Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Lincoln Highway Bridge in Morrison, Illinois

While in Clinton, Iowa, Sunday, I got a copy of a Quad-Cities Times on Sunday, and it had an article in it about a new bridge in Morrison, which is right on the old Lincoln Highway.

A new bridge is to be built on US-30 over Rock Creek on the west end of town. It is right next to the 160 year old Annan Mill which is quite a beautiful site. It is hoped that this new bridge would be built in such a way as to compliment the mill.

The Morrison City Council has met with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to begin the involved process of getting the structure placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Placement would greatly help the city in its negotiations with IDOT. The IHPA thinks the Annan Mill is a likely candidate to be placed on the register.

Also, near the bridge and the mill is something that is fast disappearing on the American landscape in these days of the ubiquitous cell phones and that is a public telephone booth. Perhaps it can be placed on something to connote its past importance to people.We drove by this area just this past Saturday, and there is still a phone in the booth.

Here's Hoping for a Historical-Looking Bridge. --RoadDog

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dead Page: WW II Vet Walter Launing

When I taught school, I did current events every day. Quite often, I would talk about people who had died. These would be people who had had an impact on lives or who had lived an interesting life. The kids would have to write it down. We did this so often, that some of my students came to call the current events page, "the Dead Page." I continue this on the blog.


WW II vet, entrepreneur

Royal Walter Lauing, 85, died June 28th at his home in Naperville, Illinois.

He was born in what relatives described as "a little house on the prairie" in Blunt, SD. At age 5, his family moved to Downers Grove, Il.

At age 20, he enlisted in the army during WWII and served in General George Patton's 6th Armored Division and 25th Engineers Battalion in Europe. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge and Liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

He had a lot of WWII stories and many about Patton. In the middle of one particularly fierce battle, with shells exploding all over and everyone taking cover, Lauing looked back and saw a tank approaching with someone standing on top of it. "It was Patton himself, waving two silver pistols in his hands."

In the 1950s, Lauing started his own subcontractor bricklaying business, which he ran into his seventies. he did work in several Naperville subdivisions and completed the sixteen stone piers of the Grand Pavilion at Naperville's Riverwalk.

In his retirement, he worked as a living-history speaker with Naperville's HURRAH project and volunteered at the local VA hospital.

July 9th Chicago Tribune Obituaries- story by Joan Giangrasse Kates.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

15 Places to See in Chicago Before You Die- Revised

Patricia Schultz has written a new book "1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die, which includes 15 places in and around Chicago. The Chicago Tribune says she got a few places right, but as long-time Chicagoans, they wanted to revise some of her choices. If there is no other place behind a site, the Tribune agrees. If there is a second place listed, that was the revised choice, sometimes with the Tribune's remarks.

1. The Art Institute of Chicago
2. Arun's---   Borinquen- birthplace of the jibaro, a Puerto Rican-style sandwich
3. Charlie Trotter's---    Alinea- unbelievably delicious, modern, innovative, and original

4. Chicago's architecture
5. Chicago's comedy scene---      Chicago's theater scene
6. Chicago-style pizza---    city's movable bridges- the most in the world

7. The Magnificent Mile---    Chicago's lakefront
8. Millenium Park
9. Museum campus (Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Field Museum)---     National Museum of Mexican Art- get out into the neighborhoods for goodness sake

10. Music in Grant Park---    Orchestra Hall
11. Ravinia Festival---     Pritzker Pavillion- easier to get to, stunning setting, it's free
12. Superdawg (hotdog place)---     Gene & Jude's

13. Taste of Chicago---     Bud Billiken Parade
14. Wrigley Field
15. Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio---     City Hall

I imagine this could start some arguments about these choices. I would like to add the place by Union Station on Jackson Street where you can see the three forms of transportation that caused Chicago to become the fastest-growing city in history. At that place, you can see the Chicago River, the trains, and, you're standing right next to Good 'Ol Route 66. I was on a walking tour of Route 66 architecture when noted Chicago expert on Route 66, Dave Clark,  pointed it out.

Well. I Agree with Some and Disagree with Others. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Route 66 Death: John Korelc, Launching Pad

JOHN KORELC 1919-2007

Opened the Famous Route 66 Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

John Korelc died on July 23rd. He and his wife originally opened it as the Dari Delite in 1960 before changing the name to The Launching Pad in 1965 to capitalize on the excitement of the space program. It is noted for the Gemini Giant, the 28 foot tall, 500 pound fiberglass (muffler man) green giant holding a rocket in his hand and wearing a space helmet.

He retired in 1986 and his family ran the business until they sold it within the past year.

This is a major Route 66 attraction with customers coming from all over the US and places all over the world. They have great food and lots of Route 66 memorabilia on the walls. Definitely a place to stop if you ever get in the area, about 60 miles south of Chicago, not too far from Joliet.

Route 66 has lost one of those special people that make it such a treat to drive.

Illinois Preservation

1. MOLINE HIGH SCHOOL- Moline, Il- was slated for demolition, but now will be saved and converted to new uses.

2. NEW PHILADELPHIA, near St. Louis, may no longer exist, but it has one of the more interesting stories of any Illinois town. It was started by an ex-slave called Free Frank who had been a slave in South Carolina for 42 years. He purchased his freedom and that of his wife, and moved to Illinois where, in 1836, he bought 600 acres of land in Pike County and founded New Philadelphia for blacks.

It is located near Griggsville, Illinois, the Purple Martin Capital of the US, an interesting story in itself.

GREAT NEWS- it has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. You can find out more about it at: www.newphiladelphia.org or www.freefrank.org . This is a mighty interesting story.

While coming back from the Munger-Moss Motel anniversary celebration last June, I was able to get out to the site, where a lot of archaeological work is underway. If you've ever had the hankering to get your hands dirty digging into history, this would be a great place to visit.

Good News from Illinois. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sad Day in Chicago History- Eastland Disaster

This date back in 1915 was a sad day in Chicago history. The SS Eastland rolled over in the Chicago River and 844 people met their death on a day they were to go to a big company picnic. Unfortunately, today very few people today know anything about it. It is regarded as the worst maritime disaster on the Great Lakes.

This past Sunday, the Eastland Disaster Society commemorated the event with a ceremony at the site of the sinking between LaSalle and Clark streets. The US Coast Guard put bouquets of flowers in the river. The Eastland was about to embark for a Western Electric annual picnic to take place in Michigan City, Indiana. There were 2,570 passengers aboard when the ship suddenly listed over to its side in just 20 feet of water, trapping many people inside where they had gone to get out of the rain. It happened so fast, there was no chance to use the lifeboats or pass out life jackets.

One woman, Pat Allen, was there to honor her father, Frank Garbe who had been aboard the ship, but had disembarked to buy some cigars. On his return, he found the ship on its side. And they say smoking is dangerous to your health.

There was one other story in the July 23rd Chicago Tribune, where on of the victims was just called "little feller" by the police as they didn't know his name. Five days later, his grandmother and two neighbor boys identified his body as Willie Novotny. His parents and sister also perished that day.

The Eastland was launched in 1903 and had a history of problems and even a mutiny at one point. The Seaman's Act of 1915 was passed after the Titanic sank and required all ships to carry a full complement of lifeboats. However, this extra weight caused many Great Lakes steamers to become top heavy.


The Eastland was raised in October 1915 and became the gunboat USS Wilmette, a Naval Reserve ship and served in that capacity until February 1940. After WWI, it was given the task of sinking the captured German U-Boat UC-97 in Lake Michigan.

In February 1941, it was recommissioned because of WWII and served to train gun crews for US supply ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. After WWII, it was again decommissioned and broken up for scrap in 1947.

Sources- Chicago Tribune "Society honors dead where Eastland fell" by Jeff Long and Wikipedia.

A Sad Day in Chicago History. --RoadDog

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lotsa Cars on US-30 in the Lincoln-Way Municipalities

In an article by Dennis Sullivan in the July 1st Chicago Tribune, there are evidently BIG car problems along the old Lincoln Highway in the suburbs of New Lenox, Frankfort, and Mokena in Will County, the so-called Lincoln-Way Municipalities.

Chicago's urban sprawl has been steadily growing out in all directions, but one of the fastest growing areas is south of Chicago in the Joliet-area.

In the 1970s, US-30, Lincoln Highway's successor, offered easy travel between these three towns. But, in recent years, the number of cars traveling along it have multiplied as subdivisions and shopping centers have sprouted where once corn and other vegetables grew. As many as 25,000 vehicles travel each day between I-57 and I-80.

Eleven million dollars have been set aside for a much-needed widening of the road.

Cars, Cars, Cars=Roads, Roads, Roads. --RoadDog

Route 66 Revisited

Some news of the Mother Road:

1. SPRINGFIELD, IL- I got some of this story as I didn't want to pay to get the whole thing- A Springfield railroad enthusiast has made a very detailed scale model of the newly remodeled and reopened Union Station. This cost $12.5 million and is located right across from the Lincoln Museum and Library and will serve as Springfield's tourist center. There is still a lot of controversy as some still think it was money ill-spent. I have seen it and it is ONE impressive structure.

2. Ron Warnick's ROUTE 66 NEWS on the death of Ladybird Johnson, said that hers was a mixed legacy to Route 66. Her 1965 Highway Beautification Act, while it did make America's roads more scenic without the clutter of billboards, really hurt struggling Route 66 businesses as billboards along the interstates were the only way to get customers off the interstates.

3. There was some discussion on a website about the WESTERN TERMINUS of Route 66. Actually, it is at the corner of Lincoln and Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica. However, Swa Franzen of www.historic66.com said its spiritual endpoint at Palisades Park at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Drive because of the Will Rogers historical plaque.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Friday, July 20, 2007

Viking Treasures Found in the United Kingdom

The July 20th Chicago Tribune reports in an Associated Press story, that a 9th century gilt silver container, probably taken by Vikings from a monastery has been found by a father-and-son treasure hunting team.

It contained quite a collection of coins and silver and was buried more than 1000 years ago. The British Museum reports that this is the largest find of its type in over 100 years. The items in the container came from Ireland, France, Russia, and Scandinavia.

David Whelan and his son Andrew were walking across a farmers field near Harrogate in northern England when their metal detector went off. They found the cache about a foot down in the soil. There were more than 600 coins and dozens of other objects including a gold arm band, silver ingots and fragments of silver.

These finds have to be reported to authorities in Britain.

I Can Just Imagine Their Hearts Racing When They Uncovered That!!! --RoadDog

Out and About on Route 66

1. Good news out of EAST ST. LOUIS- The July 12th St. Louis Today.com, reports that two of the hangars of St. Louis' Downtown Airport, located across the river in East St. Louis have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.This is where both Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart landed.

Assistant Airport Director Wendi Sellers has tried for years to get federal funds to refurbish them.

The buildings, called Curtiss-Wright Hangars 1 and 2 are brick-sided, two stories and done in an art deco-style. Both have Curtiss-Wright emblems on them of a plane rising above the clouds. The airport is also where Jimmy Doolittle crashed during an air show, but survived.

2. Ron Harsh of the Cartersville, Missouri, Route 66 Welcome Center appeared before the Carthage, Missouri, city board and requested that they institute a better signage program to bring tourists to their city. He said that a lot of visitors had come to him saying they had gotten lost and missed turns.  (We have gotten lost in that town on more than one occasion.)

He told the board that Route 66 attracts visitors from around the world. One day, he had had people come from Norway and Italy.

Ron also suggested that they host the 2010 National Route 66 Festival since no Missouri town has ever done it before.

Still Gettin' My Kicks on Route 66. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Speaking of Road Signs

Just the other day, I noticed an oops near where I live. The town of Ringwood has a sign up with an arrow pointing to US-31, about a quarter mile away. The big problem with that is that US-31 goes through Indiana, not Illinois.

The 31 in question refers to Illinois Highway 31. It should have had the generic Illinois highway sign.

Looks Like Someone Pulled a Rex Grossman on This One. --RoadDog

Ditch the Generic Illinois State Highway Signs

Since I'm on the subject where the Weisses are working on the old, original Il-4 sign in Pontiac, I THINK it is time that we dropped the generic ones currently used in the state and return to the old design. It has an outline of the state with the road number centered in the middle. Now that REALLY looks sharp, and you'd have no problem knowing which state you're in. Well...perhaps also write Illinois at the bottom.

Actually, until I got into old roads back in 2002, I never really noticed the difference between US and state signs. I imagine most people don't either. Just us road fanatics. For that matter, neighboring Indiana has the same state signs, only with Indiana written on them.

Bring Back the Old Illinois State Highway Signs. --RoadDog

Lenore and John Weiss- Route 66 Preservationists

The July 16th Kankakee, Illinois Daily Journal had an article about Wilmington residents Lenore and John Weiss went to Pontiac, Il, recently and have touched up the old Illinois Highway 4 shield on one of the end posts of an old bridge in town. It was getting might faded.

The Weisses have been traveling 66 since 1989 and been leaders in Route 66 preservation since 1994.

About ten years ago, while driving an old alignment on the north side of Pontiac, Lenore caught a glimpse of a faint outline of Illinois with the number4 centered in it. This was the old Illinois State Highway 4 which was mostly done away with when Route 66 was built.

Unfortunately, structural problems to the old 1920s bridge necessitated its replacement a few years ago, but the city kept the end posts, including the one with the Il-4 on it. They also rebuilt the railings to resemble the original ones.

The Weisses have recently updated their guidebook "Historic Route 66 of Illinois" which is now in its 6th printing. This is the Route 66 source you want to use while traveling the old road in Illinois. On our first trip along the road in the spring of 2002, we bought a copy of it at the Cozy Dog in Springfield, and it greatly improved our trip the rest of the way.

They are also still involved with preservation projects like the old Log Cabin in Pontiac, the Mill in Lincoln, and a 1936 gas station in Bloomington. This past weekend, the Route 66 Association of Illinois worked at the wonderfully restored 1920s Standard station in Odell. Several months ago, a lady from Toronto, on a five hour layover at O'Hare, rented a car and drove the nearly one hundred miles to see it.

They also give tours of the Illinois section of the road. You can go to their website www.il66authority.com
They also just recently authored the book "Traveling the...Historic Three" about a 110 mile triangular tour you can make and go on not only Route 66, but also the Lincoln Highway and Dixie Highway, two roads that predate Route 66.

Route 66 is Made up of Many People Like the Weisses. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More from the Chicago History Museum

I'll continue with yesterday's article.

Another interesting display in the exhibit is the 4000 pound "WAUBANSEE STONE" which is a six foot chunk of granite with a human face carved at one end. Popular lore has it that soldiers constructing Fort Dearborn (on the future site of Chicago) in 1803, found it.

In the 1860s, a prominent Chicago family put it in their front yard, and then gave it to the museum in 1914, where it was cut down in size and used as a drinking fountain for 18 years.

There are many stories as to its origins. Some have a soldier in the fort carving it in honor of the Potawatomi Indians. Other stories have it coming from the Phoenicians or Vikings.

The SERPENT SKIN from the Garden of Eden is about one foot square and came from an unnamed church or monastery in 19th century France. Charles Gunther, one of Chicago's biggest history collectors, found it on a trip to France in the 1880s and displayed it in the second-floor museum above his State Street candy store.

A printed label in French says that "Adam took a stake and killed the snake the day after the temptation." A slit in the snakeskin is supposed to represent the wound.

The WOODEN GUN supposedly belonged to Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger who supposedly carved it in his Lake County, Indiana jail cell and used it in his 1934 escape from it. Drugstore owner Charles Walgreen, Jr, donated it to the museum. His father, who was a big gun collector, had bought it, and there was a signed statement from jail guard Ernest Blink attesting that it was the one used in the escape.

Two other museums also have wooden guns purported to be the one used in the escape, however.

The Lincoln STOVEPIPE HAT is another story. Lincoln scholars claim that only three hats survive that can be verified as belonging to him. The one at the museum is not one of them. The museum's hat comes with the claim that it is the one he wore en route to his 1861 inauguration.

Lincoln left Springfield to go to Washington on a very meandering route, including a long stopover in New York City. There was a big fear that someone might try to assassinate him. Supposedly, while there, a hat maker had made one identical to the one that Lincoln had worn for years, and arranged a swap with Lincoln. The label on the hat does show that it came from the haberdasher in Springfield where Lincoln always got his clothing

Other Lincoln objects in the exhibit are a pair of eyeglasses, a swatch of cloth from Lincoln's suit coat he was wearing when he got assassinated, and the bloody sheet upon which he died.

Also, there are questions about some of George Washington's things, including a colorful waistcoat, his ceremonial Masonic apron, and a ceramic mantle clock.

There are some supposed bricks from Christopher Columbus's home where he lived in the New World, some relics of the Great Chicago Fire, and a little glass chest containing tea that supposedly came from the Boston Tea Party.

Articles from the exhibit that curators determine to be fake will not be thrown away because they are so old and are linked with Chicago's history.

This really makes you want to go and spend $12 for adults and free for children under the age of 12.

Careful, This COULD get you Interested in History. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Is it Real, Or, Is it a Fake...Only the Historian Knows for Sure

And even then, he or she may not know. Many people think of history as set in stone and any item from it to be the bona fide, real deal. The old Chicago Historical Society, now renamed the Chicago History Museum, has a new temporary exhibit that runs until January 6th, where you can play the role of a historian and look at 18 items (of the museum's 22 million) and decide if they are real or not.

You are given facts about each one and get the chance to make your own observation. Then, you can see what the historians decided. This is real history and not what you get out of that old cursed school history text. I like this idea a lot, and just might have to visit the place myself.

Some of the objects on display:

1. A wooden gun that may or may not have belonged to John Dillinger and used in a jail escape.
2. Snakeskin that may or may not have come from the serpent that tempted Eve and the Garden of Eden.
3. Stovepipe hat that may or may not have belonged to Abraham Lincoln.
4. Death mask that may or may not have been of John Dillinger.

"Curators lay out all known facts, where it came from, chain of ownership, and supporting documentation. In some cases, there is even laboratory tests for age, or other authenticating evidence."

From July 5th Chicago Tribune "Finding true history among the false" by William Mullen.

Now, this is my idea of an interactive display. Who knows, this might even get some of the visitors interested in history. Great idea.

Only Her Hairdresser Knows for Sure. --RoadDog

Monday, July 16, 2007

Michael Wallis on the Lincoln Highway

When you hear the name of author Michael Wallis, that usually conjures up Route 66. His "Mother Road" book went a long way toward bringing this road "Back" from its decommissioned state back in the late 1980s to the forefront of the old road movement it enjoys today. Plus, he was the voice of the sheriff on the popular "Cars" movie of last year. This venue went a long way to making even more Americans aware of this great road.

However, this month, Wallis and photographer Michael S. Williamson, have just had their new book, "The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate" published. Currently, they are making a road tour of cities located along the Lincoln to promote it. They will be in my home state of Illinois on July 28th and I intend to get an autographed copy in either Joliet or Franklin Grove.

I have met and talked with Michael several times since I got the 66 "bug" in 2002.

Susan Leigh Taylor, of KCBS in San Francisco, Ca, interviewed him on July 12th. She started off by saying the Lincoln Highway runs 3,389 miles through 13 states, and, "It is just the thing to satisfy those with a Jones for kitsch, an itch for the wide-open road, and a hankering to see the real America." I liked the way she put it.

Michael Wallis said that before the Lincoln, America didn't have any highways other than roads made of dirt or pressed rock. This was the first transcontinental one which ran from Times Square in New York City all the way to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.

It is the Father Road to Route 66, the Mother Road, predating 66 by 15 years, 1913 to 1928. You can, like on 66, still drive 85% of the original route.

"Life does truly begin at the off-ramp, and if you need to take the superslab (roadie slang for interstates), those slabs of monotony, that's fine, but you can take a break and take in an episode, or you can take in a spoonful of American before we became generic." In other words, you can get off the interstate to visit a stretch of the Lincoln, or even a small town.

Of course, there are many things of interest to see along the way. When asked to pick one, Wallis immediately mentioned Taylor's Made Rite in Marshalltown, Iowa, where, for five generations, loosemeat sandwiches have been made by the same family. You'll need a spoon to eat is as the 100% Iowa Angus meat will fall right off the bun.

I first got interested in the old road movement by reading about and taking a trip on Route 66. However, my interests soon branched out to the Lincoln, US Route 12, US Route 20, and the National Road. Today it includes pretty much any non-interstate road.

You can hear the whole interview and get a short writeup by going to KCBS's website.

For info on the tour:


Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Time's About Up for Berwyn's Spindle

Let's file this under Walgreens strikes again.

One of Berwyn's biggest tourist draws, other than the fact it has a lot of the famous Chicago bungalow houses and, of course, Route 66, is the spindle in a strip mall parking lot. Now, this is not a normal-sized spindle. It has eight cars from the 70s and early 80s attached to it and rises to 40 feet. I understand, a sizable quantity of pigeon droppings has built up since it was constructed about twenty years ago.

Depending upon who you talk to, it's either an eyesore or an "art icon" or, at least, something mighty interesting to look at.

It will have to be removed some time this summer to make way for a new Walgreens.

The "Spindle" as it is called has been featured on a book cover, radio beer ad, and Wayne's World.

Berwyn Mayor Michael O'Connor is a big fan of it. Currently, it resides in a concrete parking lot at Cermak Plaza at Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road. Efforts are underway to relocate and refurbish it. Estimates have this costing in excess of $350,000.

The artist who made it, Dustin Shuler, was always sure it'd be removed at some point, so he got an agreement that it would be left up for at least ten years. "In hindsight I should have asked for 20 years."

"One of the owners of the land, David Bermant, an art collector who commissioned the sculpture, wanted his own vehicle, a silver BMW bearing the license plate "DAVE" to be on top. But the artist insisted on crowning the structure with a red Volkswagen Beetle-'The cherry on top,' he called it--and put Bermant's vehicle second.'

David Bermant died in 2002, but said earlier that he wasn't completely sure if the "Spindle" was the reason why his shopping center was doing well while others in the area weren't.

In 1990, Berwyn residents voted overwhelmingly against its continued presence. Some people think the $350,000 would be better spent on other projects. Others agree it is not very pretty, but is one of the most-photographed objects in town. Berwyn police initiate rookies by sending them out to investigate "an eight-car pile-up" at Cermak and Harlem. Who says cops don't have a sense of humor?

The Berwyn Arts Council intends to launch a campaign to save the "Spindle".

I am quite involved with Route 66 and, even though it isn't on the old road, many make a detour to see and photograph this interesting object.

I Vote to "Save the Spindle". --RoadDog

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Roadtrippin' 66 in '58

My wife ran into a man at the local grocery store today who saw our car which is heavily loaded with Route 66 license plates and stickers. It is very EASY to spot. He was probably in his 70s and he wanted to talk about his trip on Route 66 back in 1958. He talked with her for twenty minutes. Unfortunately, she had bought some Good Humor ice cream and it was in the 80s.

They lived in LaGrange, Illinois, and went to Los Angeles to visit friends for an extended period of time. They picked Route 66 up nearby and drove it the whole way. He figured that some of the things he saw were still there and some of the things were being renovated.

Liz brought up that Armond Ortega,who owns the Indian souvenir places out in New Mexico had extensively renovated the El Rancho in Gallup. He was happy to hear that.

His wife wanted to stay in one of the Wigwams, but they had a different problem than us, because when we made the whole run last fall, we kept getting to the two remaining ones in Holbrook, Arizona and Rialto, California too early in the day to stop. They were arriving in the late afternoon/early evening and found them with no vacancy everytime.

When they got to the Mojave Desert, it was so hot (remember these were in the days before most cars had air conditioners) that they ended up sitting in a restaurant killing time until dark, when they made their run across the desert in the luxury of 104 degrees.

Once in LA, they didn't care for the arrangements their friends had made and shortened their stay and headed up to Seattle where they found the weather excellent and enjoyed their stay there.

You'll be happy to Know that I just had one of those ice cream bars and it had not melted to some mass of goodness.

Traveling in the Old Days was Quite the Experience. --RoadDog

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lincoln Highway and Route 66: Truckee Trail and Wrink's

A bit of news from two of my favorite old highways.


The new Truckee Trail in California, follows the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, will join the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway, a 116 mile long path. It will include part of the old Lincoln Highway alignment.


I'm very happy to find out that Terry Wrinkle, son of the late Glenn Wrinkle, is planning on reopening the historic Wrink's Market in Lebanon, Missouri. It has been closed since Glenn Wrink's death March 16, 2005. Two women were going to reopen it, but their plans fell through.

Wrink's was built by G.E. Wrinkle, Terry's grandfather in 1946. It was originally to be a hotel, but G.E. became ill and the second story was never finished. G.E. and his wife had previously operated the Jefferson Hotel and Cafe on North Jefferson in Lebanon.

Liz and I were fortunate enough to get to meet and talk with Glenn Wrinkle twice. He operated Wrink's for over 50 years and had lots of great Route 66 stories.

Good News on Both Roads. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 12, 2007

D'oh!!! Springfield, Illinois Lost

Sorry to report, that one of my favorite places to spend time on Route 66, Springfield, Illinois, was the runner up in Fox's publicity stunt to push the upcoming release of "The Simpsons Movie". We lost out to Springfield, Vermont, by 733 votes. Sigh!!! OK, I realize the TV Springfield is a bit dysfunctional and has a lot of goofballs, but....it still would have been nice.

Now, I have to say that I did not like the Simpsons when they first appeared on Fox back in 1989. As a teacher, I had a real problem with Bart. However, in the past five years, I have become a big fan. I'd even say that the episodes today are considerably better than the earlier ones.

There were 14 Springfields across the nation competing for the honor of being declared the town most like the imaginary Springfield of Homer Simpson. It has been a running gag of the show not to reveal the true location. Each town had to submit a short video telling why they were THE Springfield. Fans were then able to view the videos and vote for their favorite on the USA Today website.

Springfield, Illinois, made a valiant effort and was definitely pushed by Mayor Tim Davlin. However, the Vermont Springfield, with a population of 9000 was able to tally over 15,000 votes. Our Springfield has over 100,000 residents. Perhaps the Vermont town was able to get some of the Chicago ghost voters.

First, the Cozy Dog loses out in Illinois' Seven Wonders, now this!!!

Crying in My Beer While Eating Donuts. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Good Ol' Bubbly Creek in Chicago

The South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River; a short 1.1 mile, 200 feet across at its widest point, better known as Bubbly Creek, may be getting a second chance thanks to the influx of some mighty pricey real estate. It is "one of the most notoriously nasty stretches of befouled, degraded, and abused water that has ever flowed in the Chicago area." Make that the whole world.

"The legacy of pollution, most notably untold tons of waste from the Union Stockyards lives on in Bubbly even today."

This is one time that something historical is not worthy of saving in its present form.

Bubbly Creek forms the western border of the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago and is the home of the Daley family. Present Mayor Richard M. Daley has introduced a proposal for the city to pay half of the estimated $2.65 million cost of a detailed feasibility study on restoring the stream.

Pretty much all of Chicago's waterways suffered to one extent or another from industrial pollution, but Bubbly's came from animals rather than chemical byproducts of manufacturing. It came from the millions of carcasses from the slaughter at the various Chicago stockyards, but principally from the Union Stock Yards. This offal included blood, urine, manure, and body scraps.

In 1906, Upton's "The Jungle" described it as: "Here and there the grease and filth have caked solid, and the creek looks like a bed of lava. Chickens walk about on it, feeding, and many times an unwary stranger has started to stroll across, and vanished temporarily."

The ever-present bubbles formed by methane and hydrogen sulfide from the decomposition of the estimated still-present two meters of offal on the creekbed, still bubble even today. The two also heavily polluted streams that joined together to form the South Fork have since been filled in, but you can still tell where the were by looking at street configuration.

The stockyards have been gone a long time and efforts have been made to clean it up and it is a little better. Wildlife, including fish and beavers have returned.

Now, residential development has begun along Bubbly. This is true all along Chicago's waterways, including the mile-long Riverwalk currently under construction along the Chicago River. Being by the water is the place to be.

The biggest is Bridgeport Village where some of the luxury homes have sold for more than a million dollars. One man spent $1.2 million for a 6,600 square foot home right next to it. Now, who in his right mind would spend that much to live next to something as polluted as Bubbly Creek?

Chicago Tribune-July 5th- "Murky Bridgeport waterway has ally in mayor" by Gary Washburn.


It is 156 miles long and runs right through downtown Chicago.

In the 19th century, a major civil engineering feat was accomplished when its flow was reversed from Lake Michigan.

Every St. Patrick's Day it is dyed green.

In 1992, there was the great Chicago Flood when old tunnels collapsed, flooding the basements of downtown buildings.


Helped Chicago get the moniker "Hog Butcher to the World"

Was the center of US meatpacking for 109 years due to the many railroads.

Peaked in 1924

Opened Christmas Day 1865

Closed July 30, 1971. Only the Union Stock Yards Gate (and, of course, Bubbly Creek) remains and is a Chicago landmark.

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, and Not in the Tub Either. --RoadDog

Virginia's Indian Heritage Trail

I always like it when someone comes up with a trail excursion for historic sites, and that is just what the state of Virginia has done. It was created to "portray the Virginian Indian in appropriate light." It hopes to prove that the history of Virginia's tribes did not begin and end with Jamestown.

I like to take a linear approach to history, be it going down Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, or The Bourbon Trail and John Hunt Morgan Trail in Kentucky.

The 80 page interpretive guide is available free of charge at any of Virginia's main points of entry (interstates).

Yesterday, the Northwest Herald ran an Associated Press article titled "Virginia revisits its tribal roots on trail".

Part of the trail leads to the Monacan Ancestral Museum in Amherst County where you can learn about Virginia's "Lost Tribe". They claim that they were able to survive for hundreds of years after the colonists came because they were extremely isolated.

The guide also includes photos, histories of Virginia's eight state-recognized tribes, events and places to visit.
Its creators found and researched over 100 museums and sites in the state and narrowed them down to the ones listed. Many of the ones they visited were left off the list because some displays used language offensive to Indians, and some even sold rubber tomahawks and feathered headdresses.

I went online to check out the site. It is not entirely on the web, but there was a list of Native American related sites in the state. I don't if they're in the trail guide.

ABRAM'S DELIGHT- Abraham Hollingsworth traveled the Wilderness Trail when it was still an Indian path. His home is in Winchester.

MATTAPON MUSEUM and MINNE HA HA (well, I have to wonder about the last one), located in the Tidewater Region at West Point- source of handcrafted traditional articles and artifacts, some as old as 5000 years. They also have Pochahontas' necklace on display. Both places have educational programs, pottery, beadwork, cooking, and Indian medicines.

My Hat's Off to Virginia for Their Efforts in This. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Good Old Funks Grove, Illinois--History

Interesting article in Sunday's Chicago Tribune about Funks Grove, Illinois, which was what sparked yesterday's posting about our experiences there. I knew some of it, but did find out new stuff about one of our favorite stops.

I should also mention that we like the train station and the old antique store in "downtown" Funks Grove. Every year that old store looks worst for wear like the old rusted gas pump out in front of it.

The article starts by saying that you would never know you were so near the strip malls and SHS (my coinage for Standard Homogenized Stuff- when you see the area with all the TGIFs, Wal-Marts, etc.) of Bloomington along Veterans Parkway (the old Route 66 bypass around Bloomington-Normal).

Funks Grove is more than 1200 acres of woodland right out in the prairie between Shirley (And, don't call me Shirley) and McLean (the home of possibly the oldest truck stop in the US, the Dixie Truckers Home which started in 1928). Both of these are REALLY small towns as well.

At one time, it had a roller rink, tavern, and the famous maple sirup (spelled this way because no sugar is added) was sold from the porch of the Funk house. Today, it includes a nature center, a 19th century church, a sugar house, and a rock and mineral museum.

The first pioneer to the area was Isaac Funk in 1824, and ever since, generations of the Funk and Stubblefield families have lived here. Isaac came from the Miami Valley of Ohio, and established a livestock farm. He raised half-wild hogs called "prairie pikes" and had a hard time of rounding them up and taking them to markets in Chicago, Galesburg, and Cincinnati.

He started making the maple sirup for his family, but by 1891, his grandson, Arthur , had begun selling it commercially. This tradition is continued today by Mike Funk and his wife, Debby.

Usually every year, they take sap from over 3000 maple trees to make about 1,800 gallons of some of the sweetest stuff you'll ever taste. They also make a lot of maple candy.

The store is a must-stop for folks touring Route 66. And that's not just Americans. Their guest book has people from all over the world, including" Australia, Bulgaria, England, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Scotland, Singapore, Slovak republic, Sweden, and Switzerland.

There is also the Sugar Grove Nature Center where you can learn more about Funks Grove nature.

"Maple 'sirup' only part of the nature of Funks Grove" by Karen Hansen. Chicago Tribune, July 8th

Thinkin' I Just Might Need a Maple Fix, But They're Probably Sold Out by Now. --RoadDog

Monday, July 9, 2007

Funks Grove--A Real Slice of Route 66

One place we stop at every time we're on Route 66 going through Illinois, is Funk's Grove Maple Sirip, located in Funk's Grove. Even though you're within a third of a mile of I-55, you might as well be a hundred miles away. It's nothing but you and trees on both sides of old 66. You can tell where the east bound (north through here) lanes were when Route 66 was a divided four lane road. Today, it is a flat 50 foot strip of land running alongside the road.

On our very first Route 66 excursion, we encountered the friendliness of folks along the old road right here. It was about 6 PM, and the store had been closed since 4. However, owner Glaida Funk came out of her house and opened just for us. Now, where else would this happen?

We've stopped there numerous times and always like that great sirup (so spelled because no sugar is added). We're also quite fond of their maple candy. One time, we were able to observe them collecting the sap from the thousands of maple trees.

What would Homer say? MMMmmmmmmmnnnnnnn, Gooooood. --RoadDog

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Really Old Milestone Restored in the UK

I came across a very interesting article in the July 5th Comet which publishes out of the United Kingdom.

An ancient milestone, erected by the Parliamentary Act of 1725, has been found, restored, and placed back along the Old North Road which it marked until World War II. Now that is OLD. I doubt that we have any old road signs in the US dating back to that era.

Now, get this, is was taken down on purpose during WWII so that German soldiers would not be able to use it to determine where they were!!! Now that is just some sort of an interesting story. They were so sure they were going to be invaded that they took this precaution. However, it is this "hiding" that probably enabled it to survive as one of the very few such markers still in existence.

It was largely forgotten until a new owner of the land was told by an old man that he remembered it being buried during the war when he was a lad of seven. A search was made and the milestone was found near an old hedgerow.

It was restored by the Milestone Society and re-erected in a safe place alongside the service road along Highway A1 which replaced the Old North Road. This service road was the original alignment of that road, much like parts of the Old Route 66 are now service roads running alongside the interstates. By the way, Britain's interstates are called Motorways, or "M"s.

This is in Lower Caldecote.

Old Roads Are Great, No Matter Where You Find Them. --RoadDog

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Deaths: Popular Crystal Lake (Illinois) Restaurant Owner Frank Martinetti


Owned Popular Restaurant in Crystal Lake, Illinois

Frank Martinetti, 98, died June 24th in Crystal Lake. He was the owner of the very popular Martinetti's Restaurant which operated from 1946-1955 and 1957 to 1976. His was among the very first area restaurants to offer a salad bar, an all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry (very popular in the Chicagoland area), Wednesday all-you-can-eat chicken, and Sunday buffets. All his steaks were hand cut, usually by Mr. Martinetti himself..

He was born in 1908 and after sixth grade, prepared to work in the coal mines. But they closed at that time, so he went into construction and factory work. In 1933, he married Lucille, who already owned a grocery store. She taught him how to merchandise and how to butcher a whole cow.

In 1937, he built Rockford's first supermarket, the Kishwaukee Farmer's Market, which was the first in the state with open air produce coolers.

In 1946, they bought property on US Route 14 in Crystal Lake (where a present-day Pontiac dealership is located). They built a restaurant, lounge, 30 room motel, and a personal residence on it, but unfortunately, it all burned down in a fire in 1955.

They then moved to Las Vegas and operated a health food store for two years before returning to Crystal Lake, where they rebuilt Martinetti's on the same site. It had a 500 seat restaurant, a lounge featuring a theater pipe organ, a 24-hour coffee shop, and a 100 room motel.

Mr. Martinetti and his wife epitomize the American can-do/hard work ethic. They were truly the mom and pops of the road.

From The Northwest Herald- July 7, 2007 "Owner of CL eatery led a full life" by Sarah Sutschek.

Let's Use that Riverfront

Cities and towns across the US are discovering that there is money to be made in their riverfronts. And that is not to mention the great aesthetics of a water view. Chicago is among these with it's mile-long Riverwalk between Lake Shore Drive and Franklin Street. This is Mayor Richard M. Daley's project, and yesterday, he announced that seven summertime businesses were going to be opening along it.

Five of them will be outdoor cafes offering food from French to hot dogs. There will also be a bicycle rental place.

Mayor Daley sees this as only the beginning and I would imagine he hopes to have something along the lines of San Antonio's famed River Walk. That was an impressive place when we visited it.

One problem to be overcome are the bridge structures between the two roads. Plans are for eight under-bridge pedestrian walkways extending 15-20 feet out into the river. Each one will cost an estimated $5 million.

Chicago Tribune July 7- "Chicago Riverwalk gains food, services" by Gary Washburn.

Nothing like a Water View. --RoadDog

Friday, July 6, 2007

Thou Shalt Be a Nicer Driver

If you're thinking of driving while drunk, unlicensed, showing off, speeding, or doing impure things in the car, be careful. The Vatican has issued what amounts to a Ten Commandments of Driving. It is called "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road."

It is necessary because of the 1.2 million deaths that occur around the world each year.

Here they are:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communication between people and not of mortal harm. -NO ROAD RAGE!!!

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforseen events. -Lay off the horn and obscene gestures.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially in accidents. -Don't just slow down and gawk at accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination an an occasion of sin. -No showing off or sex in cars.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in fitting condition to do so. -No drunk driving.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. -Not sure that is too good of an idea.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible towards others.

Now You Have Them. --RoadDog

Great News from Lompoc, California: They Saved the Theater

The 80 year old Lompoc Theater will be getting a major renovation instead of being torn down. It has sat vacant since the mid 1990s, but now, it will once again be an entertainment center.

It will have its seating capacity increased and all the equipment will be state of the art. The second floor will be a bar and lounge.

It is always great when a town chooses do do this instead of the usual tear down. These are structures to be proud of and that can be used in many ways.

In Illinois, the former Woodstock City Hall is now the Opera House where I just saw Asleep at the Wheel this past Friday. The downtown theater in Crystal Lake is now the Raue Center where Liz and I saw Bob Newhart a few years ago. Then, there's the palace of all palaces in Joliet, the Rialto Square Theater.

In my hometown of Goldsboro, NC, residents banded together to save the old Paramount Theater downtown. Unfortunately, it burned down a few years ago.  But was since rebuilt.

Saving the Old Stuff Whenever and Wherever. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 5, 2007

How High is Too High in Washington, DC?

A major debate is going on right now in our nation's capital about whether or not they should start building skyscrapers. The US Capitol and Washington Monument still dominate the skyline of the city.

Those that favor the skyscrapers point out that there is a pressing need for more office space in the capital, something that has caused a huge growth in the outlying areas. Washington has the second-lowest vacancy rate and the second-highest office-space lease rates.

Those opposed to it say that the skyscrapers would destroy the capital city's character.

"Thomas Luebke of the US Commission of Fine Arts, the federal body charged with maintaining and overseeing the memorial core and the overall perception of the city said the architectural landscape is tied to it's role as the nation's capital. 'Washington's different, and it has a certain character that I think is quite unique.' "

Most people believe the rule of thumb as to a building's heighth in Washington, DC, is that it can't be any taller than the Capitol, and at one time that was true, but this was replaced in 1910 with a statute that said that no structure can be more than 20 feet taller than the street it occupies. I didn't know that.

I favor the no skyscrapers group. Imagine a Paris where the Eiffel Tower didn't dominate? It just wouldn't be right.

Some heights: The Capitol- 288 feet, Washington Monument- 555 feet, Sears Tower- 1,450 feet, and St. Louis Arch- 630 feet.

From July 4th Chicago Tribune "High ideals vs. high-rises" by Leora Falk, Washington Bureau.

Keep Those Buildings Low. --RoadDog

Dead Page: Boots Randolph


Nashville musician behind 'Yakety Sax'.   Versatile saxophonist. whose trademark song is forever linked to comic Benny Hill, played with Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison

Boots Randolph, whose 1963 recording of "Yakety Sax" brought laughter to many as the theme song for the Benny Hill Show as he was chasing girls around, died July 3rd, in Nashville at age 80.

Starting in the the 1950s, he became part of Nashville's A Team of musicians of session musicians that was responsible for the "Nashville Sound" that blended country with pop music.

He was featured on Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "I'm Sorry" as well as Roy Orbison's "Mean Woman Blues" and "Pretty Woman". He also was on Elvis Presley's first album released after he got out of the army. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is one of my favorite seasonal songs, and "Mean Woman Blues" is my favorite Roy Orbison tune.

He was born Homer Louis Randolph III, on June 3, 1927 in Paducah, KY. His brother called him Boots to avoid confusion with his father.

"Yakety Sax" was inspired by the Coasters' song "Yakety Yak". It caught the attention of Jethro Burns, of Homer and Jethro. who told his brother-in-law, Chet Atkins who then signed Boots to RCA in 1958. RCA did not see him as a solo artist and made him a session player because of his versatility.

He left RCA in 1961 and signed with Monument Records and made a new release of "Yakety Sax" which stayed for a year on the pop charts. Then, it had a new burst of popularity when British comedian Benny Hill used it in his show,

Boots Randolph, in 1990, said, "'Yakety Sax' will be my trademark. I'll hang my hat on it. It's kept me alive."

We've lost a great one. I can hear those sounds right now.

From the July 4, 2007, Chicago Tribune. They got it from the Washington Post.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Seven-Eleven Becomes Kwik-E-Mart for Simpsons

Well...not all of them, just 12 (11 in the US and 1 in Canada). These stores have been made to look like the Kwik-E-Mart owned by Apu on the Simpsons TV show. All 6000 plus 7-11s will be selling pink with sprinkles doughnuts, Buzz Cola, Krusty Os cereal, special editions (#711 get it!) Radioactive Man comic books, and Squishee frozen drinks.

This is all in connection with the July 21st release of the new Simpsons Movie.

In an AP artcile by David Koenig, "At 7-Eleven, they're hoping it shows that the ubiquitous chain has a trait seen in few corporations-the ability to laugh at themselves."

Rumors of this move have been around, but the exact locations kept secret until this past Sunday, when the exteriors of the 12 stores were given new names and flocked in industrial foam to look like the Kwik-E-Mart. I imagine there were more than a few non-Simpson watchers who were saying "What the Hey!" when they went in for their morning cup of coffee, paper, and doughnut a few days ago. I wonder if some didn't even notice.

This is called reverse-product placement. Instead of the product being placed in the movie or TV show, fake goods move from the screen to reality. Malt-O-Meal will be making up the KrustyOs, and one flavor of Slurpee (I'm mighty fond of Slurpees, having had my first one in a trip out to California in 1967 and a fan ever since) will be sold as "Woo Hoo! Blue Vanilla" squishee. This all will run for a month.

WHAT? NO DUFF BEER!!!!!!!!! The Duffman won't be very pleased.

The Chicago Kwik-E-Mart is located at 6754 W. 63rd Street. Too far for me to drive in these days of rip-off gas prices. There will be life-size citizens of Springfield.

You can also win the opportunity of getting animated for a Simpsons episode.

For more info: www.7-11Simpsons.com
and www.seeyellow.com

MMMMMMMmmmmhhh, Slurpies!!! --RoadHomer

Just Good Clean Simpson Kicks on Route 66

Now's your opportunity to vote for where you think the REAL location of Homer Simpson's Springfield is. Springfields in 14 states, two along Route 66, have sent in short videos to tell why they should be the one to host the grand premier of the new Simpson's movie which will be released July 27th. They are in Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Oregon, Colorado, Nebraska, Louisiana, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

The actual location of the Simpsons' Springfield has never been revealed, and Fox Broadcasting has come up with a scheme to push the movie. You have the chance to view all 14 video submissions and vote for your favorite. I've seen Illinois, Missouri, and Tennessee, and would have to say no one is taking this seriously, but, rather, having a good time with it. Missouri and Tennessee are actually "trying" to make sure they "DON'T" get to host the premier.

Of the three, I liked Springfield, Tennessee's the best, but voted for my home state favorite, Illinois.

Voting continues until July 9th, so you'd better get out and vote soon and often, if you get to vote more than once. I will be alerting the Route 66 e-mail group and other road groups, even though I know some will vote for others.

You can view the videos and vote at


Don't Have a Cow, Man!! Do it for A. Lincoln. --RoadDog

Good News on Illinois Preservation Front

Always great to get some good news about old structures. Here in Illinois recently:

1. The June 28th Peru Reporter says that the red brick Westclox plant is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The 97 year-old structure at 5th and St. Louis streets have been the site of major time mechanics, military production, and where ground-breaking benefits for employees took place.

A picture accompanies the article, and it is an impressive building.

2. A group in Downer's Grove, led by Charley Smart has raised $53,000 through donations and ticket proceeds to a Gin Blossoms concert with the purpose of saving the 1846 Blodgett House which has connections to the Underground Railroad.

Unfortunately, the Downers Grove Park District estimates that the final cost for saving the structure will be close to $1 million, covering renovations, moving it, or buying the land it sits on.

Undeterred, Mr. Smart would like to see the house moved to park district property and turned into a museum and Underground Railroad resource center.

Hey, It's a Start. Keep up the Good Work Charley Smart and Blodgett House on the Move Group. --RoadDog

Thinkin' Lincoln: A New Book, Buy-Way and 9-11

1. Famous road author, and voice of the Sheriff on the movie "Cars", Michael Wallis, is on a tour to promote his new book "The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate". He will be at the Franklin Grove Library on July 28th.

I have seen an advance copy of it at the Lincoln Highway Association's Iowa-Illinois chapter meeting back in May at Franklin Grove. Pretty impressive book, and I'm hoping it will do for the LH what his "Mother Road" book did for Route 66.

You can get information and his itinerary at http://www.lincolnhighwaybook.com/

2. Four states along the former Lincoln Highway are taking part in one really long garage sale August 9-11.

They are West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. It is designed to give folks a chance to see the old road's culture and history while looking for that great deal on that special item.

3. I came across an article at the Fort Wayne Observer website about the temporary Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. It says it is close to the old Lincoln Highway and US-30. They have some impressive plans for a more permanent memorial.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Vermont Town Trying to Save Their 1854 Bank

This bank began operating before Lincoln was president and continued to do so until just last year when it closed, a victim of ATMs, online banking, and nearby branch banks. It anchored the small downtown of Jamaica, Vermont, population 946.

However, the townspeople were not going to take the chance of it being torn down. They tried to unsuccessfully to get another bank, and even to get the post office to move into the red brick building, but to no avail.

So. they bought it for $160,000 and are now looking at other uses. The town is a winter ski destination so I'm thinking it could serve as a visitors center.

It opened in 1854 as the West River Bank, and in 1865 became the West River National Bank (what, they even had banks buying banks back then). They even printed their own notes, which are still collected on eBay today. I went to eBay and found three notes for sale, ranging in price from $165 to $300. They must be quite valuable. It's hard to believe that at one time banks printed their own money. I thought that all ended with the US Constitution in 1787. One of the notes was from 1800, so evidently the bank operated in a different building before the 1854.

It was added the the State Register of Historic Places in 1987.

A Jamaica website had a picture of the downtown in 1906, and other than paving the road, and taking down the trees, the town, they say, still looks the same.

I always like to hear of a town preserving its heritage. A tip of the hat to the good folks in Jamaica, Vermont.

Yea Mon, in Jamaica We Have No Problem. --RoadDog

From June 10, 2007 Chicago Tribune "Town tries to save 1854 bank" by John Curran, AP

Monday, July 2, 2007

To ATM or Not to ATM- Is That a Question?

Just in case this got by you without your knowing it, June 27 was the big 40th anniversary of the first ATM. For those of you who are technologically backward like me, that stands for Automated Teller Machine. I must admit, I've seen 'em, but have never, ever used one.

A June 28th Chicago Tribune article from AP "Thanks to the ATM, 40 years of quick cash" by Raphael G. Satter.

It said that the day before, an estimated $28 billion was given out at those machines worldwide. You can find them almost everywhere these days. They are even in bars, and how long before they'll be in public restrooms. "Let's see, I'm sitting here, oh yes, I could use some dough...."

It said that one version was set up in New York back in 1939, but "the first recognizably modern one was placed outside the Barclays PLC branch in Enfield, a north London suburb (a place where it's hard to know where the city ends and the suburbs begin), on June 27, 1967."

Since I've never used one, you users will have to figure out if the money-getting process is similar today. The first "customers were given special single-use vouchers that they placed into a drawer. After a personal identification number was entered, a second drawer sprang open with a ten-pound note."

The man who generally is considered to be its inventor, John Shepherd-Barron, said he came up with the idea after getting locked out of his bank. Ah, Necessity, the Mother of Invention.

By the end of the 1960s, there were 781 world-wide, mostly in Britain. Today, there are about 1.5 million around the world, and almost 400,000 in the US. Almost 165 million withdrawals are made daily. Why, there's even one at McMurdo Station at the South Pole, in case any penguins need the money. Right, "Happy Feet"?

I wonder if this bit of technology is a good or bad thing?

How did YOU celebrate the birthday and how many times do you use one a week? --RoadDog

How Old is That Queen Mummy?

Last week, folks found out that we actually had the mummy of an Egyptian queen who died back in the 15th century BC, or, if we're being pc, BCE. Boy the first time I hit a BCE, that threw me for a loop. BCE, wha???

Strangely enough, the mummy was found back in 1903, archaeologists, or do you say archeologists- I've seen it both ways, just didn't know who it was. She was discovered (how actually do you discover someone while digging in their grave) in the Valley of the Kings, and has now been identified as Queen Hatshepsut, considered to be the most powerful-ever female pharoah, of which there weren't too many to begin with.

From the June 28th Chicago Tribune, "A tooth found in a relic box bearing Hatshepsut's insignia was only recently determined to be a tooth missing from the mummy, and DNA tests confirmed the match." It is "regarded as the most significant find since King Tutankhamen's tomb was uncovered in 1922."

I wonder who finally put two and two together. Was it the result of years of research, or an accidental find? "Hey, this tooth looks like the one missing in ...."

Pictures accompanied the article "Valley of the Queen" by AP.

The old gal sure looks pretty good considerin' how old she is. --RoadDog

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Save Those Old Record Stores

Our old mom-and-pop-type record stores are going the same way as the mom-and-pop motels. Each year, there are fewer and fewer of them. And, evidently, that is not just happening here.

I was cruising the net and came across an article about the closing of the Route 66 Record Store in Ulster, Northern Ireland. It was better known as Robert's as in the name of owner Robert Clarke, who knew his music, but MP3 downloading killed his business of 16 years.

"The trend in downloadable music has made the music disposable. In the past young people could remember their first album (mine was Herman's Hermits Greatest Hits) they bought, but, these days, when an MP3 gets too full, they discard some tracks to make room. It reduces music to Kentucky fried status, completely disposable," said Robert Clarke.

I miss the old record stores. Nothing much finer than listening to an album, or CD, as well as having questions answered by someone who really knew what they were talking about. Try to do that in a Big Box. Then there were the great conversations with the owners and other like-minded record fanatics. Great place to spend several hours, indeed!!

In the past year, I have lost Full Cyrkle Records in Crystal Lake, Il. and The Record Rack in Goldsboro, NC. There is still a great one in Dekalb, Il., called Record Revolution, right on the historic Lincoln Highway, but how much longer it will be there is in doubt. I'd best be motivating there before it is too late.

But, mind you, I AM part of the problem. I'm cheap and like to pay rock bottom prices for my CDs, so patronize the Big Boxes like Circuit City, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart. I especially like their debut prices, usually $9.99. My "excuse" is that there are no record stores near me. However, I'm just cheap.

However, I must admit, I have NEVER, EVER downladed anything, so maybe I'm not all bad.

Sure Missing Those Old Record Stores. --RoadDog

Dead Page: Louis Groebner, the Corvette Guy

LOUIS A. GROEBNER, JR. 1939-2007

"Ultimate Pro" with Corvettes- Highland Park service-shop owner was the sports car's devotee. Finding and restoring rare models was 'like a treasure hunt for him,' and his personal collection had dozens of gems.

Imagine getting to work your life's love into a full-time job. That's exactly what Louis Groebner did. And he did it with my life's desire, and that would be a Corvette. I've never owned one, but sure would like to. Maybe, one day.

From Chicago Tribune obituary by Trevor Jensen. June 21, 2007

His parents wanted him to be a mechanical engineer, but that ended right away when he fell in love with Corvettes. As a teenager, he restored a 1958 Vette in his parent's garage. He was hooked.

Mr. Groebner died June 15th. For more than 30 years he ran Vette Auto Sales in Chicago and Corvette City in Highland Park.

He was an expert at picking out the truly hard-to-find parts for Corvettes, but his real thrill came from hunting down rare Corvettes. "He would drive for hours, following leads about a hard to find model. 'It was like a treasure hunt for him.'" said his son Louis Groebner III.

Most of his Corvettes were only used for shows, but he had some that he would take out and put "through their paces on country roads in northern Illinois and Wisconsin, usually with his son or daughter holding on tightly beside him", his son said.

Of course, not much finer than cruising down an old two lane road than in a Corvette. Still wishing and a hoping.

Quite a life he led.