Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dead Page- Part 6

R. Michael Kammerer, Jr. 1940-2997

Founder of ITN Networks and in Retirement involved in search for Amelia Earhart's Plane

R. Michael Kammerer died May 12, 2007. He was the founder of ITN Networks in 1983 from the basement of his family home. It is one of the largest suppliers of non-network primetime advertising in the US.

In 1991, he turned company operation over to a management team and moved to New Mexico where he bought a ranch and took up roping.

In 2001, he got involved with the search for Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10E which is thought to rest on the Pacific Ocean floor somewhere near Howland Island where she had just refueled. Like the Lindbergh trans-Atlantic flight of 1927, her attempt to become the first to fly around the world in 1937 captured the public attention. Her disappearance has evoked much debate in the years since it happened.

Kammerer paid $1 million for a 1935 Electra 10E, the only flying sister ship of her plane. He also paid $300,000 for a 1943 PBY Catalina, similar to the those used in the initial search.

Here was a self-made man, who was able to pursue his interest in abig way.

Goodbye American Heritage Magazine

I saw recently that this June will be the last publication of one of America's great magazines, American Heritage. It began chronicling our history back in 1954 and at first was in a hardbound edition and later in a paper cover.

I was a subscriber on two different occasions and really enjoyed the really great and inciteful articles on any and all things to do with our history.

The magazine's first editor was none other than the famous Civil War writer Bruce Catton whose great works are still read and considered classics by fans of the conflict. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1953 book "Stillness at Appomattox."

Sorry to see such a great effort go by the way. --RoadDog

Back Page- Lucky Lindy

The Chicago Tribune has a picture and interesting facts about a subject every Sunday in the Tribune Magazine.

The May 20th one had a picture taken at Chicago's Municipal Airport, now Midway, in 1927. It shows the Spirit of St. Louis, piloted by one Charles Lindbergh, after it landed.

After his famous trans-Atlantic flight, he was an international hero and every city wanted him to visit. This was his visit to Chi-Town which had a legitimate claim to him as he flew the Chicago-St. Louis air mail route for a year and a half before flying across the Atlantic.

"Flaming Coffins"- what the air mail planes were called and aptly so.

"Lucky Lindy"- the name he got from his two emergency parachute jumps.

77%- the percentage of the first 40 air-mail pilots killed in crashes.

5- the number of sandwiches he carried on his 33 and a half hour trans-Atlantic flight

Jitterbug- the new name of the Lindy Hop because of his pre-WWII isolationist stand.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bob Stroud's "Used Car Lot" Show 5-27-07

One of my favorite radio stations to listen to is WDRV, the Drive, 97.1 FM out of Chicago. It plays classic rock music. They also have one of my favorite deejays, Bob Stroud, who essentially became a deejay for the same reason I did. He'd go to parties and always ended up playing the music so decided, "Why not get paid for it as well?"

He has been in his own band, Bob Stroud's Rockorchestra, and he also is now the lead singer of one of my favorite Chicago bands from the 60s, The Cryan' Shames.

He does a show in the midafternoon with his much anticipated Ten at Ten where he plays ten songs from one year at 10 AM and at 1:45 plays one 45 from his massive collection. Even better, every Sunday from 7AM to 10 AM, he hosts a very popular Rock and Roll Roots Show. The depth of his knowledge is astounding. Every week, he has a theme. It might be a particular band or performer who is having a birthday that week, or he might spotlight this day on two years, usually about five years apart. Sometimes it is just a theme like Living in the USA, Summer Songs, or Car Songs.

This past Sunday, he did one called "Used Car Lot." Of course, this was right up my alley.

These are the songs he played:

1. Hot Rod Lincoln- Commander Cody- "Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin' "
2. Maybelline- Chuck Berry- "As I was a motivatin' over the hill"
3. Little Old Lady from Pasadena- Jan & Dean- "Don't try to pass her."
4. Low Rider- War- one of my all-time favs- If you can't groove to this, ya can't groove
5. Back Seat of My Car- Paul McCartney- Hhhmmmnnnn! Sir Paul's gettin' a little randy.
6. Uneasy Rider- Charlie Daniels- go ahead and kick ol' Green Teeth
7. Ol' 55- Eagles
8. Gasoline Alley- Rod Stewart
9. Custom Machine- Beach Boys
10. Expressway to Your Heart- Soul Survivors- a great intro
11. Mustang Sally- Wilson Pickett- the greatest effort of the Wicked Pickett
12. Cadillac- New Colony 6- great 60s Chicago band- "C-a-d-i-l-l-a-c"-How fast can you say it
13. Drive My Car- Beatles- "Baby, you can drive my car."
14. Indiana Wants Me- R. Dean Taylor- Indiana Wants Me, Lord I can't go back there."
15. Lake Shore Drive- Alliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah "You can go from rags to riches" Chicago's waterfront
16. Crosstown Traffic- Jimi Hendrix- great guitar riff
17. Baby Driver- Simon & Garfunkel
18. Drag City- Jan & Dean- "...gonna have some fun."
19. Mercedes Benz- Goosecreek Symphony- Southern take on Janis Joplin classic
20. Radar Love- Golden Earring- one of the great road songs
21. Fun, Fun, Fun- Beach Boys- Where's she gonna go when she gets the keys to Daddy's car?
22. Get Your Kicks on Route 66- Rolling Stones- It's a good thing he played this one!!
23. Let It Roll- Bachman Turner Overdrive- "Ride, ride, ride, let it ride."
24. Let Me be Your Car- Rod Stewart
25. No Particular Place to Go- Chuck Berry- "Ridin' around in my automobile..."
26. In the Driver's Seat- Sniff 'N Tears- Great sound on this one
27. Cruisin'- Jefferson Starship
28. Vehicle- Ides of March- another great Chicago band, this one featuring horns
29. Mercury Blues- Steve Miller Band
30. Little GTO- Ronny & the Daytonas- What can I say, the great old goats, the first muscle car
31. Little Cobra- Rip Chords
32. Chevy Van- Robert Johns- What goes on in the back of one of those, anyway?
33. See the USA in Your Chevrolet- Probably one of the greatest road song commercials ever written
34. Rockin' Down the Highway- Doobie Brothers- a vocal classic
35. Shut Down- Beach Boys- Now how are you gonna have a group of car songs and not this one?
36. Sweet Hitchhiker- CCR- my all-time favorite band. I had all of their albums.
37. Take the Highway- Marshall Tucker- great song, but too long
38. Traffic Jam- James Taylor- Boy, can I relate to this one.
39. Going Mobile- Who- This is a good one to close out the show.

By the way, these would be an excellent group to record for a cruise down that old road. Stay off the Super Slabs!!!! Or, as we say on Route 66 here in Illinois, "Friends don't let friends drive I-55" Sorry about that Sammy Hagar.

The Drive does stream live, so check out his show sometime.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. RoadDog

Memorial Day and Pearl Harbor Survivors

It is sad to see time doing to our valiant vets of World War II what the Germans and Japanese couldn't do. At least a thousand die every day across the US. The holds true with those who were at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that fateful December 7, 1941.

Several were on on hand this past Monday. Sterling Cale used an axe to break into an arms room to get weapons to fight the Japanese. George Brown was on the USS Oklahoma and had to swim through the burning water to get to safety. Ray Emory manned a gun on the USS Honolulu and braved the bullets.

Every year, more than a million people go out to the USS Arizona Memorial. I was fortunate enough to get to go out to it back on a family trip in 2002. It is a feeling akin to the Vietnam Wall, to know the several hundred men entombed beneath your feet, to see the circular turret mounts, and what got me the most, the drops of oil that still come up from the vessel. This represents a real connection with that day. Then, to look several hundred yards away and see the huge USS Missouri. These two vessels represent where the war began and ended for the US.

Every year, on or as near to it as I could get (if it was on a weekend), we spent the day with my seventh graders remembering Pearl Harbor and listening to the "Day of Infamy" speech. "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a day that shall live in infamy..."

Ray Emory, a native of Peopria, Illinois who has since retired to Hawaii, has spent the last 15 years of his life on the quest to identify the remains of hundreds of Pearl Harbor victims who were buried as "unknown" in the chaotic days after the attack.

On the 50th anniversary of the event, Emory went to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific near Honolulu to put flags on the graves. He was horrified to find the large number of graves only marked "Unknown. Dec. 7, 1941.

He began collecting records from every ship at the battle and tracking down where their dead were buried. Because of his efforts, many of these gravestones have been updated as to which ship or base they were serving when they died.

Even more, he has succeeded in getting four bodies exhumed and identified and there might shortly be a fifth. "They deserve a name on their grave."

Ray Emory deserves a great thanks for his efforts as do all past and present members of our armed forces.

I used the Chicago Tribune article of May 29, 2007 to get some of this information. "Devoted to Their Memory" by Kirsten Scharnberg.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Yesterday, we went to Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, for the annual Memorial Day parade. We always wait for it at the Main Street Inn, home to some of the best-you-ever-had Bloody Marys for $3. They'd cost about $9 in Lake Geneva. Ray, the bartender is probably one of the best in the business and mixes them all from scratch, something that takes at least twelve steps including mixing. We must have seen him make at least 75 of them in the forty minutes we were there.

We meet and talk with a whole bunch of friends every year. Talked with Rich who owns Shadow Ranch where the huge Country Thunder Festival is held every summer. He also owns a huge hosta nursery in town. Also talked with the Coz Man, Cruz, and Linn.

Of course, my favorite part of any parade are the marching bands. We had four of them. Three were elementary schools (one had two groups), and the excellent Wilmot High School marching band who had just performed the day before at the Indy 500 and made it back for the parade.

One politician was tooling up and down in one of those weird-looking Segways. He was hilarious, and one time was in reverse and "conducting" one of the marching bands. Too bad he's in Wisconsin. I'd probably vote for him.

Of course, there were lots of cheers as the American Legion color guard marched by.

The Route 66 News Blog ran a lengthy list of all the service people who had been killed in Iraq who lived in Route 66 towns. It was very sad to see and very long.

Mighty Proud of Our Valiant People in the Service. --RoadDog

No Cicadas Here...Yet

The newspapers, radio, and TV stations around Chicago are full of reports about this invasion that is taking place. Millions of 17 year cicadas are making their appearance and soon the air will be split with their mating calls. This is expected to last the full month of June.

On Monday, one man estimated about 100,000 of the critters around one single tree in a forest preserve out south of here. Most reports from scientists thus far say this is the biggest brood in memory. Their mating sound is at 96 decibels, about as loud as a jet flying close overhead.

Old growth trees will be the most overrun. Chicago's sprawl has ranged far and wide since this brood began in 1990 and the new subdivisions probably will have very few. Our subdivision in Spring Grove, Illinois, was mostly farm fields in 1990, with the first houses, including ours, built in 1992. We probably won't have much of a visit.

Some adventurous souls are actually eating them in a variety of ways. They are supposed to taste like nuts and the internet is hopping with recipes from appetizers, to pizza toppings, to desserts.

Parkside Pub in nearby Huntley, Illinois, is the home to the annual Turkey Testicle Festival every Wedneday before Thanksgiving, an event that draws huge crowds, and where last year 1,200 pounds of the "delicacy" were devoured. Owner Mark McDonald figures his customers will eat about anything so he'll hit hit them with some cicada dishes. He's thinking chocolate-covered and deep-fried.

The Chicago Tribune ran a recipe for a cicada pizza. Check it Out.

Reckon I'll have to get over to the Parkside and give it a try. Anyone want to come with me?

Munching, munching On Those Tasty Little Delicacies. Hey pass me some more cicadas. --RoadDog

Dadburn Big Oil !!!! Scratch One Road Trip

Well...it finally happened. Today, I cancelled our trip out to Fort Morgan, Colorado, for the 15th annual Lincoln Highway Conference. I already had paid my money to attend and had reservations at a motel...all to naught. It ain't gonna happen. I was really up for it.

And the reason is... Big Oil's greed!!!!! We could afford to take the trip, but I have no desire to make them any richer. Last fall, we almost cancelled our Route 66 end-to-end trip until the price of gas came down. Perhaps we'll have to start having things like this in the fall when the prices come down after "the summer driving season."

Of course, prices went up this year in "anticipation" of the summer driving season and the incredible "ineptitude" of BP. You can only have so many "mishaps" and "scheduled maintenances" that lead to the price of gas soaring before someone says hhhmmmnnn. Methinks something is amiss here.

Just wait until they have to post their earnings. Should be another record.

Not buying it. --RoadDog

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ten Great Places to Get Ice Cream

Mark DeCarlo, host of the Travel Channel's Taste of America, told USA Today of his ten favorite places to get that frozen concoction. Just a minute now while I go to the freezer....

I've only visited one of them, Ted Drewes in St. Louis. It is a MUST stop for anyone taking the Route 66 drive. You have to try their signature dish, the concrete, so thick they turn it upside down when it is served and nothing comes out. www.teddrewes.com Great website.

Pinkberry- Los Angeles
Angelo Brocato's- New Orleans
Graeter's- Cincinnati
Leon's Frozen Custard- Milwaukee
Ghirardelli- San Francisco
Otto- New York
Bobtail Ice Cream Co.- Chicago
Valentino's- Las Vegas
Waiola Shave Ice- Honolulu

What Would Homer Say? --RoadDog

Cutty Sark Burns

The world's last remaining clipper ship, the Cutty Sark, caught fire on May 21st and was severely damaged. The people operating her since she became a museum in 1954 were in the process of an extensive restoration. Fortunately, a part of the ship had been removed at the time of the fire so not everything was lost.

She was built in 1869 on the River Clyde and was originally involved in the tea trade. At one time, the Cutty Sark was the fastest ship afloat. Since 1954, she has been in drydock by the Thames River in Greenwich, England.

I always thought the name was Cutty Shark. I also really like Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky, well, it took some getting used to the taste.

I was fortunate last summer to get to not only see the Cutty Sark in person, but I also took a tour of the vessel. It was during one of the hottest summers on record, and, not very pleasant below deck. This was one beautiful ship and I hope it can be rebuilt to its former glory.

Accomplishments After One Year of Retirement

I just realized that I have now, as of yesterday, completed one full year of retirement. Now that went fast!!! I thought school was going fast the last ten years, but nothing compared to how fast this has gone.

I had plans to clean up my music room, garage, and study. Well, the study WAS clean, but I didn't get around to the others.

I have taken a lot of road trips including the whole length of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, several trips out to the Mississippi River, a trip on the Dixie Highway and a couple trips back to visit family in North Carolina.

Plus, I have gotten very involved in several travel forums: RoadTrip America, Historic 66, and American Road. I also am involved in several e-groups: Route 66, Lincoln Highway, Illinois Lincoln Highway, US Highways, US-20, and US-50.

I have definitely enjoyed this retirement. I highly recommend it as soon as you can afford it.

Enjoyin' the Good Times. RoadDog

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Down Da Road I Go- Part 4

1. I was glad to hear that the great old sign for Art's Motel and Restaurant in Farmersville, Illinois, south of Springfield, has been restored by the efforts of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, to which I belong. It was in absolutley horrible shape as was the motel and restaurant.

However, in the last two years, the place was bought and extensively renovated. All except the sign. The preservation group of the association went there and the sign now looks as good as it did when it was new.

The place is located right on Route 66. The motel dates to 1960 and the restaurant to 1937. It was formerly the Hendrick's Brothers Service Station from 1920 (before Rt 66) to 1937.

Always glad to hear news like this. Way to go preservation committee!!!!!

2. The same preservation committe is planning on helping to restore the outside of the Mill Restaurant, 11929-1990s, in Lincoln Illinois. It has fallen into extremely bad repair and was in danger of being destroyed.

It was noted for its delicious schnitzel. There are old windmill blades on the front of the building.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Dead Page- Lucille Meyer

Lucille Meyer- 1896-2007

Survivor of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906

Lucille Meyer died May 23, 2007. She was nine years old when the earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906. She was visiting family friends in San Mateo when it happened and would only rarely bring up her experiences.

In a 2005 interview in the SF Chronocle she said: "You could see all the smoke from the city...and bits of ash coming down from the sky." She came back a few days later. "Everything was flattened from the Ferry Building to 20th Street.

Her home was gone and her family moved to the Ocean View neighborhood.

At 111 years of age, Mrs. Meyer not only lived through that historical event, but a lot of other stuff. She was born even before flight.

122 Year Old, 16 sided Barn Collapses

Sad to read today about the loss of the historic Teeple Barn in Elgin, Illinois, due to the high winds of Thursday, May 24th. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and had managed to withstand the onslaught of suburbia and Chicago's continual urban sprawl outward.

It was located south of the I-90 toll road on Randall Road. I have often admired it while on the bus to O'Hare. We have a last stop at a motel the other side of the interstate. It always looked so strange sitting there; an example of the area's agricultural past completely surrounded by modern life. I always wondered how come it was able to still be there.

Preservationists have spent thousands of dollars keeping it repaired and recently another $100,000 was recently spent to fix the cupola which holds the structure together. At one time there was a plan to move it to a more rural setting, but plans were in the works to turn it into an agricultuarl center.

Always sad to have something like this happen, but at least it was the victim of the elements and not some developer, or worse yet, a Walgreens.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

That Good Old Carolina 'Cue--Part 1

Some of my first memories are of going to Griffin's in Goldsboro, NC, for some of that great Carolina-style bbq. I sure liked the barbeque, and developed my "style" of eating it. Every forkful has to have both bbq and cole slaw on it in order to be right. (I'm the same way with corned beef and cabbage- every forkful has to have both.)

I also remember a highlight was my grandfather buying us the 5 cent candy at the counter. I always got Chiclets.

The Chicago Tribune is doing a series on great regional bbq and will be visiting four places: North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas. The first installment was in Wednesday's Good Eating Section. I should mention that the front page of theTribune had both a Scott's Barbeque Sauce label and a picture of the Wilber's Barbeque sign right above the distinctive masthead. How about that, Goldsboro making the front page of the Tribune.

There article was also in the Daywatch online edition. I e-mailed it to several relatives.

The article had a map of NC showing the towns of Welcome (never heard of it), Lexington (the OTHER side), Goldsboro, and Wilson. There were pictures of Lexington bbq, Wilber Shirley (owner of Wilber's who I understand got his 'cue start working at Griffin's). Scott's BBQ Sauce bottles, long-time bbq maestro Leamon Parks at work at Wilber's, and Sybil Scott Seward (from Scott's).

Lovin' that 'cue and Gettin' Hungry Just reading 'Bout It. --RoadDog

No Big Surprise

For probably the 24th time in the last 25 years, the weather here on the Chain of Lakes is absolutely NOT cooperating in the boating department. It is absolutely crummy.

It stayed overcast all day with rain off and on. Plus, temps are in the upper 60s. TNN- Typical Nasty Weather!!!

I guess you'd have to call it a tradition.

However, I wasn't planning on going out anyway. Fortunately, I can do my boating during the week when the lakes are much less crowded. Monday to Friday are great days. We generally refer to those who only come Saturday and Sunday as the Weekend Warriors. I am a Week Warrior.

Friday, May 25, 2007

History on a Stick

I just love that description of those historical markers that you see as you drive down the road. I don't know about you, but I generally make an effort to pull over and read them. This makes the trip even more enjoyable in knowing things that happened at, or near the site.

I came across an article about North Carolina's Highway Historical Marker Program in the Star News On Line. It concerned markers in District D which consists of Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, and Pender counties. There are a total of 17 districts in the state. You will see the letter D at the top and a number signifying the date of placement.

Some of the Civil War Ds are D-58 near the home of William S. Ashe who was in charge of Confederate rail transportation during 1861-1862. Also, D-99 marks the place near the Northeast Cape Fear River where thousands of prisoners of war were exchanged in 1865. Both are on US-117.

One of particulat interest to me, since my mom has a condo at Topsail Beach, is D-104 on Topsail Island marking the existence of observation towers used during the development of the US missile program after WWII was over.

The markers are not always located right on the site because they are paid for and maintained by the state. As such, they can only be on state or US numbered roads.

"'History on a Stick' marks Pender's Past" by Chris Mudarri

Really "Stickin' " it to History. --RoadDog

Back to Those Old Motels

I came across an article in the World Hum site about the rise of "boutique motels" where old ones from the 40s, 50s and early 60s have been taken over and "been bought and completely reimagined by energetic young moteliers with a clear vision of what makes for not merely comfortable but also memorable accomodations."

These are places that you will actually remember, not like when you stay in a national chain in their cookie-cutter rooms.

It went on to discuss the Hotel San Jose in Austin, Tx, and one in New York owned by one of the members of the B-52s. Some of these are essentially bed and breakfasts.

The state of Illinois operates the Rose Hotelas a B&B, on the banks of the Ohio River in Elizabethtown. We spent a night there once and the next day enjoyed a great view as the river rolled past. Then, there was that great breakfast, well worth the $90. This place dates back to the 1820s.

It is good to see that hopefully, not all those old mom and pops are going to disappear.

Dead Page- Part 4

DR. ROBERT F. BETZ 1923-2007

Friend of Illinois prairies

Died April 5, at his home.

Dr. Betz probably did more for restoring Illinois prairies than anyone else. The first settlers encountered mile after mile of this landform and made it their goal to turn it into farmland. Even today, one of Illinois' nicknames is "The Prairie State."

They succeeded admirably, so well, in fact, that by the 1950s, there was hardly any prairie left. Enter Dr. Betz, who, as a biology professor at Northeastern University, campaigned to have the acreage that the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Batavia, Illinois, was looking to turn over, restored as a prairie. This became the 1,200 acre Robert F. Betz Prairie.

He was also responsible for identifying and preserving prairie tracts including the Gensburg-Markham Prairie, the Wolf Road Prairie, the Santa Fe Prairie, the Hinsdale Prairie, and over 40 settlet cemetery prairies. No doubt, he influenced the creation of the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie south of Joliet, Illinois, on the site of the old Joliet Arsenal. This, by the way, is located on old Route 66.

Quite a remarkable man who has done much to keep a part of Illinois' past for future generations.

Obituary in the Chicago Tribune, April 18, 2007. By Patricia Trebe.

Chain of Lakes- Part 4- Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial day Weekend is the official start of the boating season on the Chain. Yesterday, I saw an interview in the Daily Herald, the newspaper of Chicago's northwest suburbs, with the administrator of the Fun on the Fox forum. He goes by the name of Liquid Leisure. I go by the name 'Fessa Parrot when I'm on the site.

www.funonthefox.com

He told of general rules and major parties as well as some of the "party" spots that still exist. Compared to the 1960s and 70s, there are significantly fewer places.

If you want to know what is going on out on the Chain, this is the place for you to check out.

Blarney Island, which boasts "A Mile from Reality" is only accessible by boat. They do have a boat that will take you out to it from Port o' Blarney. This is probably the biggest party spot with hundreds congregating there on the weekends for live entertainment. On Thursdays, they have the very popular boat races.

The Chain of Lakes has been called the second busiest boating destination after the inland waterway and is located 60 miles northwest of Chicago.

Traditionally, we have pretty crummy weather for this weekend, but let's hope it cooperates.

Out on the Chain and Feeling No Pain. --RoadDog, oh, excuse me, 'Fessa Parrot (when boating)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

56th and A-Boating I Will Go!!!

Celebrated my 56th birthday today, but I don't feel bad because Robert Zimmerman is 66. Now that's old!!!

Did one of my favorite things this morning, and that was to do a boat cruise over to McDonald's in Fox Lake, Illinois. This is perhaps the only one in the country that you can boat to. I like to bring my breakfast out and eat it on the boat while enjoying my tunes and reading the paper. About the only problem is the distance you have to walk to get a free coffee refill. I used to just get the small coffee, but someone suggested I spend the extra 20 cents and get the large size. Why didn't I think of that? Sure cuts down on the hoofing.

Usually another thing to do there is feed the mallards, but they weren't around for awhile. I did see two broods of "peepers" as I call them. Those would be the baby mallards and they can sure do some peeping.

There might be a McDonald's on the water in Arizona, but no one knows for sure.

Afterwards, I did some floating, but it was extremely windy and rough, so had to cut it short.

Robert Zimmerman, by the way, is better known as Bob Dylan.

Growing Older, but Not Up. --RoadDog

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Birds and Flowers

Some news from around the house.

The wild phlox (purple) and daisies (white) are in full bloom. I have hundreds of them and it is like a white and purple carpet. I have also been doing a lot of transplanting and dividing of perennials.

I was glad the Mama Robin left. She built a nest on an outside light by the deck, and I haven't been able to use it in the last several weeks without a lot of squawking and fluttering. She should have known that I knew where her babies were and I could have hurt them had I wanted, but didn't. I kept tearing the nest down, but she rebuilt it each time. We left for a roadtrip and the deal was done.

The other day, while working in the flower beds, I heard some hissing coming from a point pretty close to my foot. Hoping it wasn't a snake, I looked down, prepared to do some serious motivating if it was, but it ended up being a female mallard. She didn't try to run away, so I figured she was sitting on a nest. Later, I saw that she was.

We are about two miles from the nearest water, so can't imagine why she would build a nest in my yard, or how she intends to get those cute little "peepers" as I call them to water once they hatch.

Chain of Lake Part 3

Yesterday, I finally put my boat in for the season. My buddy Frank came over and we launched it at the Chain of Lakes State Park, about five miles from the house. The best part of launching there is that it is free. It will cost you $20 most anywhere else on the Chain.

Who knows, Joliet and Marguette might have used the very same place when they were exploring the Fox River back in 1763. The Illinois city of Joliet and Marquette University in Milwaukee got their names from these two.

This is one neautiful place. It borders three natural lakes- Grass, Marie, and Nippersink, and even has a 44-acre lake within its boundaries. Overall, it consists of 2,793 acres. It is located 60 miles northwest of Chicago.

Dead Page - Part 3

Robert Adler- 1913-2007

Gave the world the wireless TV remote!!!!

Now here was a guy who really had an impact on us. Without him, there would be no channel surfing, arguments as to who has control of the remote, or futile searches for "missing" ones.

Robert Adler, 93 , died Feb. 13, 2007, in Boise, Idaho. He was born in Vienna, Austria, and accumulated over 180 patents during his life. In 1956, he and Eugene Polley designed the Zenith Space Command wireless control device for televisions. It used ultrasonic sound waves instead of a beam of light as the previous Flashmatic had done.

It made it possible to fully enjoy the benefits of cable and satellit technology and created a way to avoid TV advertising.

Interesting quote from Dr. Adler, "First and foremost, I hardly ever turn the TV on. And I certainly never channel surf." He actually seemed embarrassed about all the fame he achieved with what he considered to be one of his lesser inventions.

After coming to the US before WWII, he began employment at Zenith in 1941. He worked with oscillators used for military communication during the war.

Another invention of Adler's was a synchronizing circuit that allowed more stability in fringe areas of TV reception. He also pioneered technology employed by touch screens that are used so much today. Even with all his success, Dr. Adler continued working. His last patent application was Feb. 1st.

I love my many remotes and hate it when I misplace them. I especially like my remote to the CD jukebox where I can skip songs as much as I like to the chagrin of my wife and friends.

Facts from Chicago Tribune, Feb. 18, 2007 by Trevor Jensen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Egads, Cubs Win Two!!!

Ouch, the Northsiders beat the good guys two out of three this past weekend. I HATE when that happens as you then have to live with gloating Cub fans until the return matchup at Comiskey Park. (I won't call it by its new name, the corporatizing of America.)

I didn't know it was possible to hit as many opposite field down in the corner shots as the Cubbies were accomplishing.

The games were held at historic Wrigley Field which was built in the 1920s and hopefully will not be torn down. They now build the new parks to exude the old and tradition such as WF. This past April 30th, it was chosen by the publics' vote as being one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois on the www.enjoyillinois.com site. There is an excellent video of Wrigley Field and the other six regional winers.

This competition is called The Crosstown Classic and has been going on since at least the 60s when I first started watching both teams. At first, before interleague play, it was an exhibition game. Unfortunately. both teams would rest their starters and call up players from the minors so it really wasn't that good of a game. You would be hard pressed to determine who the better team was. This interleague play makes it REAL. I love it.

Hoping for better luck at Comiskey. --RoadDog

More on the Mom and Pop Motels

A definite plus for staying at a mom and pop motel is the price, often in the $40-$50 range. Also, you get a better feel for the road and for the retro. Many of these are 40+ years of age. Plus some are a bit esoteric and more than a few are built along a theme. (See Wigwan Villages)

They definitely aren't of a cookie cutter variety as are most chains. Let's see, am I in Omaha or Miami, or maybe San Antonio? Instead of having your continental breakfast in a small room with a TV going, in Williams, Arizona, at The Grand Motel, you can have it outside on the patio (weather permitting) overlooking the mountains and traffic along old Route 66.

A definite minus (and plus for the chains) is that you never know what to expect from the experience standpoint. In an attempt to stay open, some of the mom and pops have fallen into serious disrepair or are to long-term residents of dubious standing. Some are essentially drug houses or brothels.

How to avoid an unpleasant experience of this sort would be to eyeball the place. If it looks to be well-kept up, with trimmed bushes and flowers, it is probably ok. Look at the vehicles in the parking lot. If they look to be in good shape and running, (definitely not junked) that would be a plus as well.

Ask to see a room before getting one. Take a look at the people staying there if they are around. Stop at a service station or local tourist center and inquire about suggestions. Travel guides are another good source of information.

If you're on Route 66, there are many books and an excellent Yahoo e-mail group where you can inquire.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Sunday, May 20, 2007

USA Today- Demise of Mom and Pops Motels on Route 66

Came across an article in the USA Today about the sad situation of motels along Route 66. Many of these places have not been able to adapt to the loss of traffic because of the interstates and the franchise motels that people prefer today.

The Route 66 Federation estimates that there are at least 3000 motels along the road in varying states of repair and disrepair. The articles said, "Holiday Inns, chain gas stations, and drive-thrus have replaced neon and quirky." People prefer the homogenized instead of the unique these days.

It is very sad to drive along and see these crumbling, litter-strewn, graffitied, abandoned car, flophouse places. Things change and you have to be able to adapt to them. These mom-pops didn't, and are and have paid the price.

The article mentioned the 16 room Cotton Boll Motel in Canute, Ok. with its oft-photographed sign, where current owner Pat Webb uses it at a personal home, but leaves the sign up for tourists. In Miami, Ok., the Riviera Courts Motel is crumbling. The Chelsea Motel, in Chelsea, Ok., was built in 1935. New owner John Hall uses it for a home and storage for his wife who is a bit of a packrat and uses the rooms for storage.

Not all is sad though. Also in the same town, Franka and Trudy Jugler have opened the six Chelsea Motor Inn as a tribute to Route 66 motels. They intend to build teepees and are renovating an 1890s farmhouse next door into a B&B.

There are other Route 66 motels that have made the transition and are definite places to stay on your trip. The Munger-Moss in Lebanon, Mo., and the Rail Haven and Rest Haven motels in Springfield, Mo., come top mind. The Wigwams in Arizona and California are also excellent choices.

At a recent Route 66 Association of Illinois meeting in Pontiac, a person from the Illinois Historical Preservation Association said that the motels were the most endangered as well.

Next time you're on a trip, check out a mom and pop motel. A mom and pop motel is one that is not part of a national change and usually have a more unique architecture.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Down Da Road I Go Part 3

Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway

1. Chicago's old fave, Marshall Fields is no more, but fans have not forgotten the institution we lost this year. Federated Department Stores, who changed the name to Macy's, reports that sales have been very disappointing thus far. I hated to lose the store, but rarely shooped at it because they were a bit too expensive.

2. Logan County, Illinois, is hosting a garage sale along Route 66 called "37 Miles of Smiles" on June 9th-10th. The towns of Atlanta (home of the ugliest watertower I've ever seen with a big smiley face on it), Lawndale, Lincoln, Broadview, and Elkhart will be participating. Not only will there be lots of garage sales, but also vendors will be set up at strategic points along the route.

This will also be in conjunction with Ernie Edwards, "The Old Coot on 66"'s 91st birthday. He operated the late great Pighip Restaurant from the 1937 to 1992. He is quite a character and was out working on a split rail fence when I stopped by back in April, at that age!!! He plans to have some of those great Pighip sandwiches on hand for visitors. However, I have to work back here so won't have the opportunity to enjoy it.

This also is being held at the same time that the Route 66 Association of Illinois is having their annual Motor Tour through it. I am a member of it. Again, I won't be able to participate in it. Sigh! Probably couldn't afford the gas anyway!!!

3. One of our favorite places to visit in August is Dekalb, Illinois, where Liz and I went to college at Northern Illinois University. School starts and usually the Huskies have a home game. But the biggest reason is Cornfest.

Plans are already underway for the 30th annual one Aug 24-26 this year. Lots of corn (even free ears from 10-noon Saturday), food, and music as Dekalb's Main Street, the old Lincoln Highway, is closed between First and Fourth streets along with many of the side streets.

However, Cornfest 2008 will be held elsewhere because of anticipated road repairs. They're thinking of having it at either the Dekalb airport or the NIU Convocation Center. It is still to be seen if it will return to Main Street in 2009. I sure hope it does.

Scheduled for this year already are country band Sawyer Brown and American Idol finalist Becky Covington as well as many local favorites.

Last year, both Liz and I got carded going into Andy's. Can you imagine getting carded at age 55!!!! We thought they were kidding, but they weren't.

4. The 28th Annual Lincoln Highway Bridge Festival is being held this weekend in Tama, Iowa. This is a celebration of what many consider to be the prettiest bridge along all of Lincoln Highway. It is a small one with the words Lincoln Highway formed in the guardrails. At one time it was to be destroyed but saved by a civic movement.

We've been by it several times and this is AN impressive structure.

Of interest, today at 3:30, the band Route 66 will be playing. How about that, Route 66 on the Lincoln Highway. Bet they'll play "Get Your Kicks on the Lincoln Highway."

Now, why would anyone ever consider putting a Smiley Face up on their Watertower? --RoadDog

Wigwam Motel- Cave City, Ky

Back in April, I stayed at Wigwan Motel #2 in Cave City, Ky. For those of you who don't know, these are built to look like Indian teepees.

The very first one was built by Frank Redford in 1934 at Horse Cave, Ky. It has since been demolished, but the site is marked by a mural on the side of a gas station. His next one was not far away, at Cave City in 1937. This is where you go for a tour of Mammoth Cave.

He licensed franchises and eventually seven were built, three of which remain. This one and two along Route 66, one in Holbrook, Az., and one in Rialto, Ca. Others were built in Florida and New Orleans.

The three remaining are and have been nicely restored. As they say, "Spend a night in a teepee" and one even says "Do it in a teepee."

I was with a group touring the Dixie Highway and Jackson Highway. We had two great barbeques at the pavillion as well as a campfire down in the depression that fronts the teepees. Talk about a night in retro!!!

Going on the War Path. --RoadDog

Beach Music Week in North Carolina

I see where NC Governor Mike Easley has declared next week, May 20-26th as Beach Music Week. Beach Music Day will be celebrated May 22nd on both the state capitol grounds and the Sheraton Capitol Center.

Admission is free and Beach greats Embers, Maurice Williams (Stay), Band of Oz, Clifford Curry, Billy Scott, and 86 year old Bill Pinkney and the Original Drifters, and others are scheduled to play.

The governor is a big Beach Music fan as am I. This is not to be confused with West Coast Beach Music as performed by the Beach Boys. This is East Coast, primarily Carolinas, North and South, music. I probably have the biggest collection of Beach Music north of the Carolinas.

To get an idea of the music, you can listen to 94.9 the Surf out of North Myrtle Beach on the internet, and especially Billy Smith, the old BSer in the morning.

Generally speaking, Myrtle and North Myrtle Beach are considered the epicenter of Beach Music.

Also, there are several stations on Live 365 and The Endless Summer Network, all on the internet.

Great music that crosses many different venues. The main beach dance is called the shag and is like a slow bop.

Keep Shagging Down Ocean Drive. --RoadDog

Friday, May 18, 2007

Go You White Sox!!!

The first part of the annual Chicago cross-town Sox vs. Cubs series begins in a few minutes. As a Sox fan since 1965, you know who I'm pulling for. However, I am not like many, who, if they are Sox fans, hate the Cubs, and vice versa. I will pull for the Cubs all the time, UNLESS they play Da Sox.

My all-time favorite Sox team was 1967, even though they pulled a Cubs the last five games of the season and blew the pennant. My second favorite Sox team was 1983. Third favorite would have to be the 2005 World Champions. That was a great time during the playoffs after the roughest two months ever in August and September when they almost blew a 15 game lead. Those Indians just weren't losing. Talk about a great time to hit your stride--- 11-1 in the playoffs.

I see there is a 2005 Championship ring on E-Bay, but way too expensive for me.

Pulling for Da Sox. --RoadDog

Carolina BBQ to be Spotlighted in Chicago Tribune

While perusing Wednesday's Tribune Food Section yesterday, I came across a very familiar logo. It was that of Scott's Barbeque from my hometown of Goldsboro, NC. Beside it was a blurb that read they were going to have an article about it next Wednesday. I look forward to it.

I love all kinds of 'cue, but especially that great pit-cooled, pulled pork in a vinegar sauce that they serve up in the eastern part of North Carolina. Get an order of that along with cole slaw, hushpuppies, and tea, and you have some mighty fine eating.

I particularly like eating out at Wilber's on the US-70 bypass. The interior is just perfect for your enjoyment of 'cue. Nearby McCall's is great as well. and there you can also get a buffet which sometimes includes that great Calabash shrimp.

Lovin' that Great Carolina 'Cue. --RoadDog

"I Dun Seen it All"- BIG OIL Greed

Let's file this under the "I Dun Seen it All" category. Today, I was shopping at a local mega-store, Meijer's, and was given a slip of paper along with my receipt. It read: "MEIJER GAS ALERT!! Get cell phone text message alerts before Meijer Gas Prices Increase."

Never thought I'd see that one. Gas is currently $3.48 to $3.54 around here. Of course, I round up the nine/tenths. $3.48.9 is $3.49 after all. Ridiculous!!! They keep trying to save these prices are going up because of the demands of the summer driving season which goes from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Wait a minute, it's going up and we're not at Memorial Day yet.

I keep a journal and note gas prices whenever they change. These are prices in Fox Lake, Illinois, since the beginning of the year:
Jan. 8- $2.16
Jan.22- $1.98 Ahhhh! The Good Old Days
Feb. 1- $2.10
Feb. 20- $2.28
Mar. 9- $2.43
Mar. 20- $2.54
Mar. 29- $2.69
Apr. 9- $2.80
Apr. 12- $2.90
Apr. 13- $2.96
Apr. 19- $2.88
May 1- $3.12
May 3- $3.16
May 5- $3.26
May 15- $3.49 There is NO excuse for this except BIG OIL greed!!!!
May 28th- the beginning of the summer driving season

Liz and I were planning on taking a trip out to Colorado for the Lincoln Highway Association National Convention, but we will most likely have to cancel it. Looks like we will only go as far away as 200 miles this summer.

I like to travel, but I don't care to make Big Oil CEOs, upper management and stockholders richer than they already are.

Too Poor to Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Dead Page- Part 2

HELEN WALTON- One of world's richest women, wife of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

1919-2007- Helen Walton died April 19, 2007, at her home. She was born in Claremore, Okla., on Dec. 3, 1919 and graduated from the Univ. of Oklahoma with a finace degree. She met her future husband, Sam Walton, in 1942 and were married on St. Valentine's Day, 1943.

In 1945, the couple moved to Newport, Ark., where they opened a Ben Franklin Five and Dime store. In 1950, they moved to Bentonville, Ark, and in 1962, opened their first Wal-Mart in nearby Rogers. Today, this is the largest retailer in the world with over 6,500 stores in 15 countries with headquarters still in Bentonville.

Members of the Walton family continually make the Forbes list of wealthiest people. This past March, she was listed as the 29th richest individual in the world with $16.4 billion. Her three surviving children are ahead of her on the list.

She was well-known for her philanthropy. As president of the Walton Family Foundation in 2002, a $200 million gift was given to the Univ. of Arkansas. Earlier, they gave another $50 million to the school for the Sam M. Walton School of Business.

She also set up a Walton Scholars for the children of Wal-Mart employees and 150 scholarships are given annually.

Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs have had a huge impact on the US and the world. Have you ever seen a Wal Mart where the parking lot was essentially empty. This is quite a self-made story.


BOBBY "BORIS" PICKETT- Creator of "Monster Mash"

1938-2007- Bobby "Boris" Pickett died April 21, 2007. He is best know for the Halloween classic "Monster Mash" where his "dead-on", sorry about that, Boris Karloff impression took the song all the way to Number 1 in 1962.

How many of you can remember the words: "He did the the monster mash...it was a ________ smash." Now, I'm singing this song in my head.

He also had a Christmas song about these strange assemblage called "Monster's Holiday."

One of my favorite all-time songs. Remember the "cryptkicker ____." "Whatever happened to ___________."

The Dead Page- Part 1

The last several years I taught school. I had my kids do current events at the start of every class. These tasks kept them busy while I was taking attendance and doing various administrative work. This was a great way to maintain classroom discipline while I was otherwise involved.

There would be several questions on the board when they walked in and they would have to look items up in their textbook that had something to do with the story. I'd also include the obituaries of people I felt had had an impact on the world, and especially their lives.

After having the kids answer the questions, we would enter them into folders which also had maps where they would locate the site. We'd have several obituaries a week and the kids got to calling this "The Dead Page."

The kids also had a "This Day in History" page to fill out, where I would pick two or three events from that particular day, and we would discuss it. This way,I "connected" the kids to history.

I still read the obituaries both in the paper and online and I find a lot of fascinating stories. From time to time, I will include some on the Roadlog.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chain of Lakes- Part 2

After Frank and I left Thirsty Turtle, we cruised over to Captain Curt's to see what was happening there. Captain Curt's is located by a trailer campground, also something we're losing on the chain.

They weren't open. As a matter of fact, they were closed. People were inside completely gutting the place. These old bars and restaurants date from the the 40s or earlier, and generally aren't up to modern codes. They said they hope to be open by the traditional start of the boating season, Memorial Day, and the new place will be called Chrome. Sounds, unfortunately, like a twenty-something pumping music kinda place to me.

But, at LEAST, it is not being torn down with McMansions replacing them.

Next, we bounced our way--very WINDY and whitecaps- over to the Sandbar on Lake Marie, another classic old bar/restaurant located by a trailer park. This place has had two different owners in the last couple years and at times, looked as if we were going to lose it. However, the new owners are also pumping a lot of money into improvements and it looks like it will pull through.

So, that is good news on all of the places we visited today.

Archaeology News

Three recent articles of interest:

1. Pittsburgh, Pa.- Workers at Point State Park, where the Allegeheny and Monongahela rivers join to form the Ohio River, have found what they believe to be part of the drainage system of the old French Fort Duquesne.

There is a $35 million renovation being done to the park as Pittsburgh continues its efforts of beautification. Unfortunately, the drainage system will be covered over with earth.

This fort played a role during the French and Indian War when it was destroyed and later, British Fort Pitt built on top of it. Both forts were wooden stockade ones.

In a couple weeks, renovation will continue elsewhere in the park and they think they might find remnants of the wooden stockade. I would hope they leave this open or even reconstruct it.

2. Starhill, Louisiana- US-61 is going to be widened and archaeologists are excavating along the path of it. They have uncovered the ruins of a sugar mill at a former plantation. They estimate it was constructed sometime between 1849 and 1851. A full documented report was made as the site will be destroyed. Sorry to lose a bit of history here, but that's the cost of progress. At least the report was made.

3. Vicksburg, Mississippi- The Vicksburg National Military Park was vandalized this past week at a cost of over $10,000. About one hundred large holes were dug by persons searching for Civil War relics. These were evidently considerably bigger than what you'd normally find with someone using just a shovel. The worst thing they vandals did was dig out the back of the Texas Monument.

I hate to hear this. These people were probably just looking to get rich on E-Bay.

It Was Da Game May 9th

Again, we thought the game began at 7, but it was actually a 6 PM start, so we hurriedly put our luggage away and went back to the car.

Drove north on the old Lincoln Highway, looking for the Alliant Energy Field, where the Clinton Lumber Kings play ball. We missed it at first and had to double back, then got caught by a long train. It was as it someone was trying to keep us from seeing the game.

The field is located by a Little League field and the gambling boat in a large park area. And speaking of park--ing, that was free!!!! Went to the ticket booth and bought two box seats for $7 apiece, two rows behind first base and the visitors dugout. Regular grandstand is $6 so I thought I'd splurge and get some back support for these tired old bones.

We had only missed the first inning, and the hometown boys, who are in first place in the western division, were down by one run.

They team gets its name from the lumber mills which were numerous in this area at one time. There are some huge houses around town, reminders of the prosperity of the owners.

Nothing like a minor league game to help take care of a day's tension. This is relaxing in a baseball classic way. It will go as it does, not as a time says. They had a person dressed up like their logo walking around doing the standard mascot antics. We really had a great time listening to the person on the pa system. He had a song and comment for about everything. About half of the home players had their own song snippet when they came to bat, usually something to do with their name.

Beer was $3 for a pint and $4 for 24 ounces. Food ranged from hotdogs and burgers to brats and were in the $3 range. Try getting those prices in a major league stadium!!

Also, in the minors, you're likely to see some questionable plays like the one time a Burlington Bee player was caught off first base and in a rundown with two thirds of the Lumber Kings, and he was still able to get to second. Hey, this is a learning experience, that's what the minors are for.

The fifth inning was exciting as the Bees scored four runs and the Kings came right back with three.

The final score was 6-4 with the home team losing. On the way out, we talked with a die-hard fan who said he had season tickets right behind home plate that he spent $260 for. He also goes on the road with them and told us about the great little ballpark in the Quad Cities. Until two years ago, a box seat was just $4!!! Liz and I plan to go back for a home series this summer.

Drove back to the motel, and walked next door to Lassiter's, a bar/billiard parlor. When we stop at night, we often try to find a room near a place where we can meet the locals or fellow travellers such as ourselves. We've met some very interesting people this way. We also try to get places close to NTN sites, a TV trivia game played in over 9000 bars and restaurants across the US and Canada.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chain of Lakes--Illinois Summer 2007- Part 1

One of the great places to visit in Illinois is the Chain of Lakes, located just a few miles from our home. It consists of about nine lakes and stretches of the Fox Rover running both north and south. This is a big congregating for boaters during the summer, and especially on the weekends.

To get an idea of the goings-on here got to www.funonthe fox.com

Well. yesterday, I finally got our boat in to the marina to get it summerized. My buddy Frank came by, and we went out for our second cruise of the season on his boat. The Chicago area set an all-time high for temp yesterday at 91 degrees. Nice and warm, but very windy. Whitecaps everywhere and some of the worst I've seen. But we had the NEED to go BOATING.

We cruised up to the Thirsty Turtle from his place at Grass Lake Landing. The Thirsty Turtly is a real relic of a bygone time on the Chain. At one time, the Chain had probably 100 small mom-pop places with rooms, dockage, and beaches.

During the 1890s to 1940s, the Chain was a main destination for Chicagoans. They'd come by train for the short 45 miles and get a room. Those same trains, until the 20s,would also haul blocks of ice from Fox lake and Round Lake back to ChiTown. These would have been cut during the winter and stored in huge warehouses. Remember, this was in the days before refrigeration.

Along with pier space, the Turtle has a large beach for picnics, and small cottages that used to be rented out to vacationers, but now are occupied year round. There were also rooms above the bar/restaurant.

This is the only place I know of remaining on the Chain. Most of the rest have been torn down and replaced with McMansions.

Out on the Chain and Feeling No Pain. RoadDog

Down Da Road I Go- Part 2

Being an account of some recent road stuff.

1. The Bismarck, ND Tribune reports of efforts by the Old Red Trail Committee to have a 90 mile stretch of US-10 placed on the state's scenic byways list. It was originally called the Red Trail and used by ND's ealiest homesteaders. Later it became part US-10 in 1926. This stretch runs from Mandan (where Lewis & Clark spent the winter of 1804-1805) to Dickinson. It's always good to hear civic groups working to retain the flavor of old highways.

2. The Daily American of Somerset County, Pa., announced that there will be a play on the old Ship Hotel, high up in the mountains of Pennsylvania. This used to be a major tourist spot from the 1920s up until its destruction in a fire in the 70s or 80s. It sat on the side of a mountain and was shaped like a ship. You should look it up and see its picture. It's official name was "SS Grandview Ship Hotel." Laurie A. Conrad, the playwright spent a lot of time interviewing people who were connected with it. It runs June 1-3 and June 8-10 at the Garden Memorial Theater at Old Bedford Village.

This was one great-looking structure, that, unfortunately, I was never able to get to see.

Route 66 News:

3. Wilmington, Illinois' Launching Pad Restaurant has been sold. It sounds like the new owner, Morey Szczecin knows what a goldmine he has acquired and he plans to keep it the same.

The place originally open in 1960 as a Dari Delite. In 1965, the name was changed to the Launching Pad in honor of the US space program. Shortly afterwards, the owners, the Korelc family paid $3500 for a 28 foot tall, 500 pound muffler man. A school contest resulted in its being name the Gemini Giant, today, one of the best-loved icons along the whole of Route 66. He appears large shortly after you enter town from the north, holding that rocket in his hands.

We've stopped here on many occasions and enjoyed the great food and Route 66 stuff all over the place.

4. Arcadia, Oklahoma- the birth of a new Route 66 attraction. This June, a new place will open in Arcadia called Pops. You will be able to get gas (if you can still AFFORD it), and food at the restaurant. But this will not be any regular place. The first thing you'll see is a huge 66 (get it) foot soda bottle lit up at night in LED and with a straw coming out of the top. The gas pumps will have a 110 by 70 foot cantilevered canopy over them. The inside walls are of native Oklahoima red rock. I'd expect there to be lots of retro stuff all over as well.

5. Springfield, Missouri- The historic 1926 Gillioz Theatre, right off the wonderful old square, has finally been restored. Kay Van Kamden's blog told of a trip there to see an old favorite group called the Ozark Mountain Daredevils play together for the first time in 26 years. One of their big hits was "If You Wanna Get to Heaven (You've Got to Raise a Little Hell)"

The city square is beautiful and is the site where the first recorded gunfight in the west took place when Wild Bill Hickock (or do you say Hikok, or Hickok, there is a lot of controversy over the exact spelling) shot down poor David Tutt after he accused Bill of cheating at cards. There is a really small medallion in the street showing where Bill stood. We found it, but be careful of the traffic.

Lincoln Highway Part 3, May 9th

Once in Clinton, we drove way out south, to what they call the Lincoln Highway District and got a room at the Super 8. The LH District has beautiful curving concrete walls, an old timey lamppost, and specially designed Lincoln Highway markers (rectangular signs with a red stripe across the top, white band, and a blue stripe along the bottom). There is a blue L in the middle of it and this is the "L" in the name Clinton. This is one town that pushes its LH heritage. These are located at all four corners of every intersection.

Our big plans for the night called for a trip out to see the local Midwest League's Clinton Lumber Kings game against the Burlington Bees. The Midwest League is classified as Class A professional baseball. All the teams are affiliated with major league clubs. Newly drafted players start here or in the rookie leagues.

We figured the game began at 7 PM and had to do some rushing when we found it started at 6. Probably a good idea to start games earlier in May because of the cold weather we sometimes get in the Midwest. I can remember spending large parts of games watching the White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago in the bathrooms, as they were the only heated places.

Next- a great evening at the ballpark!!!

Lincoln Highway Part 2, May 9th

Drove on westward through Dixon and that magnificent arch over the road downtown. Dixon is the site of Ronald Reagan's boyhood home. We could see that the parkways along the road had been cleared and readied for planting the thousands of lavender petunias that have become the city's summer trademark.

Next, we stopped in Sterling and had lunch at the Parkway Inn, right on LH. It has been there for thirty years. Not only do they have great meal deals, I got a pepper steak on rice with a great sauce, soup, salad, bread, and dessert for $7.29; but also their soup comes in a bowl ($1.99) and is some of the best I've ever had. Then there's the 19 varieties of pie, and, at $1.59 a slice, a great deal. I had a Dutch pineapple as I've never heard of it before. Pineapple never tasted better. I highly recommend the place.

Leaving Sterling, we got on Illinois Highway 2, the old LH alignment and drove through some mighty pretty countryside.

I should mention that Illinois has some of the best historical road signage I've ever seen. You could essentially drive US-66, the National Road (mostly along US-40), or the Lincoln Highway without a map.

Got back on US-30through Morrison, where there is a lot of road construction, past the Lincoln Highway B&B with its Boy Scout LH marker. Unfortunately, it is for sale. Hope someone buys it and continues with the LH heritage.

We took US-30 across the Mississippi to Clinton. The original LH headed north and crossed the Mississippi at Fulton, Illinois.

Lincoln Highway Part 1 - May 9th

Lincoln Highway was the nation's first transcontinental highway, dating from 1913. As such, it predates the arrival of US-66 and the rest of the numbered US highway system by 13 years. Much of the former LH alignment has been subplanted by US-30 and now, I-80.

Left on May 9th and took Il-47 to Plank Road, the way we used to go from Palatine to NIU during our college days. Back then there wasn't much along the length, other than the town of Burlington. When you get to the other end by Sycamore, and Il-23, there wasn't anything back then, but now it's just one subdivision after another. Chicago's sprawl has gotten this far out. I pity the people who have to drive way back toward Chicago for their jobs with this current BIG OIL Gas Gouge!!!!! Home prices are more reasonable way out here, but then there's the gas problem. Plank Road got its name because at one time it was actually a road with planks.

We got onto the old Lincoln Highway in Dekalb, taking it out past Malta and the "Seedling Mile" where, back in the 1910s, a one mile stretch was paved with Portland Concrete to show how great driving would be once the entire length of Lincoln Highway was paved from Times Square in NYC all the way to San Francisco. It is just to the east of Kishwaukee College and there is a plaque located on the grounds explaining the Seedling Mile.

For this stretch of the LH it runs along Illinois Highway 38.

Continued on through the Hub City, Rochelle, Illinois, so named for the number of trains passing through it every day. They even have a Railroad Park, where you can go to see the 100+ trains that pass through each day. This is a railroad buff's nirvana. All along this stretch of LH, there are lots of moving trains just to the south of the road.

Stopped at the 1850s Lincoln Building in Franklin Grove, which serves as the headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association. The LHA was reformed in 1990 and now has 3000 members throughout the US and the world. I needed to find out the time and location of this Saturday's joint meeting of the Illinois and Iowa chapters of the LHA.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Down Da Road I Go- Part 1

Being an account of some road stuff going on recently.

Route 66:

1. Route 66 towns in Illinois from Joliet to Towanda (just north of Normal) are having their Red Carpet Corridor Celebration this weekend. Lots of entertainment and garage sales. I would have gone to this had it not been for last night's wedding.

2. WGN TV runs a special every Thursday during their 9 PM CST broadcast where Julian Crews takes to the road and visits a part of Illinois. This is in conjunction with the state's enjoyillinois website. This past Thursday, Crews cruised the Route 66 sites in Springfield. They included Bill Shea's service station museum, the Cozy Dog, the Lincoln souvenir store, and the Funereal Museum. Go to wgntv site and click on Cruising Illinois.

3. Unfortunately, the Cozy Dog did not make the final cut of Enjoyillinois' Seven Wonders of Illinois competition. During March and early April, internet users were allowed to vote daily for their favorite places in the seven regions of Illinois. Route 66 folks like me really got out the vote for our places, but we came up short.

4. I see that the city of Carthage, Missouri, got a $100,000 grant to create a Route 66 museum in that beautiful county courthouse of theirs. This is a magnificent structure and was used as the model for the courthouse in the "Back to the Future" movies.

5. Federated Department Stores, still under a massive amount of criticism for dropping the Marshall Fields moniker in Chicago, is working on a plan to bring back production of the famed Frango Mints. Well that will help, but.... Actually, I rarely ever shopped at Marshall Fields as it was a bit on the too expensive side for me. Also, Federated is planning on closing the old Fields store in Lake Forest. It was the very first place Fields expanded to from their famed State Street store. Of course, now these stores are called that New Yorky Macy's.

Alpine Country Club- Round Lake Park, Illinois

Yesterday, I deejayed a wedding for a friend's daughter at a historical place in Round Lake Park, the Alpine Country Club.

On the way, I was able to see the sad progress of destruction at my old school. About half the fine arts wing is down. Humans are doing what the tornado couldn't. Looked a lot like that poor town of Greenburg, Ks. that was so devastated yesterday.

The Alpine CC overlooks Round Lake on a huge parcel of wooded land. Don't you just know that some developer has his eye on it and is just salivating. Let's hope we get to keep this place.

It has a big veranda overlooking the beach as well as a wrap around porch. The banquet room opens out onto this veranda. Of interest, this place originally served workers of an old ice company during the winter months. In the days before refrigeration, the good folks in Chicago got their summer ice from Round Lake and the nearby Chain of Lakes. Ice was cut off the lake and hauled to huge storage sheds where it was kept until use during the summer. Legend has it that a small locomotive used to pull the heavy blocks of ice was left on the lake after operations ceased in the early 1900s, and, with the arrival of the spring thaw, sank to the bottom of the lake. Word has it that it stil rests on the there.

The wedding was originally to take place outside, but it was fairly cool and threatening rain so it was held inside. Great food. The only problem with the place from a deejay standpoint was that the bar area is separate from the banquet room. Generally, the people most likely to dance and party, hang out at the bar. Fortunately, this group spent their time between the two.

More on Magee

Maybe I got it! Evidently, I have to right click and open as a new window to get anywhere, so I'll do some catching up. I haven't been able to post since I got home. I just don't understand these new machines. I've sure had my problems with this blogspot.

I started teaching at Magee in August of 1973, just a few days after I was married. We had to cut our honeymoon short so I could report to school. We were married in Dekalb, Illinois, where Liz and I had both just graduated from Northern Illinois University. Our reception was held at the old Holiday Inn, now a Best Western, right on the old LINCOLN HIGHWAY. Although, back then, the fact that it was a historical road didn't mean a thing.

I got the job just two days before the marriage. Back then, the idea was to give you a room, some books, then let the kids in. SINK or SWIM, BABY!!!! It didn't help much when my first class came in and I had 60 kids in a half a room with 25 desks. Oops, some sort of an administrative goof. After getting that straightened out, I was on my way to a 33 year teaching career.

I had student taught at Maine West High School in Des Plaines and was ready for high school students. BUT, I had junior high students, a different animal indeed. I had two classes each of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. It took me TWO years to get to like these kids.

I understand that they intend to renovate the rest of the building, including where I taught. I spent two years in the half room, where my kids had to walk through a special ed room to get to my part of the room. There were another five years in Room 224, and the last 24 in Rm 227.

I wasn't very happy to move to a new building in 2004 and wanted to spend my entire teaching career right at Magee. The only good thing was that I was paid to cleanup and eliminate 31 years' worth of accumulated stuff, so when I retired in 2006, it wasn't as bad of a job as it might have been.

The original building, as I said before, was built around 1905. A huge addition was made in 1955 and another around 1978.

....As a matter of fact, if they reopen my old Magee, I just might return to teachi.... Nah, I'm enjpying retirement too much.

They're Tearing Down My Old School

Found out my my wife Liz on Friday, that they're tearing down part of the school I taught in for 31 years, Magee Middle School in Round Lake, Illinois. The part they're destroying was called the Fine Arts Wing where music and art were taught.

Sadly, this is the oldest school building in Round Lake, dating back to around 1905. Part of the roof was torn off by a tornado in 1928.