Today, December 30th, has been officially declared Bill Shea Day in Springfield, Illinois, in honor of his long-time connection with Route 66 in that city. Not only is it his 90th birthday, but this year also marks his 66th operating a business along the road on the north side of town, a little south of the State Fair grounds.
No trip through town for us is complete if we do not stop and pay a visit with him (also necessary is a Cozy Dog fix).
Mr. Shea is one of the great ambassadors of the Mother Road and I am sure glad we had the opportunity to meet him on many occasions. And he is one of the originals, those persons who were working on 66 when it was an actual commissioned road. Earlier this year, another Route 66 original, Ernie Edwards, celebrated his 94th in Lincoln, Illinois. Both men are great story-tellers.
I hold Bill Shea as part of the reason Liz and I got so hooked on Route 66. Our first trip on the road was 2002. First, we met Rich Henry in Staunton and then encountered both Bill Shea and Tom Teague at Shea's place in Springfield. We didn't have a chance.
With so many of the originals of 66 now gone, we hold meeting these icons dear.
Happy Birthday Mr. Shea. And Congrats to Mrs. Shea Who Has Put Up With Him All These Years. --RoadDog