Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Some More Route 66 Stuff

As always, Route 66 gets its fair share of news.

1. JOLIET, ILLINOIS- This past Sunday, several Route 66 authors had a book signing at the Joliet Area Historical Museum.

Lenore and John Weiss were autographing their three books. They have had several printings of "Traveling the New Historic Route 66 of Illinois", a definite book you want to have when going through the state. They also have a short book called "As the Story Goes" which has all kinds on interesting Route 66 stories. Their newest is "Traveling the Historic Three" about Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, and the Dixie Highway. They have their own website and run bus tours and continue to play a huge part in the preservation of the road in Illinois.

Dave Clark, the Windy City Road Warrior, was also there signing his two new books: "In the Loop on US 66: Exploring the Mother Road in Chicagoland" and "Images of America: Route 66 in Illinois. Dave runs fantastic tours of Route 66 in downtown Chicago.

You can go to their websites at: for Lenore and John Weiss for Dave Clark

I have been fortunate to meet these folks on several occasions. It is always a pleasure.

2. Speaking of books, I hear that Dave Wickline is preparing a follow up to his excellent "Images of 66" photographic trip along the Mother Road. I strongly recommend that anyone planning a trip along the road make this one of the books to take along with them. Each picture is accompanied by very informative captions.

3. SELIGMAN, ARIZONA- The August 25th Prescott, Az, Daily Courier reports that you will be seeing lots of those old Burma Shave sign groups along Route 66 both east and west of Seligman. Of course, Seligman is a Route 66 treat in itself with the Delgadillos and Snow Cap Drive-In.

A twenty mile stretch of the original 66, just north of I-40 will have 12 five sign sets of Burma Shave signs put up on both sides of the road.

Passing cars
When you can't see
May get you a glimpse
Of eternity
Burma Shave

I always enjoy seeing these old signs. Takes me right back, you know.

4. TULSA, OKLAHOMA- The Oklahoma Centennial Fund has given Tulsa $400,000 for a theme park in the western part of the town. The park is called Red Fork Derrick and the money will be used to build an 80 foot tall oil derrick to serve as a centerpiece. They already has a 1942 steam engine that used to run through Tulsa.

Red Fork Derrick is one of 21 different tourist attractions along the 23 miles of Route 66 in town that Tulsa intends to promote.

I also see that a street beautification project is being planned for the Red Fork area.

Keep up the good work, Tulsa!!!

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Anniversary Trip-- Day 1 Continued Freeport to Stockton

Stopped at a cheese factory west of Freeport which used to have a great little shop to buy their products, but, unfortunately, it no longer is open. I forget the name of the place, but it sure would have helped if they had a sign up saying it was closed.

Somewhere along this two lane stretch (it becomes two lanes after Business 20 and Bypass 20 join together), is where I got a speeding ticket back in 1991. Phil and I had just rebuilt the engine of my 1967 Firebird convertible (well, Phil did most of it) and were taking it out for a road trip. There was a slow-moving truck in front of us, and I was speeding up to pass it. All I had to do was wait for another oncoming truck to get by, and I was gone.

Unfortunately, there was a cop car behind that truck and I didn't see it in time. Very sneaky. I sped up and passed the truck and, sure enough, in my rearview mirror, I saw the cop pull over and do a quick turn-around. I was nailed and knew it. I pulled over and got my ticket for going twenty miles over the speed limit. We now knew the old car could move, but at a cost. The cop had to ask what kind of a car it was.

We went through Stockton with its display of bears working in a woodshop outside a log cabin home builder's place. Looking at a brochure, I see that the Kraft Foods Company started in this town. We'll have to check the museum for the first Kraft cheese plant the next time through.

Still working on Day 1.

Just You and Me Down US-20. --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lincoln Highway PBS Show in the Making

First, we had the new book by the two Michaels: Williamson and Wallis, and now it appears we'll have a PBS documentary.

I came across a blog by a group of people from WQED TV (didn't say where) were taking a trip along the Lincoln gathering material for a new PBS show on the history and the charms along The Father Road. Of course, we LH fans know all its charms.

WQED producer Rick Sebak, who writes the blog, cameraman Bob Lubomski, and Jarrett Buba are on the trip.

The working title is "A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway."

I found it under Lincoln Highway Postcards

Very interesting pictures and commentary. Check it out.

When it Rains, It Pours. --RoadDog

Anniversary Trip- Day 1--Spring Grove to Dubuque

August 22nd- We left Spring Grove at noon after I had made one final Japanese beetle sweep. I really hate those eating machines.

Drove out to Woodstock, Illinois, to pick up Il-47. While taking the detour on Queen Anne Road, we came upon the first of two times we encountered water on the road today. The Midwest has really been getting hit by rain these past two weeks. There was about six inches of water on the road, so proceeded slowly through it.

Took Il-47 to Il-176 and went west to Marengo. About half way there, I noticed the pavement was wet, and about 400 yards later, we found a really big stretch of inundated roadway. We went slowly, but some eastbound motorists made wakes. I was a bit worried about the brakes, but they were ok.

Marengo has a great restaurant/tavern where you can play NTN called Cruisin' on State. It has lots of automobile memorabilia and delicious food.

Until today, I had only ever come across a road covered with water in White Pines State Park in Illinois.

In Marengo, we picked up US-20 and stayed on it for the rest of the day. US-20 is now called the US Grant Memorial Highway in Illinois. It bypasses both Belvedere and Rockford to the south and is four lane. It runs along with I-39 part of the way around Rockford.

We stopped at the Freeport/Stevenson Visitors Center east of Freeport. It is in a new building and a great place to cool off and stretch your legs while getting information about the area.

The four lane bypass around Freeport has always had signs up saying that it was a stretch where they tested new types of road surfacing. It was all torn up. Perhaps the new surfacing didn't work, or, they are putting in a new top. Or perhaps it will be part of the new US-20 fourlane to Galena.

Personally, I wouldn't mind the new bypass as from Freeport to Galena, US-20 is two lane with lots and lots of traffic and TRUCKS. If they built the bypass and kept the original road, that would be great.

About a half mile west of where Freeport Business US-20 and the current bypass join back together, there are two round barns on either side of the road. The one on the south side is in bad shape.

I should mention that one of Illinois' top NTN sites. Jumpin' Joe's, is located on Freeport's west end in a bowling alley.

I'll Continue with Day 1... --RoadDog

The Canadians are Coming. The Canadians are Coming.

Well, first it was the British, and now it's Canada's turn to invade the US. However, these people are dressed as tourists.

From a Northwest Herald article from July 18 titled "Canadian tourists pour into US" by David Sharp of the Associated Press.

Motels in Old Orchard Beach, near Portland, Maine, fly Canadian flags alongside the Stars and Stripes. Desk workers speak French, and fries are also offered Canadian style with vinegar, or gravy and cheese (sounds pretty close to a horseshoe to me).

Old Orchard has long been a destination for tourists from Quebec as it is an easy drive. However, this year, it is even more popular than ever.

The reason is the freefall of the US dollar's value on the international currency market. Right now the dollar is essentially on par with the Canadian dollar, making it more affordable than ever. Five years ago the "loonie", as Canadian dollar coins are called, were just 62 cents. (In case you're wondering, they get their name from the loon on the back of the coin.)

Plus, gas is a dollar more a gallon in Canada than in the US.

Canadians have always like the Coney Island feel of Old Orchard, which is known for its seven-mile stretch of sandy beach, pier, and carnival-like atmosphere.

We liked it so much, that Liz and I ended up staying an unplanned day at Old Orchard Beach several years ago on our coastal road trip along the coast from Boston to Lebec, Maine. We had a great time.

One other beach we've encountered large numbers of Quebec folk is Hollywood Beach between Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach in Florida during spring break. These people really know how to have a good time.

Bring us Your Loonies. --RoadDog

We don't EVEN want to discuss the relative merits of the Euro and Pound vs. the Dollar.

New Route 66 Newspaper--Route 66 Advertiser

OK, the first issue was April-May, but I "filed" it away and just came across it. I wrote my notes about Kim's Restaurant on it, so that's how I came across that as well.

All of a sudden, we have two Route 66 newspapers printed on a monthly-bi-monthly basis. The other is the Route 66 Pulse which started publication last year. Both are excellent sources of Route 66 info, and, best of all, both are FREE!! I really like free stuff.

The Advertiser covers all 8 states and along with ads for motels, restaurants, "tourist traps", and businesses, it also has articles, often about those ads.

If you're like me, you always prefer to stay in mom and pop motels, but you just never know what you're going to get. After reading about the Van Duyne Motel in Wilmington, Il, "Best Motel by a Dam Site" (it is by a dam on the Kankakee River), I would have no qualms about staying there.

Same goes for Vernelle's Motel (1936)in Newburg, Mo, just west of Rolla. I have always felt sorry for this place as it was bypassed and cut off by I-44 which was bad, but even worse now that I-44 runs along a new alignment. I'll stay here the next time through after reading editor Jim Michilac's article. Vernelle's is just a few hundred yards from the fast-deteriorating ruins of John's Modern Cabins built in 1935.

So, next time you're cruising the "Mother Road", pick up a copy.

Always Glad to See Another Great Route 66 Publication. --RoadDog

A Real "Hon" of a Place to Eat in Pontiac, Illinois

Most people cruising Route 66 in Illinois know about the famous Old Log Cabin Inn that was built in 1926. And, if I have seen it once, I've seen it as much as I've seen Japanese beetles on my bushes and trees right now, it was raised and turned around 180 degrees when the new 66 bypass was built in the 1950s. This place is truly a Route 66 legend and a place I've eaten at many times.

However, this last April, I was in Pontiac on a Sunday morning after having manned a Lincoln Highway booth at the Model A Club convention in Joliet, Illinois, the previous day. I was going to attend the Route 66 Association of Illinois' spring meeting. I had not signed up for the lunch so figured I'd just mosey on over to the Old Log Cabin. It was closed on Sundays.

So, I drove around town and found a likely candidate called Kim's about two blocks away from the wonderful old county courthouse in the square. I knew right away that this was a unique place when I saw flags, mostly state, lining the walls. There were ones from New Mexico, California, Illinois, and the Conch Republic and others.

The waitress walked up and said, "What'll it be, hon?" So it was to be that kind of a place; an old mom and pop restaurant. None of that, ""Hi, my name is Kevin, and I'll be your server today." I asked for a menu and why were all the flags on the walls? She didn't know.

I ordered a combo omelet for $5.95, which was so huge it had to be folded three times to fit on the plate. Besides three eggs, it had onions, green peppers, ham, sausage, cheese, mushrooms, and tomatoes. It came with some heavily buttered hashbrowns and toast. Coffee was a whopping 99 cents.

Kim's has been there 4 and a half years and it had been a restaurant before that as well.

I highly recommend it.

Just Say the "Dawg" Sent Ya. --RoadDog

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mugwump Talks Roadside Distractions

A writer in the Traveling Stories Magazine calling himself Mugwump wrote about something dear to my heart. And that would be the so-called "tourist trap" both of yore and as they exist today. Give me a stop at the world's largest ball of twine, picnic basket, or hare,or at Mule Trading Post or Totem Pole Trading Post, and I am just a happy lad.

Mugwump says that also often they are fee free and, he has an "affection" for them. They are Americana and stubbornly refuse to be digitalized, lazerized, or any other such -ized that may signal their capitulation to 21st century sensibility. They are the last vestiges of the traveling carnivals and freak shows that are the stuff of childhood wonder and dreams- if not nightmares."

Well put Mugwump!! I couldn't have said it better.

There are still new "tourist traps" being made. The new Pops store and restaurant in Arcadia, Oklahoma, right on good old Route 66, comes to mind. This is a throwback to the old days.

Also, any trip on Route 66 in Illinois needs to go by Rich Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton. The first time through there, we got lost and stopped at a convenience store and asked for directions. I was a bit confused when I was told to look for the camels. What would camels be doing in Illinois? Oh, Campbell Express' "Snortin' Norton Humpin' to Please" trucks. And did I mention rabbits, both the real ones and Volkswagens.

Lovin' Those Old "Tourist Traps." --RoadDog

What Has 540 Calories, 28 Grams of Fat, Sells 550 Million a Year, and Is Celebrating It's 40th Birthday?

McDonald's triple-decker Big Mac, that's what. Yes, that burger that helped breed America's Super-Size Culture, is turning the big 4-0. Of course, we all know that it was a knock-off of Big Boy's pride and joy.

I am not a real big fan of it. It's ok, but I REALLY like the 99 cent double cheeseburger a whole lot better. I also like the Johnsonville brats, the steak, egg and cheese bagel, and MOST of ALL, I Like the McRib!!!!!

Right now, I bet you're trying to remember the words to that jingle. Don't worry, I'll give them to you at the end of the story. Just keep working on your McD rap.

The Big Mac was first introduced to us by Jim Delligath, a McDonald's franchise owner in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. A year later, it was at McDonald's all across the US. I didn't catch an exact date for the introduction.

Of course, the whole McDonald's concept was born in a Route 66 city, San Bernardino where the McDonald brothers operated several hamburger stands. They bought a bunch of five-shake mixers from Ray Kroc who went there to see what was going on. He was impressed. He bought a franchise and opened the first McDonald's as we know it today on US Highway 12 in Des Plaines, Illinois, in 1955. The rest is history. Hey, we could have been having Big Krocs at the local Kroc's.

The McDonald's I go to the most is in Fox Lake, Illinois. A favorite thing for me to do is boat over to it, get my breakfast, and eat it out on the water, read the Tribune, and listen to tunes. Oh yes, and FEED the ducks. You must feed the ducks. How about boating over to a McDonald's. Not many people can say they've done that.

Hey, Make that Double Cheeseburger a Big Mac. When Are the McRibs Coming Back? --RoadDog

How's that Jingle Coming?

"Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce,cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun."

An Anniversary Roadtrip

To celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary, Liz and I hit the road for five days starting this past Wednesday. We went to Dubuque, Iowa, Galena, Rochelle, DeKalb, and Rockford in Illinois, and Beloit in Wisconsin.

We went on Illinois highways 47, 176, US-20, Stagecoach Road, Illinois highways 73, 72, 251 (the old US-51), 38 (Lincoln Highway), Anne Glidden Road, US-51, Wisconsin highways 81 and 67, some back roads along the Illinois-Wisconsin border when we got lost, US-12, some Wisconsin county roads, and Wilmot Road.

Along the way, we had to ford roads, drive through blinding rain, went to several bars including one with lots of animal heads, stayed at a mom and pop motel, played NTN at five new places and three old ones, ate at a 1935 steakhouse in a town that history forgot, stayed at a new motel that replaced the 1930s one we stayed at on our honeymoon, saw lots of algae in the Mississippi, enjoyed watching turtles and river otters at an aquarium, and went to Van's.

We also partied with a 60s band at a Lincoln Highway festival in Rochelle, saw the Beatles and ate corn at a festival in rain-drenched Dekalb, saw a movie in an Egyptian art deco 1928 theater, would have paid our respects to Gus (or do you call him William) Goose's marker at the flooded lagoon, saw some mighty young looking college students, received a blessing from the monsignor at the church we were married in, went to a bona fide surviving mom and pop type record store, ate at a Northwoods Cafe in Rockford, and went to a world-famous Japanese garden.

We essentially did things backwards from that date 34 years ago. We were married and had the reception in DeKalb and then, that night, drove out to Galena for the honeymoon.

All-in-all, it was a pretty good little drive of just over 500 miles.

Bringing Back the Memories and Making Some New Ones. --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

McDuffie's Story- The Sailor in the Photo

Glenn McDuffie has given his story of that day in Times Square.

He said that he was 18 and changing trains on his way to see his girlfriend in Brooklyn when he was told that Japan had surrendered and that the war was over. He also realized that his brother W.D. would be released from a Japanese prison camp and would soon be on his way home.

"I was so happy. I ran out in the street. And then I saw the nurse. She saw me hollering and with a big smile on my face...I just went right to her and kissed her."

"We never spoke a word. Afterward, I just went to the subway across the street and went to Brooklyn."

He also had an explanation for his left and hand and wrist being twisted around the nurse's face. He says that he realized someone was taking their picture and wanted her face to be seen.

The picture appeared in Life Magazine. Since the photographer is now dead, the magazine still considers the identities as being unknown.

These are the kinds of stories that should be used in school history classes. They are bound to get student interest.

This is a Great Story. --RoadDog

When a Kiss Just Ain't a Kiss

You know the picture. It's one of the most famous ones to come out of WWII, the end of it to be exact. The photographer caught a sailor doing liplock on a nurse in Times Square, to the amusement of others standing in the vicinity. This sums up VJ Day, Victory Over Japan.

Life was to go on after this horrible interruption. The Baby Boomer generation was just a gleam in their parents' eyes.

For years, the sailor's identity has been unknown and more than a few claimed to be the kisser. Now, Houston forensic artist Lois Gibson, after careful analysis of the photograph, has determined him to be Glenn McDuffie, who has for years claimed to be said sailor.

The Chicago Tribune had an editorial on August 7th "The kiss of the unknown sailor"

Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt took it. This was a random pairing of two presumed strangers caught up in the giddy exhilaration and reacting the way people do in such situations, seeking close human contact. We can imagine before Eisentaedt snapped the shutter that the sailor reached for the nurse. She didn't resist. He bent her back, cradled her head and went in for the kiss. Click. History was made."

"Who were they? Nobody will ever know for sure. Eisentaedt never identified them, and he died a dozen years ago."

Apparently, there was a lot of kissing going on in Times Square that day, August 14, 1945.

The woman was Edith Shain, who revealed her secret in 1960. Over 20 men have claimed to be the sailor. Glenn McDuffie is 80 years old and a North Carolina native.

"Call it CSI: The Kiss. But we'd just as soon let it remain a mystery for the ages. The sailor. The nurse. The moment."

"They were--they are--every man and every woman who has ever rejoiced as darkness lifted and peace was at hand."

Thus the Tribune waxes poetically.

Personally, I like to think that this photo wasn't posed and that it was spur of the moment. Also, I hope we never know for sure their identities.

I think it would be something if someone were to cast a sculpture of the kiss and put it in Times Square as near to the actual spot as possible. That would be a fitting monument to WWII as we continue to lose the members of the Greatest Generation.

Come Here, My Darling. --RoadDog

Tank of the Year in Rosemont, Illinois

This just in, the unique Rosemont, Il, water tower has received the coveted "Tank of the Year" award from Tnemec Corp. of Kansas City. It is a painting and coating company. With a name like Rosemont, it is no surprise that it is a giant rose. I've seen it and that is one impressive paint job.

The Rosemont water tower is 185 feet tall, holds 500,000 gallons, and was built in 1982.

It was in competition with over 100 water towers around the US. Some of the Illinois ones were Calumet Citys twin towers with Smiley Faces on them-uggh!, Darien, Illinois' lighthouse, and Schaumburg's baseball (for its minor league team).

Others I'd like to nominate:

Bourbon, Missouri- viewable from I-44 and the old Route 66. It just has the town name on it, but what a thought.

Hebron, Illinois- painted as a basketball in honor of their 1951 high school state championship basketball team.

Atlanta, Illinois- giant Smiley Face- I nominate this for the ugliest tank. I hate Smiley Faces.

Some city on US-54 that has side-by-side towers. One has the word hot painted on it. Guess what the other one has?

Goldsboro, North Carolina- I'd nominate this one for the way it's decorated for Christmas with lights that make it look like a giant crown.

Tanks a Lot. --RoadDog

Goodbye Tiger Stadium

Now, I'm not much of a Detroit Tigers fan like my high school buddy Neil, but I hate to see the old ball fields being torn down. Looks like it is about that time for Tiger Stadium which was built in 1912.

In August, the city council, by a 5-4 vote gave the Detroit Economic Development Corp. the authority to demolish the park. This came shortly after Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell gave an impassioned plea to save it. Harwell proposed a scaled-down version of the park seating 8,000-10,000 which could be used for high school sports. Also, it could be used for a museum on Detroit's rich musical heritage

"Tiger stadium has meant a lot to generations. " Harwell continued, " If we cant [save part of it], we'll have to keep Tiger Stadium in our memory, our mind and out heart and cherish it that way."

It has sat empty since owner Mike Ilitch moved the ballclub to Comercia Park in 2000.

From August 5th Chicago Tribune "Final out for Tiger Stadium" by Corey Williams, AP.


The stadium has been declared a state of Michigan Historic Site in 1976 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. It is scheduled for demolition in 2008.

It is also nicknamed "The Corner" for its location at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Boulevard.

It replaced Bennett Park at the site, the first home of the Tigers. Grand opening was on April 20, 1912, the same day Boston's Fenway Park opened.

From 1938 to 1974, the Detroit Lions played their home games there until they moved to the Pontiac Silverdome. It hosted the World Series in 1968, 1984, and 2006.

Since the Tigers left, Detroit has spent $4 million maintaining it, a big reason for its demolition.

A lot of New York Yankee history took place there. This is where, on July 13, 1934, Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run. On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig voluntarily sat himself down to bring his 2,130 consecutive game streak to an end. With his advancing disease,this proved to be his last-ever game.

I hate it when they tear an old ballfield down like Comiskey Park. Ugly though it was, it had a lot of history.   I didn't care so much when Three Rivers in Pittsburgh and Busch Stadium in St. Louis were torn down. They had not been around long enough to get the history of a Comiskey or Tiger Stadium.

Lions and Tigers and URBAN RENEWAL, Oh My!--RoadDog

Local Bar in Bon Jovi Video for "Lost Highway"

Folks figured Jon Bon Jovi and his band might make an appearance at the Iron Bull Saloon in Lakemoor, Illinois, on Wednesday August 1st. Some went there, but came away disappointed. The band pulled a no-show. Lakemoor is about seven miles from our place in Spring Grove, and about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.

As it turned out, all they needed were exterior shots for the video for the song "Lost Highway" off their newly released album. The song is about a couple driving on a highway, who, when they hit a traffic jam, get off on a small country road and it leads them to a bar with a big party going on inside it. They go in and have a great time.

Like Michael Wallis likes to say, "Life begins at the off-ramp." They find out it is so. Is there a moral in this story somewhere? We "roadfolk" already know that.

Production manager Joe Tabbush, said the inside of the bar wasn't conducive to the party scene. They used Fitzgerald's in Berwyn for the interior shots. Fitzgerald's is a noted venue for live music in the Chicagoland area. And Berwyn, of course, is located along the famous Route 66, outside of Chicago.

They picked the Iron Bull also for the utility road next to it. Tabbush said, "We liked the roads around here. They're very desolate and open."

I look forward to seeing the video and hearing the song. I'm not sure I want to fork over the $15 for a CD if that's the only song I like on it. But, I kind of think I'll like "Lost Highway."

Give Me Those Old Two Lane Roads, Right, Bon Jovi. --RoadDog

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fans of the "Spindle" Rally

There is a grassroots effort and three websites devoted to saving that object of division in Berwyn, Illinois, called the "Spindle."

They're even selling "Save the Spindle" teeshirts. So far, 40 have been sold at $20 a pop, of which those wanting to save it get a buck. Interestingly enough, Walgreens refuses to make a donation. It is being torn down or moved because Walgreen's is going to build there.

There are plans of possibly refurbishing it, replacing some of the cars, or moving it 300 feet west.

Maggie Rogaisis is the co founder of Friends of the Spindle. If you're wondering what it looks like, go to the site. I put this structure right up with Route 66's famed Cadillac Ranch, only on a vertical scenario.

Back in July, some 1200 bicyclists pedaled there in solidarity.

The fifty foot structure will be down in less than 60 days, so if you want to see it, you'd best get a move on.

Let's Save that Spindle. --RoadDog

Choo Choos Coming Back to Goldsboro, NC

Looks like they are going to use the grand old train depot in Goldsboro, NC, again, after thirty years of no rail service. This is one really beautiful old, 100 years, building that's been used for lumber storage of late.

The state is planning on revitalizing it as a hub for not only trains, but buses and taxis as well. This is where I was born and a lot of my relatives and friends still live. I can tell you that they definitely need some sort of a regular service to Raleigh-Durham Airport. That would sure make going home a lot easier.

You can see pictures of this magnificent structure at

Let's Get it Done. --RoadDog

No More Guber Burgers!!!!!

Due to the widening of US-50 and US-65, the venerable Wheel In Drive Inn in Sedalia, Mo, will be closing its doors September 3rd. They lost a lot of their parking lot.

They're famous for their Guber (that's the way they spell it) burgers which they've been serving since the 1940s. It is a high-quality steak burger and comes with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and melted peanut butter. Looks like I'll never get a chance to have one. I didn't get a Pighip sandwich either. I hate when I miss out on something good.

I saw a picture of it at and it has interesting architecture. It sure would be great if they could find a way to move it.

No Gubers for ME!!!   Sigh.  --RoadDog

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Beer Can at the Twin Towers

Yesterday, I got to meet John Preston at a friend's Ribfest out by the Chain of Lakes here in northeast Illinois.

He is visiting and a sergeant in the NYPD. He said that he had gone out to the World Trade Center site in the days after 9-11 and had helped in the cleanup. He doesn't suffer from any of the maladies that others have incurred from working at the site in the aftermath. But he figures it is because he didn't work there that long. The ones who spent months there are the ones with problems.

They were issued cloth masks at first, and later regular breathing gear, but they stopped wearing them because it got too hot.

He distinctly remembers how beautiful the sky was on 9-11. He had just been at the Towers the day before for a meeting, and it had really stormed on the way out.

He said that every so often, the sirens would go off when there was a fear of a neighboring building collapsing. There wasn't much left of anything in the rubble other than pieces and parts, and that so much had been very compacted.

But one story was of particular interest. I had just finished talking about the Old Style can I found in Fox Lake with the pull tab top, he said that he had found a Rheingold beer can in perfect shape among all that rubble. That surprised him. But even more so, he was surprised at the fact that it was made of steel and had two church key can opener holes at the top. This puzzled him. Why would there be a beer can from the 60s or early 70s at the site? Perhaps someone had a beer can collection in one of the offices.

He thought about taking it, but didn't. But he still wondered about it until he saw a History Channel show on the construction of the Trade Center towers. It said that the workers building it, would, after lunch everyday, would put their beer cans and newspapers into the hollows of the girders. Mystery solved. But even then, how that can survived intact would still be a wonder. I don't think I'd like to be drinking beer and working that high up in the air.

John said that he was based in Brooklyn the day of the attack, and was outside when he heard popping sounds and only found out it was the floors collapsing when he saw it on TV.

This Is One Interesting Story. --RoadDog

Cruisin' Lincoln

Some more Lincoln Highway information.

1. DUBLIN, CA- the Dublin Library has posted a picture of the city about 1940 showing the original Lincoln Highway-50 merging with the new Lincoln Highway-50, outside of town. They are working on scanning and digitalizing old photographs in a joint project with the Dublin Heritage Center. Should be a very interesting project to view when they're finished. Hopefully, there will be more Lincoln Highway pictures.

2. ELY, NEVADA- There is a Lincoln Highway display at the White Pine Public Museum.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Old Lincoln Highway Bricks Found

On August 9th, WDTN of Dayton, Ohio reported that crews doing roadwork in Canton had uncovered a large section of bricks that were a part of the original Lincoln Highway, America's first highway, but now mainly covered by US-30.

They are digging up part of Tuscarawas Street. These bricks replaced were put down in 1914, replacing ones that had been laid earlier.

Surprisingly, to me, these bricks are going to be sent to the Great Platte River Road Archway over I-80 in Kearney, Nebraska, about the half-way point of the old Lincoln Highway. There, they'll be cobbled together to form a 16 foot wide, 30 foot long stretch of the road.

The museum documents the history of transportation in the US from wagon trails to the present, with a big emphasis on the Lincoln Highway, which is located a few miles away. They are very happy and were hoping to find a brick company to make the bricks, or would have been satisfied with just a few original ones.

There is some question as to whether the bricks will be donated or loaned. Either way, Canton says it will not pay the cost to ship them.

At one time, Canton was called the brick-making capital of the world. Plus, the museum has a 130 foot-long metal bridge made by the Canton Bridge Company.

Most of the information from August 8th by Ed Balint.

Here's hoping that they find a way to get those bricks to Kearney.

To Brick or Not to Brick? --RoadDog

Dead Page: Frank Portillo, Father of Brown's Chicken and Portill's in Chicagoland


Father of Successful restaurateurs- Worked as laborer and salesman before raising sons who run Portillo and Brown's Chicken

From July 20th Chicago Tribune. Obituary by Trevor Jensen

Frank Portillo, Sr. died July 17th.

He had a childhood in El Paso, Tx, and Dawson, NM, where his mother ran a boarding house for miners. He followed his older brother Julian to Chicago in the mid-1920s. His first job involved hanging horsehides at a Goose Island tannery where he met his future wife, Beulah.

After marriage, he held a succession of jobs, none of which earned much money for the family. They were among the first residents in the Near North Side of Chicago public housing project that became Cabrini-Green. They later moved to Bridgeport.

His son, Frank Portillo, Jr. started the large Chicagoland restaurant chain called Brown's Chicken & Pasta, and his father owned two of the franchises before retiring in 1970. There are now 46 stores in the Chicagoland area. His brother Richard started the Portillo Restaurant Group in 1963 which today has 33 Portillo's Hot Dogs, 10 Barnelli's and several other establishments. Both men are very successful.

"Both of his sons said that growing up poor helped to make them successful businessmen."

"I think the reason my brother and I got into [the restaurant business] was we grew up in the projects and we didn't want that kind of life,: Frank Portillo, Jr. said.

Mr. Portillo retired to Florida until the mid 90s when he returned to the Chicago area. His wife died seven years ago after 71 years of marriage.

Despite all the hard times, he never let it get him down, and according to son Richard, he had "the art of relaxation down pat." He spent many hours fishing and whittled family keepsakes.

I will write about his sons' businesses in the future.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Age and Use Overtaking to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center

Age has become a big problem for those who survived the Pearl harbor attack back in 1941. Now, age and too much usage has become a problem at the visitor center, through which an annual 1.6 million people going out to the USS Arizona Memorial have to pass. The center was built on landfill that was once part of the harbor. That, and all those people (the place was built to handle 750,000 and that was exceeded in its first year of operation, 1980) have caused major problems.

Cracks are forming on the foundation pillars and it has settled 30 over the years.

However, a new $52 million museum is already planned, with groundbreaking scheduled for this Dec. 7th, the 66th anniversary of the attack. Fundraisers have gotten only a little more than half of the needed funds. Efforts at raising the rest is following a two-pronged attack: "trying to revive a WWII spirit of rallying around a common cause while stirring national emotion and nostalgia for a rapidly dying generation."

One school in Florida raised $13,000 in a Pennies for Pearl Harbor effort.

Every year, there are fewer and fewer Pearl Harbor survivors. Estimates put the number at around 5,000 now. These survivors are taking the effort to the people and speaking to raise more money.

I remember going to Pearl Harbor several years ago, when my mom was nice enough to take the family. No trip to Hawaii would be complete without a trip here. The lines were huge and winding way out from the visitors center, even an hour before it opened. Then, the center was very crowded, despite great efforts to control the crowd.

This is one of the three battles I find to be most interesting. The other two are the Alamo and Fort Fisher.

Information about donating can be found at .

This would also be a great project for schools. You can get information for this at the same site.

A Very Worthy Project.  --RoadDog

Quad-Cities and Iowa to Go After Chicagoans

What with the high gas prices and people staying closer to home, the Quad-Cities and the state of Iowa have decided to make a pitch to Chicagoans next spring to get them to come visit.

This is a favorite place for us to visit with lots to see and do, and very importantly, reasonably priced.

The Quad-Cities straddle the Mississippi River between the states of Iowa and Illinois. It consists of Rock Island and Moline in Illinois, and Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa. It is about a 200 mile drive for us here in the northwest corner of Chicagoland.

The July 30th Quad-City Times had an editorial called "Q-C takes lead-off role in Iowa tourism campaign." In said that Chicagoans would be seeing commercials for Iowa and the area next spring. Film crews had been in town filming the Bix Fest and other events.

The Q-C and five other Iowa communities each kicked in $20,000 for the effort.

In the past, the Q-C has done a little advertising in Chicago, but it was too expensive to really push. But now, with the added money from the other towns, a better saturation will occur.

We usually take the two lane roads to the Q-C, where we really enjoy the District in Rock Island and the waterfront of Davenport. I-88 is an easy shot all the way.

We've Got a Lot of Great Stuff Right here in the Midwest. --RoadDog

Monday, August 13, 2007

Judy Barr-Topinka Not Much of a Fan of Berwyn's "Spindle"

Former Illinois treasurer and candidate for governor in the last election, is not much of a fan of the "Spindle", the soon-to-be removed from its site in Berwyn, Illinois, structure. Berwyn is a close-in suburb of Chicago.

In an article in a paper from August 3rd, she writes that "Berwyn is a west suburbantown of bungalows and Victorian homes. Yet, it is better known as the home of the "Spindle."

This structure consists of seven cars impaled upon a spike and its forthcoming demise has sparked a lot of discussion in Berwyn as to whether it should be saved and moved to a new site or just destroyed. It is a big tourist attraction for people driving on Route 66.

She continues, "Walgreens wants to put in a drug store on the spot, giving the cars their just reward...a spot in the auto graveyard where they can disintegrate out of public view."

"The "Spindle" was a pipe dream of a gentleman who felt he could impose his taste in art on others. All he did was to trivialize a great community like Berwyn. Berwyn deserves better."

I have never seen it, but definitely would like to, but with gas prices still too high, I'm not going to drive there just for that. I'm hoping, they keep it.

I have info on this at my July 15th post "Time's About Up for Berwyn's Spindle."

You can get more information about the spindle at .

Also, there are pictures at Car Kabob.

Save the "Spindle."     BER-WYNNN As Svenghoulie Would Say.  --RoadDog

Here's a Guy Who Isn't So Impressed with Route 66

I came across an article in the Motorcycle Cruiser site by Art Friedman, who is not one of those to wax-poetic about all that Route 66 has to offer. He calls himself a "Route 66 Baby" after having spent a lot of time shuttling back and forth on it between Chicago and Santa Fe, and later Los Angeles after his parents divorced.

"To me it was a series of speed traps, tourist traps, fly traps, greasy spoons, and feeling ready-to-heave-nauseous in the back of a series of family wagons crawling across a mostly boring, flat landscape. When the arrival of interstate highways turned Route 66 into a two-day trip (Santa Fe to Chicago) and disconnected the drive from the little towns that did everything they could to divert you to spend money, I viewed the change as a great leap forward."

Most of his article was about all the great attributes of cruising California's US-395 which runs north and south through the Pacific Coast states. He was first introduced to it in the early 1950s. His account and accompanying pictures make me want to take that drive the next time I'm out that way. Art said you could do a big part of it in 3-4 days.

I did e-mail him and suggest that he give old Route 66 another chance. I'm kinda fond of it.

Not Everyone Likes Route 66. --RoadDog

Route 66 Cruising: Pontiac, Galena, California and Oklahoma

Items concerning Route 66.

1. PONTIAC, ILLINOIS- The 4th annual Route 66 Antique Tractor Roadshow took place this past weekend. The tractors arrived at 4-H Park on Friday. Then Saturday, they took historic 66 and another road north to Dwight, stopping at Odell's restored 1932 Standard station.

On their return to Pontiac, they parked downtown and took part in Pontiac's Heritage Days celebration.

On Sunday they went to Threshermen's Park.

These I got from Ron Warnick's Route 66 News site, the place you want to go for up-to-date news of the Mother Road.

2. GALENA, KANSAS- Somebody shot Tow Mater!!!! The 1951 International boom truck that was the inspiration for the popular Mater from the movie "Cars" was shot four times in the windshield. Now who would do something like that? What would Mater say?  Where's Frank when you need him?

3. SOUTH PASADENA, CALIFORNIA- The Rialto Theater's last day of operation will be August 19th with a showing of the Simpsons movie. The structure, built in 1925, has been losing money and is in need of restoration, at least $1 million to start with and perhaps more. There is interest, however, in saving it, and making it a lynchpin for the redevelopment of the area, so there is hope.

Those grand old movie theaters deserve to be saved. I know, around me, the Woodstock, Il, Opera House, and Crystal Lake's Raue Theater have sparked growth in their respective towns. Then there is the beautiful Rialto Square Theater in Joliet, Illinois, that continues to be a delight.

4. ARCADIA, OKLAHOMA- Lose One, Win One. - A very unique B & B and cafe called HILLBILLIES shut down August 2nd due to the owners wanting to retire. One building was a 1920s Phillip's 66 station and the cabins were an old motor court. I never got a chance to visit it, but, it was a very interesting looking place. Hopefully someone will continue with it.

POP'S CONVENIENCE STORE and RESTAURANT opened in Arcadia August 7th. Route 66 was always a changing road, from both businesses and the actual alignment. We now have a new place worth a stop. It is described as refined kitsch with its giant bottle and overhang outside. Definitely worth a stop the next time you're through.

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sore Feet, Too Much Food, Too Many Bands, Too Much to See

A Day at the Wisconsin State Fair- August 9th.

It was Illinois Day. Show your license, pay $8 admission and get one free. We also saved the $9 parking charge by finding a spot on the street about 2 blocks east of the fairgrounds.

Steady drizzle most of the morning, but that didn't dampen our spirits. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to keep too many people away so had to fight crowds the whole day, but only one long line.

Met up with Rick and Chris at the Old Style Heartland Pavilion, as we always do. We tend to get separated so meet on the hour. However, we now all have joined the CELL Revolution so Old Style not as necessary.

The first thing I did was get one of the famous Wisconsin State Fair cream puffs, which were still $3, and worth every sweet bit. I just couldn't go to the fair and not have a cream puff. However, one is my limit as they are VERY filling. I once saw someone eat three of them. Perhaps we should make this the newest stop in competitive eating.

The Old Style Heartland Pavilion has food from the Major Goolsby restaurant. Definitely one of the largest burgers at the fair. This year, they also had a $1 brat shot, so had to try that. It came in a small cup and smothered in a special sauerkraut, some of the best I've ever had. Later, I had their sweet potato chips. The way I look at it, anything made with sweet potatoes is mighty good eating.

Across the street, Slim McGinn's Irish Pub had a bagpiper. Enjoyed that. Sure beat the deejay at Old Style who was practically asleep.


Without a doubt, my favorite place to go at the fair. As you would conclude from the name, this place features all things made in the great state of Wisconsin. I literally graze my way through here. They have reasonable prices and most offer small samplers.

I started with a $1.25 ostrich snack, essentially a Slim Jim. Then it was a $2 blackberry sundae, a large $3 brat slathered down with sauerkraut. Definitely have to try the cranberry offerings, and a cherry pie. A fairly new and, judging by the line, popular spot is the one with Wisconsin baked potatoes which you can load to your satisfaction.


Outside, and closer to the midway is another must-stop for me to get my milk-fix, US Senator Herb Kohl's Superb Milk House. This place always has a line of people waiting to get the 25 cent flavored milk. They have finally gotten to the banking wait lines to prevent cutting, which happens a lot here. Even then, I saw one lady in her sixties and appearing healthy hop a line and move up. Nice lady.

A word here on lines. I avoid lines as much as possible. I don't like to wait. There are enough times in my life where I HAVE to wait so if I have any choice, I choose not to wait. So, if I elect to stand in a line, it's gotta be something special.

The line at Herb's was long, but as I was making my way to the end, more and more people were beating me to it. At least twenty people got into the line before I could get to the end. It went fast, though, and within five minutes, I was trying to balance small cups of mocha, chocolate, and strawberry milk. To spill a drop was not an option.

We took a seat at a picnic table, something the fair should really make more of an investment in. There just aren't many places to sit unless you're at a restaurant of bar, and then they want you to buy something. We were right across from a state fair staple sideshow featuring 40 Live Reptiles on Display. Mighty good milk.


Next went to the huge fairly new Wisconsin Exposition Center while walking past the booths offering items for sale under the grandstands. A plaque outside the Exposition Center said that the fairgrounds at one time was Camp Harvey, a Spanish-American War training camp. The Wisconsin National Guard was established in 1879 to improve the existing militia system. A total of 5,469 men trained here and were organized into four regiments. Two of them saw action in Puerto Rico.

The commercial building was really packed with people. You had to pay as much attention to the people as the booths. It was like being a human pin ball. One guy in a wheel chair almost ran me down. We got out of there about three quarters of the way through.


One thing we always enjoy doing is checking out the bands. Usually, we just listen to one or two songs and then move on, but we have some favorites where we'll sit for a set. One of them was Hat Trick, playing at Miller Lite Park. This is a band that is stage-challenged. Other than the drummer, you never know where they'll be. What stage? We don't need no stinkin' stage. Great band and a lot of fun.

We also saw a set by the Rhythm Kings at Bob-A-Linda's. They play a lot during the summer at Captain's Quarters on the Chain of Lakes. Michael Drake and the No Tan Lines Band had the house rocking at the Tropics at the Fair.

Polka Mania was playing at Cracovia, Andrea & the Mods at Saz's Ribs, and Coventry Jones was playing Irish music at Slim MgGinn's.


Unfortunately, prices at the fair have been on the rise the last several years. A beer is generally going to set you back $5 to $6. If you try to get around it and have pop, that is usually in the $3 to $4 range. Most sandwiches are $4 to $7.

My Feets Have Just about Recovered. --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Summer Road Trip

This past Sunday, Bob Stroud did a Rock and Roll Roots Show on that all-American Summer Road Trip. I like nothing better than taking several road trips every summer, but haven't gotten around to many this year because of Big Oil's money grab.

However, these tunes will definitely get you in the mood for a trip. Stroud's show is on WDRV, Chicago's Drive at 96.9 and 97.1 FM. The show also streams live.

Here is a list of the "Road" songs he played. There were about ten others that he had that were for birthdays this coming week, so I didn't include them. Also, after some, you will see Stroud's comment. Mine will be in parentheses.

1 Country Road- James Taylor
2. (Take Me Home)- Country Roads- John Denver- (My song when I was in the Marines. Get me out of here. Well, at least the first three weeks. After that, I got used to it.)
3. Main Street- Bob Seger- with the Silver Bullet Band

4. Toulouse Street- Doobie Brothers- 1972
5. Thunder Road- Bruce Springsteen
6. Tobacco Road- Nashville Teens (Were they talking about that Carolina road between UNC and Duke?)

7. Positively Fourth Street- Bob Dylan- You better sit back and take the street like a man- (You've got s lot of nerve to say you're my friend. When I was down, you just stood there grinning.")
8. Penny Lane- Beatles (I just read that Penny Lane, the actual street in the song, is not capitalizing on it.)
9. Blue Jay Way- Beatles- George Harrison's song- (What were they trippin' on when they wrote and did this song?)

10. Free Ride- Edgar Winter- produced by Rick Derringer- (Always reminds me of the ride out to Galena for our honeymoon. Don't start off on the honeymoon on a 70 mile drive after the reception.)
11. Funky Broadway- Wilson Pickett- the Wicked Pickett- my 2nd favorite soul singer.)
12. Wall Street Shuffle- 10CC- the last two because they were in New York City

13. Ventura Highway- America
14. Cobblestone Road- Cryan' Shames- Chicago band- from "Scratch in the Sky" album- they still do it in concert- (Stroud should know. He is their lead singer now. One of those great Chicago sixties bands)
15. Yellow Brick Road- Elton John- (OK, so this one doesn't inspire me to get out on the road.)

16. Gasoline Alley- Rod Stewart- (Probably my second-favorite Stewart song.)
17. Get Your Kicks on Route 66- Rolling Stones- Going out west with Mick and the boys- (You just can't go on a road trip without this one. However, this is the only one Bob ever plays. Hey, Bob, how about Chuck Berry's version? A lot of bands have done it. Check them out.)
18. Highway 61 Revisited- Bob Dylan- (Hey, wasn't that where Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil?)
19. E Street Shuffle- Bruce Springsteen- from second album

20. Crossroads- Cream-- (Speaking of Robert Johnson.)
21. Long Lonesome Highway- Michael Parks- from TV show "Then Came Bronson"
22. Carefree Highway- Gordon Lightfoot

23. Pacific Coast Highway- Mamas and Papas- (Never heard this one before, but it's a good one about a very famous road up the Pacific coast.)
24. Lake Shore Drive- Alliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah- (What other song would you close with in Chicago?)

Great songs. Time to hit the road!!!

By the way, my favorite soul singer is the late, great Otis Redding. My favorite Rod Stewart song is "Maggie Mae."

On the Road Again, I Just Can't Wait to get on the Road Again. --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lincoln Buffs On the Loose in Chi-town

The July 17th Chicago Tribune had an article by Patrick T. Reardon "Land of Lincoln?!?! : On the 16th president's curious trail, with a guy who should know."

It was a humorous look at the way Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln, whose bicentennial of his birth is coming up in 2009. Reardon went out with Andrew Ferguson, who has just written a new book called "Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America" which Reardon described as a "lively, thoughtful, fun travelogue through the many, and sometimes odd, ways that Americans celebrate the Rail-splitter."

Reardon said both he and Ferguson got hooked on Lincoln during the Civil War Centennial back in the 1960s. I was just becoming interested in the Civil War and the centennial celebration sealed the deal. There was Civil War stuff all over the place. Only, being from the South, my interest was in the Lost Cause. My dad had to explain that even though we lived in North Carolina, we didn't fight for the north.  (I was 7 years old at the time in 1958.)

Of course, now, I'm into the old roads, and the Lincoln Highway has to go down as the LONGEST memorial ever built to Lincoln, or for that matter, anybody.  And a highway Liz and I have driven a whole lot.

One place they didn't get to see was Lincoln Pest Services on North Avenue in Chicago. One quote I liked in the article was what Lincoln had to say of his Blackhawk War experiences when he said he never fought any Indians "but had a good many bloody battles with the mosquitoes."

Michael Tercha, a photographer accompanied them and seven pictures accompanied the article. There is a Lincoln Billiards sign at 5334 N. Lincoln Ave. Only the sign is written in Korean.


LINCOLN SQUARE- Lawrence and Western avenues- by Avard Fairbanks and holding a book. That was Lincoln's way out of poverty. He read a lot of newspapers and in 1859 even bought one printed in German as he knew he wanted the German-American vote.

SENN PARK- Thorndale, Ridge, and Ashland avenues- by Charles Keck -without a beard- of all the Lincoln impersonators Ferguson knows, only one makes his living without a beard. Lincoln did not have a beard for 52 of his 56 years.

CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM- 1601 N. Clark Street- by Augustus Saint-Gaudens- supposedly Lincoln's face was changed to look a little more fierce, but still keeping the kindness. The clothes are a bit rumpled.

Other Chicago Lincoln Stuff

LINCOLN RESTAURANT at 4008 N. Lincoln Avenue with a great likeness on the sign.

FORMER SITE OF THE THAI LITTLE HOME CAFE at 4747 N. Kedzie Avenue- a little bar in the back had a foot tall reproduction of the Lincoln Memorial statue. Now moved to Arlington Heights but no mention if the statue is still with them. Perhaps I'll have to check it out.

LINCOLN TOWING SERVICE, INC- at 4882 N. Clark Street- home of the infamous Lincoln Park Pirates who'd tow almost anything, including the boats in Belmont Harbor. Made famous by Chicagoan Steve Goodman's song "Lincoln Park Pirates."

This was a fun look at some of Abraham Lincoln's legacy in Chicago. Really, the pirates and written in Korean?

Looking Forward to the Celebration in two years. --RoadDog

Talking with Private Domain, Korean War Vet

Last night, at the American Legion in Fox, Lake, Illinois, I had the opportunity to talk with Larry Domain, who I found out was a Korean War veteran. Like the WWII vets, the Korean War vets are fast passing on into eternity.

He told me that the first thing the army did to him upon induction was to make him Private Domain. We had a good laugh about that one. At least he didn't become Eminent Domain. He said he'd rather be Private Domain as it is not fair for the government to take people's land away from them.

One interesting story he had was that he never actually saw combat, but he did see his sergeant killed in a fluke accident. Larry Domain was in the army engineers and they were working on leveling a road in South Korea. His sergeant was overseeing the project and operating the tractor.

The South Korean had assigned older citizens to assist the Americans and the GIs called them Papasans. Their job was to clear stones from the roadbed. One old Papasan found an object and brought it over to the sergeant. It turned out to be a hand grenade. Evidently, when Papasan picked it up, the pin had rusted and fell out. As he handed it to the sergeant, it went off, killing both right on the spot.

Now, this was in the days before terrorism, so it was obviously unintential, but still a tragedy.

A Big Salute to Our Korean War Vets. --RoadDog

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Found--One Pull Tab Beer Can in the Chain

Speaking of history, this past Wednesday, while out on the Chain of Lakes in my boat, I came across a can floating in Fox Lake by Mineola Bay. As I usually do, I drifted up by it and pulled it out of the water.

It was an Old Style beer can. At first I thought someone must have thrown it in during the weekend, but, when I looked at the top, I noticed it was an old pull tab, where it came off completely. This has to be an old can, that was underwater for a long time. An anchor probably dislodged it.

How long had it been under the water. I did a little Wikipedia research and found out that the new stay tabs had pretty-well completely replaced the old pull tabs by the early 1980s, so this can is probably at least 25 years old. It would be interesting to know its story.


The aluminum can that holds most pop and beer we now drink, was invented in 1959. Before that, there were aluminum cans, but with cone tops and a cap you twisted off.

The first pop company to use the new cans was RC Cola and Diet-Rite Cola in 1964.

The pull tabs became a major source of litter. Some people would put the used tabs in the cans and an unfortunate few swallowed them, so much for doing your good deed for the day.

The stay tabs were a big improvement and have no doubt saved millions of bare feet from serious wounds on the beaches of America.

Hey, any collector out there want to buy a slightly-used beer can?

In my younger days, I stepped on my fair share of pop tops and would definitely like to thank whoever invented the stay tab. Thank you very much.

Like Jimmy Buffett Says, "Stepped on a Pop Top. Had to Cruise Myself on Back Home." --RoadDog

Titanic Child Victim Identified

The August 1st Chicago Tribune had an article about the identification of 19 month-old Sidney Leslie Goodwin as one of the victims that night back in 1912 when the "Unsinkable" RMS Titanic sank.

The body of "The Unknown Child" was interred at Halifax, Nova Scotia's Fairview Cemetery and for decades, his identity was unknown. It came to be a symbol for all the children who perished that night. In 2002, researchers decided that he was a 13-month old Finnish boy. In July, the body was disinterred and DNA tests matched that of a maternal relative. His was the only body of any family member recovered. The announcement was made July 30.

His family had booked third-class passage on another boat that wasn't able to sail and they were transferred to third-class on the Titanic. They were from England and were on their way to the US so that the father could get a job at a power plant in Niagara Falls that relatives had secured for him. Many of the third-class passengers were not English-speaking and died when the ship went down.

There is a good article about him in Wikipedia. You can also see a pair of his shoes that are now at Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax as well as a picture of his grave marker.

An Interview with Michael Wallis

The July 30th Salt Lake City Tribune ran an interview with author Michael Wallis who is on the road right now to promote his new book "The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate."

Michael is not a fan of the interstate at all. He refers to them as "slabs of monotony: chain motels, chain restaurants and an emphasis on speed over sightseeing."

"The Golden Arches are the same in Provo as they are in Sacramento and Tallahassee. When you walk into a McDonald's, you know what you're going to get. But, when you walk into the Grub Bar in Magna and sit down, you don't know what you're going to get."

"People have learned that life begins at the off-ramp. When you get off the superslab (Old roadie talk for the interstate) and go back to the old roads, you're getting authentic America."

I know I used to be Mr. Interstate, and hated it when I had to get off on an old two-laner. But now, I drive those blue roads every chance I get.

Say it Again, Michael. --RoadDog

Doing the Lincoln Highway

Some recent items about the Lincoln Highway. Why, Liz and I were just on it last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday on a mini road trip out to Clinton, Iowa, with a stop at Franklin Grove to hear Michael Wallis, Michael Williamson, and Brian Butko speak.

1. All you yard sale fanatics, mark your calendars for next weekend, August 9-11, when what probably is the world's largest garage sale takes place, the Lincoln Buy-Way. It will cover four states and 586 miles. Towns along the Lincoln Highway have gotten together to push this event, now in its third year.

Back in the first year, 2005, it was just in Ohio. In 2006, Indiana joined in. This year, West Virginia and Illinois, and next year, Iowa. Who knows, eventually we might have the first transcontinental garage sale if this continues.

2. John E. Gingerich, of Canton, Ohio, after reading about Michael Wallis and Michael Williamson's new book on the Lincoln Highway, paused to reflect on the story he was told by his parents on their 1921 trip on the road from Kansas to Ohio. His parents, Moses and Lydia Gingerich were too poor to buy train tickets and were told the best thing for them to do was to buy a vehicle, drive it to Ohio, and sell it.

They bought a remodeled 1915 Model T truck and left Bucklin, Kansas, near Dodge City, and made the trip with their 5 children, not John, who was born in 1924. I was able to ascertain if they were just visiting or moving for good, but John is still in Ohio.

It took eight days of patching tubes and driving on gravel, but they made it.

From the July 31st

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Something Else to See on Route 66

I just read about the Texaco Memorabilia Collection at the Dobson Museum in Miami, Oklahoma, and, for you non-Route 66 folk, or Oklahomans, that is not pronounced like the Miami in Florida. This is more like My-a-muh.

The Dobson Museum is just off Route 66 at 110 A SW- phone 918-542-5388. The museum is open Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Sunday from 1-4 PM. The museum also features an Indian cultural collection, pioneer furniture and toys, and many other items.

When you go to the site, you get to hear a classic Texaco commercial. This collection was donated by a Miami resident who now lives in Atlanta, Ga. I guess he couldn't take it with him.

Sounds Like a Good Place to Stop. --RoadDog

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Landmarks of Rock- New Book

The July 29th Chicago Tribune had an article about author Chris Epting's new book "Led Zeppelin Crashed Here" which is a guide to rock and roll sites in the US.

Even though Chicago is often called the World Capital of the Blues, many residents do not know much about the blues stars that call the city home. However, the Rolling Stones sure did. One of the Chicago landmarks is Chess Records at 2120 Michigan Avenue. This was the home of Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Howlin' Wolf. The Stones even recorded a song called "2120 Michigan Avenue."

Epting, who also wrote "James Dean Died Here", says that 60 percent of his readers are male, but one thing that surprises him is how many teenagers are into classic rock, often wearing Jimi Hendrix or Doors shirts.

Chicago also gets mention for the site of the Grateful Dead's last concert at Soldier Field and the Astor Towers Hotel (now an apartment building) where John Lennon held his press conference to cool off the furor caused by his more popular than Jesus remark. Also, downstate Benton, Illinois has the home of George Harrison's sister where he spent some months before the Beatles got big. It is now a B&B called "A Hard Day's Night Bed & Breakfast."

Think I'll Have to Check This Book Out. --RoadDog

Gettin' My Kicks on Route 66

1. MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA- The very tragic collapse of the interstate bridge in this city has gotten the nation to take an in-depth look at its aging bridges. Many of the ones along the old Route 66 are in bad shape, especially the one by Devil's Elbow in Missouri.

2. MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA- The July 29th Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports that 285 Girl Scouts are going to be taking a trip across all eight Route 66 states over a period of four days. Now, before you say that that will not enable them to see much (it took my wife Liz and myself two weeks to drive it last fall), I also have to say it won't cost anything in gas.

They'll be taking it at a camp in the Lake Minnewashta Regional Park at the 16th annual Twilight Camp. This year's event is called "Twilight on Route 66."

Four different sites in the park will each offer trips to two states apiece. Each site will have a science project, physical activity, snack, and chance to create a scrapbook page.

The whole idea is to recreate a family roadtrip. How to exist without an Ipod?

There will be 150 adult volunteers and nine months of planning has gone into the project.

Always Happy to Get the Word Out. --RoadDog

Great News with Cook County Hospital

In an abrupt departure from what his father wanted to do, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has introduced a plan to save the historic Cook County Hospital which has been closed since 2002.

His father wanted to spend $30 million to destroy the Beaux-Arts landmark at 1835 W. Harrison on Chicago's West Side. The building stretches for two city blocks. Its classic grandeur shares a compassionate care for the poor. It is also historic. It was the site of the nation's first blood bank in 1937.

There are 250,000 square feet of space that could be used for office, retail, or housing.

Todd Stroger calls for $140 million to accomplish the task.

This is One IMPRESSIVE Building and I'm Glad to See it Won't be Torn Down. --RoadDog

Lincoln Film Might be Delayed

A new, 20-minute film about Abraham Lincoln that will be used in the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, might face some filming delays if the state budget is not settled by Wednesday.

Filming at the Lincoln home would not be affected, but shots at the old state capitol, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, and New Salem, which are operated by the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency, a state entity, might be delayed if those sites shut down.

The shooting was set to begin this week and $200,000 is budgeted for the effort.

Alright, Gov. and General Assembly, Let's Get Down to Brass Tacks. --RoadDog