and by 1963 were touring the clubs up and down the eastern seaboard. During a temporary band breakup, Dawes toured with Simon and Garfunkel. Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley wrote him the song that became the Cyrkle's first hit, "Red Rubber Ball."

They were discovered by lawyer Nat Weiss, who was a partner of Brian Epstein of the Beatles. According to Ginny, John Lennon suggested the Cyrkle's name and unique spelling.

They opened for the Beatles in 1966 and itwas quite a change going from playing for 200 people to 70,000. The group had the first opportunity to record Paul Simon's "59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)" but turned it down. It became a top twenty hit for Harper's Bizarre in 1967. The group's last big hit was "Turn Down Day" which went to #16 in August of 1966.

When Dawes left the Cyrkle, he turned to jingle writing and wrote 30-40 in the 70s and 80s. He wrote the "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz" song for Alka-Seltzer, "Our L'eggs Fit Your Legs" for L'eggs, and "We're American Airlines, Doing What We Do Best" for American Airlines.

His wife, Ginny Reddington Dawes, was also in the ad business. They later wrote the "Coke Is It" campaign for Coca-Cola.

Also, in the mid-70s, Dawes worked with Foghat and produced two of their albums.

Now this is one interesting life. I have the Cyrkle's two top twenty 45s and am a fan of their music. I used to have a favorite mon and pop record store in Crystal Lake, Illinois, called Full Cyrkle, but unfortunately they closed it.

In case you're wondering about the blanks at the top of the story, but I know you older folks will know it, "Relief It Is."

New York Times News Service

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dead Page: Paul Tibbets, Jr., the Man Who Dropped the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima

PAUL TIBBETS, JR 1915-2007

Enola Gay Pilot Had No Regrets

Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr., the Army Air Force pilot who dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima died this past Thursday at his home in Columbus, Ohio, at age 92.

He never apologized for it. More than two-thirds of the buildings were destroyed and at least 80,000 people died. To him and his supporters, this was necessary to bring about the end of the war and to save thousands of American lives that would have been lost had the anticipated invasion of the Japanese Homeland taken place. And that is not to mention, the numbers of Japanese who would have died in the assault. I fall in his supporters group.

The Enola Gay was named for his mother and was a propeller-driven, four engine B-29 bomber that dropped the bomb on that fateful day, August 6, 1945.

Described by his commandant, General H.H. Arnold as "the best damned pilot in the Air Force", Tibbets was hand-picked to command the 509th Composite Group which was formed to wage nuclear war.

He was born in Quincy, Illinois, on February 23, 1915, and he fell in love with flying at age 12. "From that day on, I knew I had to fly," he remembered.

He was flying bombing missions over German-held targets in Europe nine months after Pearl Harbor.

In June, 1945, President Truman authorized an invasion of Japan, something that General MacArthur said could take ten years and cost 1 million American lives. Less than a month later, the first atom bomb was tested in New Mexico.

Several hours before dawn on August 6, the Enola Gay and the 9,700 pound bomb, "Little Boy." took off from the island of Tinian for the 1,700 mile flight north to Hiroshima. Two other B-29s accompanied him.

Several seconds after 8:15 a.m., from an altitude of 26,000 feet, the bomb was released. At 8:16, the bomb detonated with a core temperature estimated to be 30 million degrees.

Regardless of what those might accuse him of, this event, in my opinion, caused the quick end of the war. Had the Japanese fought to the last person as they intended to do, millions of lives were saved.

From Chicago Tribune obituary by Eric Malnic.

While teaching, I always tried to make the kids aware that some of the people in those history books are still alive. And, by that, they are connected to that history. Here is an example.

A True Hero. --RoadDog

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Some More on Reddy Kilowatt

I did some more research on good 'ol Reddy.

This from Wikipedia.

He was created at the Alabama Power Company by Ashton B. Collins, Sr. and debuted March 11, 1926, and was licensed to around 300 electric companies. In 1947, he had his own comic book created by the Walter Lantz Studio, the same good folks who brought us Woody Woodpecker.

In 1998, he was bought by the Northern States Power Company who created the Reddy Kilowatt Corporation to manage the cartoon.

He was featured on an episode of Roseanne and had a brief clip on the Star Wars spoof "Hardware Wars." Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead uses him for a mascot.

Over the years, Reddy has become closely associated with the use of power (probably a big hero of Tim the Toolman, let's  make his sounds right now), but has never caught on with the conservation folk.

I checked out e-Bay today and found 97 items of Reddy-related stuff including ash trays, playing cards, wrist watches, earrings, belt buckles, metal tokens, cookie cutters, lapel pins, Zippo lighters, and patches.

Sure Didn't Know All this Stuff. --RoadDog

Reddy's Back in Sioux City, Iowa

The October 20th Sioux City Journal reports that Reddy Kilowatt, the cartoon-like metal and neon sign that long greeted visitors to town was lit up for the first time in over a decade. and is near its original site.

The Historic Fourth Street District spent $6,000 on the makeover.

In case you don't know who he is (I didn't at first, but after the description, remembered), here is a description. It is a red neon stick figure, bulbous head, light bulb nose, sockets for ears and lightning bolts for body and limbs.

The one in Sioux City was part of a larger neon sign owned by the Iowa Public Service Co. and was erected in 1959 atop its downtown building. The sign was removed in 1996 for repairs, but never re erected.

Reddy Kilowatt made his debut in 1926. During the 1950s and 1960s it was used as corporate spokesman for more than 200 utilities. In 1947, it was featured in a comic book and a Hollywood movie.

The 1970s energy crisis helped cause his demise from the public eye. Today, he is rarely seen, but his likeness draws top-dollar at on-line auctions.

He even has his own website:

"Reddy's back in town" by Dave Dreeszen

There were four comments, all favorable. C'Mon, how could you not like the guy, or is it a gal?

This Was SHOCKING News to Me. --RoadDog

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Folks Pushing US-80

Glad to see that the East Texas Tourism Association is aware of the great road they have going through their part of the country.

Last month, they had what they billed as the "world's largest yard sale" stretching from Mesquite to Monroe, Louisiana. They are trying "to draw attention to the historic route and its roadside architecture like the classic old mom and pop motels and service stations reminiscent of days gone by."

In several places, Old US-80 parallels the present US-80 including stretches around Big Sandy, Gladewater, White Oak, and Longview. Plus, many main streets in towns were also part of the original US-80.

They have a website with more information which features a 250 mile travel guide.

Always Good to See Folks Pushing the Old Roads. --RoadDog

New Beer in Town, Route 66 Premium Beer

First we had that great Wilmington, Illinois, Root 66 Beer, now, we have something with a bit more of a kick. I speak of that new Route 66 Premium Beer. I haven't seen it yet, but understand it's in the UK.

Earlier this month, the UK's Barkeeper site mentioned that Protege International's Route 66 Premium Beeer was now available in 60 Tesco stores. Tesco stores are a lot like our Wal-Mart stores.

They have a website: which features a picture of Cadillac Ranch's cars, but with one of them a bottle of beer.

Some other things from the site:

"Route 66--a long, Rejuvenating, Lean, Cool drink."
"The unforgettable Route 66 is the embodiment of the American Dream."

The label has a desert scene with old car and the words Route 66 on it.

This Has Certainly Whetted My Taste. Hey, Pass Me One of Those 66es. --RoadDog