Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Indy 500-- Part 8: Walkin' and a Walkin', No Drivin'

MAY 23, 2015, SATURDAY

Now, loaded down with souvenirs (should have bought them on the way out), we walked over to the Indy 500 museum, also inside the track.  Paul and John are of the mind to pay the price to do a couple laps at fast speed around the track.  (I think they're nuts.  Really fast speed in car scares me.)

And, the museum is a good walk, even more so as we walked up and down most of the lanes around Gasoline Alley.  Once we got over by the museum, John and Paul could not find the place to get information about running the course.

But, there was a big area under tents where the vintage cars that had gone around the track earlier were parked so I got to see them up close.  I was especially interested in one that had a speedometer that went "all" the way up to 65 mph.  I also enjoyed the 60% off sale at the cut rate souvenir shop by the museum and bought a 2014 Indy Champion hat for $12.  Like I needed another hat.

We then walked through the various company areas.  As usual, I liked the Chevrolet one the best.  Those 2015 Malibus and Camaros.  Wow, I want one of each.

What was that old Fats Domino song about?  "I'm Walking."

Dog-Tired Feet.  --RoadDog

News From Along Route 66-- May 2015

MAY 28TH--  An auto museum with a giant old-time gas pump is planned for Sapulpa, Oklahoma.  It  will be called the Heart of Route 66 Museum and will feature a 20-foot tall vintage inspired gas pump.  The museum will be in an old armory building.  Good to see old buildings given new uses.  Looking forward to seeing that giant gas pump.

MAY 29TH--  A military museum may be coming to Wilmington, Illinois.  Ohio native R. Fred Rolsten has a big collection of items from both world wars and other wars.  It will be in a 25,000 square foot building.

MAY 29TH--  The state of Oklahoma is selling the former Suntide Inn in OKC at auction June 15th.  It was mist recently used as the Kate Bernard Community Correction Center.

The motel was built in the 1940s as the Major Court and owned by the Leylend Ruby Overman and grew into the 75-unit Suntide Inn in the 1950s.  It became the correctional center in 1992.

Oklahoma needs money because of the drastic drop in oil money.  Somehow, I am happy that oil prices have come down.

MAY 30TH--The Negro Motorist Green Book project to document Route 66 properties listed in it has won a grant.  The book was published between 1936 and 1864 by Victor  H. Green and featured restaurants, motels, barber shops, beauty parlors, taverns and garages that served blacks during the Jim Crow era.  It is called "The Bible of Black Travel."

I am glad this project won the grant as it is about an often-overlooked aspect of Route 66 and all American roads before the 1960s.


Monday, June 29, 2015

20 1/2 Cents for Gas!!

As gas around here in northeast Illinois slowly falls below $3 a gallon, there was an Old Picture of the Day web site photo on June 1, 2015, of a gas station sign from some years back.

The gas price was broken down:

Gasoline--  5 cents
State--  5 cents
Uncle Sam--  1 cent
City--  1 cent
R.R.--  2 1/4 cents (Not sure exactly what this meant.  Railroad?)
Agent--  1 1/4 cents
Me--  4 cents

Total--  20 1/2 cents.

There was a cooment that said that today, Me gets about 2 cents a gallon.

But, I Could Live With That Gas Price.  --RoadDog

Indy 500-- Part 7: The Attack Of/On Indy 500 Souvenirs

MAY 23, 2015, SATURDAY:

Until this trip, I had always refrained from buying any souvenirs.  I don't need any more souvenirs.  I mean, I REALLY DON'T need any more souvenirs.  I also don't need to be getting "hooked" on any more things.  I am hooked on way too many things anyway (one reason for all these blogs).

But today would be different.  Not only am I getting hooked on the Indy cars and know most of the drivers' names now and have my favorites, but also, today, I broke the souvenir barriers and did some big buying.  Most of it was directed at anything with tomorrow's date, May 24, 2014, as that is also my 64th birthday that Paul so well sang about back in the 1960s.

It sure seemed a long way off back then.

I bought a hat, tee shirt, shot glass, flag, license plate and a tee shirt for Liz.  And these souvenirs weren't cheap.  Most every tee short and hat was $25+.

Darn it, Sue and Paul.

I Should Never Gone.  --RoadDog

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Indy 500-- Part 6: Vintage Cars and Juan Pablo Montoya.

I had considered going to the Legion to have their buffet, but when Paul said he was going to make his famed breakfast scramble, that settled that thought.

Today is Legend's day, where you pay $10 and get to walk and walk and walk all over the track area and see a whole lot of stuff.  We almost missed the running of the vintage Indy cars around the track because of a confusion with the Eastern/Central time zone thing and Paul forgetting his wallet, but we did get seated by the brick finish line just in time to see the last couple laps.  The two-seater was especially interesting.  In the early days of the race, a mechanic had to also be in the vehicle.

I was disappointed that one pf my favorite racers, Jim Hinchcliffe, was not in the race, even though he had a fast-enough speed to qualify.  Unfortunately, he had a horrible accident earlier in the week.

I had to turn around and go back early on during our trek when I suddenly found the others had stopped a ways back.  John told me that the guy standing by a race car was racer Juan Pablo Montoya.  There were just three other people standing around him besides our group.  His name would come up again the next day.

Imagine That?  --RoadDog

Friday, June 26, 2015

Indy 500-- Part 5: The Smells of an RV Campground

Continued from May 29th entry.

May 22nd, 2015, Friday

Once back to the TV from Speedway's Main Street Paul got the grill out and it was brats, Hebrew National hot dogs and Smoky Links.  Then some cocktails.  I tell you, sitting amongst all those RVs around eating time, with so much outside grilling being done, well, you can gain weight just smelling the air.

I went over to the American Legion (we are on their grounds) and saw a two-piece group called MLE, named after Emily, the very talented singer  She had a great voice and the guitar player also could really pull the strings on the fiddle.  Watched them for a couple sets.

Then went back to the RV and joined the others watching the NHL Rangers-Lightning Playoff game on Sue and Paul's outside TV.  Imagine hockey outside on a warm late spring evening.

Not Bad.  --RoadDog

Thursday, June 25, 2015

That's One Big Fish in Twin Lakes-- Part 2

Fisherman's Dude Ranch was located at 9665 Golf Road in Des Plaines, Illinois and opened in 1956.  The owners had a deep gravel pit they had mined and instead of filling it in, put water in it and turned it into a fishing lake.  The 12-foot high fisherman and 14-foot long fish were there to draw folks in to pay to fish.

Admission for adults was $2 and $1 for children, but you paid by the pound for any fish you caught.  Fish stocked included bass, walleye, catfish, pike and trout.  The cost per pound was anywhere from $1.69 to $3.99, depending what you caught.

There was an adjacent miniature golf course with a fishing theme.

As of 2013, the main lake was reported to still be there and some folks had sneaked in to fish but caught nothing.

It is privately owned by a developer now.

I'm looking forward to seeing the fish and fishermen at Mad Dan's.  We lived in Des Plaines from 1973-1974 and drove by the place many times but never stopped in.

A Fishy Story.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

That's One Big Fish in Twin Lakes-- Part 1

From the June 10, 2015, Hi-Liter by Beth Croy.

The Twin Lakes (Wisconsin) Village Board has approved a request to allow a large fisherman and fish statue to be mounted on the top of Mad Dan's Restaurant.

The 14-foot-long fish and 12-foot tall fisherman are a well-known icon from the former Fisherman's Dude Ranch in Des Plaines, Illinois, which opened in 1956 and closed down in 1997.

Ken Perl of Mad Dan's said he used to fish there when he was younger and that its presence will attract people to town.

The fisherman weighs 350 pounds and the fish is 425 pounds and will be mounted on cemented steel pipes outside the restaurant.

Always glad when something like this is preserved.  Too neat to throw away.

Something to See.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lincoln Highway Conference Begins Today in Ann Arbor, Michigan

And wish I was able to be there.  Even though the Lincoln Highway never went through the state, it plays a big role in the highway, especially among early leadership.

I also would have liked to have traveled some on US-12, as that highway is important to me and its eastern terminus is in Detroit.

Have Fun All You L-Hers.  --RoadDog

News from Route 66: May 2015

MAY 20TH-- Tulsa's Route 66 Experience to be open by 2018 with groundbreaking in 2016 at a cost of $19.6 million.  I always like to see new things coming for Route 66.  Just one more fun thing to do.

MAY 23RD--  The wife of Gary Turner died.  She and Gary had been married for over 50 years.  She died May 22 at age 72, less that six months after her husband.  I am hoping that someone continues to operate Gay Parita.

MAY 24TH--  The Route 66 Gateway in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had its ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 23rd.  Something else.

MAY 27TH--  Ann Brimacombe, art director in Minneapolis has posted some ads she worked on for K-Mart's Route 66 fashion line with a road trip theme.  Unfortunately, the videos can not be shown.

Whenever I buy new clothes, I try to get this brand.  Supporting the road and looking stylish.

That's the Thing.

The Road Never Stays the Same.  --RoadDog

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bob Cassilly-- Part 3: "Worked With Junk and Hired Misfits"

From the Jan. 25, 2012, St. Louis Magazine "Deconstructing Bob Cassilly" by Jeannette Cooperman.

An excellent article about the man.  I particularly enjoyed the first paragraph:

"Bob Cassilly worked with junk and hired misfits; did everything to guarantee economic failure and made money instead.  he was labeled an overgrown kid without social skills, yet he jump-started two wrecked neighborhoods and turned a rotting warehouse into what's been ranked as one of the greatest public spaces in the world.  He set out only to please himself, and he managed to delight 600,000 people a year."

Sure Wish I Could Have Met Him.  --RoadDog

Bob Cassilly-- Part 2: Renovated a Neighborhood and Created the City Museum in St. Louis

Bob Cassilly was born in Webster Grove, Missouri, near St. Louis.  He built and ran a restaurant after college, then sold it and used the money to move to Hawaii where he carved wooden figures.  He reportedly tired of Hawaii and returned to St. Louis.

In May 1972, he was visiting St. Peter's Basillica at Vatican City when Laslo Toth infamously attacked Michelangelo's The Pieta.  Bob was one of the first to act and subdue Toth.

In the mid-1970s, he renovated a townhouse in a dilapidated St. Louis neighborhood.  This led to the area rebounding.  He then started making sculptures professionally.

He and his wife Gail bought a 250,000 square-foot complex which included the International Shoe Building Offices and a ten-story high warehouse in 1983.This they renovated into the very popular City Museum (which i had never heard of before the article I wrote about last week.

Bob Cassilly is a big part of what has become a major renovation of downtown St. Louis.

I Sure Would Have Liked to Have Met This Man.  --RoadDog

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bob Cassilly-- Part 1: "Worked With Junk and Hired Misfits"

From Wikipedia.  The quote above from the St. Louis Magazine.

After writing about St. Louis' City Museum the last two days and seeing a picture of its outside, I just had to find out some more about this Bob Cassilly.  Strange that with all my Route 66 knowledge, I never heard of the City Museum or Bob.  Might he be somewhat akin to out own Bob Waldmire?

The answer: probably brothers from another mother.

Wikipedia lists him as an American sculptor, entrepreneur and creative director.  That pretty well sums up Bob Waldmire as well, only perhaps a little more settled.

He was based in St. Louis and founder of the idiosyncratic City Museum which gets an average of 700,000 visitors a year and is considered one of St. Louis' major attractions.

I Know Where I'm Going the Next Time Through.  Then to Drewe's for a Concrete.  --RoadDog

Friday, June 19, 2015

Repurposed Buildings Become Tourist Draw in the Midwest-- Part 3


Sculptor and junk hound Bob Cassilly, who died in 2011, gets credit for transforming the musty manufacturing plant into an eccentric palace of fun for all ages.  In other words. most of this 600,000-square-foot building into one really cool place.  Looking at the accompanying photo, I'm going there next Route 66 trip through town.

One slide is made of rollers that used to transport shoes through the building.  there is also a 7-foot-tall pair of underwear and a 21,500-pound pencil, both called the world's largest.


A cluster of brick buildings that at one time was the North Michigan Asylum has been reborn as a city hub for events, shopping and dining.  The largest is Building No. 50 which opened in 1885 and housed up to 3,500 mental patients, but today is the anchor of the Commons as the Nercato, a dozen independent boutiques and galleries.

It was saved from demolition and its 63 acres are multi-purpose now.  There is an adjacent 400-some acres of city parkland.

You'd Have to Be Crazy to Go To This Place.  --RoadDog

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Repurposed Buildings Become Tourist Draws-- Part 2: Casket Arts Building and City Museum


More than 100 artists work in a century-old casket factory that ceased operations at this location in 2005.  Burial garments, funeral carriages and other internment supplies were also produced here and the primary building dates to 1887, making it one of the city's oldest.  Some art studios in the four-story building have business hours and others are open by appointment.


It has paths to climb or slide extending several stories inside and out in this one-time shoe factory.  On the ten-story-tall roof, there is a Ferris wheel and a school bus that seems to teeter.  Kids get to play, while adults get to have a drink.

More to Come.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Repurposed Buildings Become Tourist Draws-- Part 1: Brewhouse Inn

From the May 31, 2015, Chicago Tribune by Mary Bergin.

Some travel destinations are built from the ground up, but other times, old, unique buildings are taken and converted to other uses.  This is the dream of every preservationist.  Here are four Midwest examples:


Pabst was one of the nation's largest brewers in the 1970s but was forced out of business by a change in ownership and rising competition.  Then the buildings sat unused for a length of time, but now Buildings20 and 21 are a 90-unit boutique hotel with a reception desk made of 1,550 beer bottles from Milwaukee-based brewers.  Rates start at $199

In the five-story atrium, you will find the copper tops of brewing kettles for Pabst.  King Gambrinus, the unofficial patron saint of beer is depicted on a two-story-tall stained-glass window.

You will also find Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pun attached to the hotel for those of you who get inspired for a taste.  One block downhill is Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery where visitors can down a free beer or root beer.  There is a gift shop and all of it is at the former Pabst headquarters.

What Did Tom T. Hall Say Anout Beer?  --RoadDog

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Finally Finished "The Local Character"-- Savannah's John Potter

Today I posted the final entry on John Potter, the Savannah resident who created a fake photo of the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia which was sunk in the Savannah River in December 1864 to prevent its capture by Sherman's men at the conclusion of their March to the Sea from Atlanta.

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently in the middle of a project to raise its remnants for a river deepening and widening project.

Interest in the old Confederate ironclad has never been higher and Potter's "hoax" photo was the only one known  in existence.  From all accounts, he was quite a "local character" on Tybee Island at one time and hung out at a bar called Huc-A-Poos.

We went looking for this bar back in April.  We found it after enduring quite the traffic jams getting to the island, a Civil War fort, driving around lost quite a bit and an incorrect GPS site, but finally found the place and had drinks and ate.  Huc-A-Poos is one of those bars that is definitely different from your BW3s or TGIFs.

To get the whole story, go to my Running the Blockade blog for today's date and punch the Potter John label to get the whole story.

It Was Quite the Road Trip.  --RoadDog

News From Along Route 66-- May 2015: The Sputnik and Lenore

MAY 19TH:    The Sputnik ball from Springfield, Illinois' doomed Bel Aire Motel will be saved and restored for a sign company's sign museum.  Ace Sign Company of Springfield will place it in their neon museum, which started operating today at 2340 S. First Street.

They also have a large collection of Reisch Brewing, Stag Beer, Steak N Shake and Hub clothing store signs.  It is believed that the Bel-Aire's owner installed the Sputnik ball in the 1960s during the Space Race.  The motel itself was built on Route 66 in the early 1950s and has been in severe decline since 2000.

It would have been nice to have saved the motel, but it was too far gone.  The Sputnik was by far the neatest thing about it and the motel sign hopefully will be saved as well.

MAY 20TH:  The Odell Station in Odell, Illinois, held a commemoration for Laura Weiss, wife of Mr. Route 66 in Illinois, John Weiss.  Between the two of them, they have been great to have on our stretch of the Mother Road.  Their efforts helped preserve this great old gas station.

It was held May 23.  Lenore died of cancer in 2010

The gas station was builtin 1932 as a Standard Oil station.  Then later, it was Sinclair and Phillips 66.  It closed in the 1970s and is on the NRHP.

We are so happy to have met and talked with Lenore Weiss on many occasions.  She is missed.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Woody Creek Tavern: Where Gonzo's Spirit Lives On

From the May 31, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Spirit of Thompson lives on" by David Kelly.


Most days someone wanders into this "rustic little saloon in a lush valley outside of Aspen" asking for directions to Hunter S. Thompson's house.  They are often wearing black, smoking cigarettes and have "gonzo" tattooed somewhere.

People at the bar don't tell them.

Ten years after Thompson's suicide at his Owl Farm, this bar, where he would get "frightfully drunk, abused drugs and incited mayhem has become a shrine" of sorts.  The walls are covered with his pictures at different stages of his career.

Looking at a photo of the bar, I'd have to say it is definitely one of those dive bars.  there are stories of Thompson carrying a gun in his golf bag, leveling a gun at the bartender and shooting...blanks and emptying the place with a smoke bomb.  Most folks definitely would not be asked back, but that was not accorded to the gonzo journalist.

When he died, his ashes were blasted from a 100-foot cannon," said one patron.

At the Woody Creek Community Center next door, there is a whole shelf of Thompson's work and his wife, Anita, who still lives at Owl Farm holds a class here as part of her Gonzo Foundation to promote his legacy.

On Feb. 20, 2005, Thompson, 67 and in declining health, ate a breakfast of fresh fruit and Jell-O with gin and Grand Mariner splashed on top then got a pistol and shot himself.

A place to Visit If Out There.  --RoadDog

Let the Bobcats Roam

From the June 4, 2015, Chicago Tribune editorial.

Last weekend, the Illinois House just barely had enough votes to lift Illinois' longtime ban on hunting bobcats.  One of them even compared one of these small, 30-40 pound, creatures ion his backyard to a sabertoothed tiger.

There was fear from another that a small child or woman might get carried off by one.

People hunt them for their prize pelts as a trophy, not to eat the meat.

Illinois banned bobcat hunting in 1971\2 because their population had almost been wiped out by habitat changes and overhunting.  Since then, their population has rebounded to about 5,000.  last yea Gov. Quinn wisely vetoed a bill to reinstate hunting.  Now, it is up to Gov. Rauner to do the same.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ten Fun Facts About Disneyland-- Part 2

6.  TALLEST STRUCTURE:  Matterhorn Mountain at 147 feet.

7.  GOT TIME:  Look for more than two dozen clocks and other time pieces throughout the park that have the wrong time, or no time at all, including the one at Haunted Mansion with only one hour: 13 o'clock.

8.  DO NOT PULL THE ROPE:  If you're in the line for the Indiana Jones Adventure, pull the rope marked "Do Not Pull Rope!" [You'll hear a surprise.]

9.  THE JUNGLE CRUISE:  The iconic Jungle Cruise ride was inspired by the Humphry Bogart/Katharine Hepburn movie "The African Queen."

10.  MOST EXPENSIVE SOUVENIR:   Sold at the Main Street Magic Shop is a key owned by Harry Houdini for $875.

What, Still No Pirates?  --RoadDog

Ten Fun Facts About Disneyland-- Part 1

From the Disneyland Book of Lists.

1.  WHY DID WALT DISNEY CHOOSE ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA?  One reason:  Annual rainfall there averaged only one inch a month, drier than most of surrounding L.A. County.

2.  ADMISSION AND PARKING OPENING DAY:  Adult admission opening day was $1 and it cost 25 cents to park your car.

3.  NUMBER OF ATTRACTIONS OPENING DAY:  There were 17 main attractions when the park opened.  Today there are more than 60.

4.  GHOSTS AT NIGHT?  Legend has it that spooky spirits roam the park at night.  Ghosts have been reported at various locations, including the Haunted House (of course), Space Mountain and even Walt Disney's apartment above the Fire Hall in Town Square.  (His ghost?)

5.  DISNEYLAND ATTRACTION WITH THE LONGEST NAME?    The Disneyland Story Presenting Great moments With Mr. Lincoln.

And, those Pirates and Small Folks.  --RoadDog

Disneyland Turns 60

From the May 31, 2015, Parade Magazine.

Disneyland opened its doors on July 17, 1955, and since then has welcomed more than 700 million visitors.  As Walt Disney himself once said, "There is nothing like it in the whole world.  I know, because I looked."The "Happiest Place on earth" is planning a year-long Diamond Celebration that has already kicked off this month.

Here are some ways Disneyland is making itself bigger and better:

LIGHTING UP THE NIGHT:  The beloved Main Street Electric Parade gets a modern-day make-over with a new Paint the Night Parade that features 1.5 million LED lights.  There is also a new fireworks show over Sleeping Beauty's Castle as well.

FANCY EATS:  New food and beverages include orange-and lemon-flavored Diamond Cel;ebration cupcakes and a Frozen Pomegranate Silver Sparkler.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS:  Via digital technology, he co-hosts a new "World of Color--Celebrate!" show alongside Mickey Mouse, telling the story of Walt Disney's journey to create Disneyland.

And, of course there are souvenirs to honor the 60th anniversary.

The Mouse Will be Happy If You Go.  --RoadDog

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mississippi's Blues Trail-- Part 2: A Half Empty Whiskey Bottle

The trail is self-guided and available by app through iTunes and Android.  There are also printed maps at Mississippi welcome centers and online at www.msbluestrail.org.

lara Weber recently drove through Mississippi and when she entered the Delta got to talking with her companion about B.B. King and that he had just been admitted to hospice care and died May 14th, they visited his birthplace  in Berclair. Mississippi.  There is nothing at the actual site of his birth except one of those Blues Trail markers  It says:  "B.B. KING'S BIRTHPLACE and then summarizes his life.

Jim O'Neal is the research director of the Mississippi Blues Trail and founding editor of the Living Blues Magazine in Chicago in 1970.  He says they started with the greats, but there were so many of local interest that they had to vastly expand the scope of the project.

One of the sites is radio station WROX in Clarksdale which was noted for its blues broadcasts and black deejays.  In Indianola, you can visit the grave of Charley Patton, who died in 1934 and is considered  the "Father of the Delta Blues."  (Reckon I'll have to brush up on my blues history.)

Much better known (to me, anyway) Robert Johnson is supposedly buried in a simple cemetery nmorth of Greenwood at the Little Zion Baptist Church.  It is the most likely of three grave sites he might be buried in, but no one's certain.  The blue Blues Trail marker is easy too find, and after a few minutes they found his headstone with a mostly empty whiskey bottle on it.

Sounds Like a Trip in the Making.  --RoadDog

Mississippi's Blues Trail-- Part 1: Highway 61 Revisited...and More!

From the June 7, 2015, Chicago Tribune "On Mississippi's Blues Trail" by Lara Weber.

If you're a blues fan (and I am) this is a good cruise for you going through towns like Tupelo, Clarksdale, Vicksburg (and Civil War there as well) and Biloxi and lots of others.  This is where "the ghosts of the musicians who played the blues, who invented the blues, float above the fields."

Such as Charley Patton (don't know him), Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters are here and many others, many of whom are much lesser known.  Bob Stroud played Muddy Waters' 1977 "Mannish Boy" on his Ten at ten on WDRV.

And, it is not just along U.S. Highway 61, the 1,400 mile road between New Orleans and Minnesota which is often referred to as "The Blues Highway."  But, its key stretch is in northwestern Mississippi in the region known as the Delta.

In 2003, the Mississippi Blues Commission was created to promote the blues and their main effort came in installing Mississippi Blues Trail markers across the state  The first ones were installed in 2006 and now number 186.

I Refer to Them As Blues On a Stick.  --RoadDog

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chicago Motor Club Building Is Back on the Road-- Part 2

General manager Ryna McKenzie of the hotel says that it is one of the most unique Hamptons in the world.  "When guests walk into this lobby, they're going to be blown away."

Even though it is crowded out by much larger and modern structures and outglammed by other boutique hotels like the Hard Rock Hotel at the more significant Carbide and Carbon Building, this is a destination in itself.

It is located at at 68 E. Wacker Place between the Church of Christ Scientist dome and Michigan Avenue.  The classical Motor Club Building insignia is below the Hampton Inn sign.  Once past the revolving doors, you stand in the 33-foot high lobby.

On the mezzanine above the lobby is a 1928 Ford Model A coupe with a rumble seat, which was purchased from a private collector in Spring Grove, Illinois.  That is where I live, but it is not mine.

Above the elevators in the lobby is a 33-foot-wide by 27-foot high mural map of the United States by Chicago artist John Warner Norton,  It predates the Interstate Highway System and shows the roads as they were in the 1920s.  However, I saw the Lincoln Highway, but not Route 66.

There is a legend on it showing major cities, national parks and highways.  One road is called the Black and Yellow Trail, also known today as US-14, that connects Chicago with Yellowstone National Park.

That Is One Impressive Map.  --RoadMap

Chicago's Motor Club Building Is Back on the Roadl-- Part 1: "A Short Building That's All About Being Tall"

From the June 7, 2015, Chicago Tribune "Motor Club back on the road" by Robert Duffer.

Renovated 'Temple of Transport" reopens as a Hampton Hotel.

"The automotive and architectural worlds have had big hands in shaping American culture over the past century.  Symbolizing the marriage of these industries, the renovated Chicago Motor Club Building bridges the past to the present by honoring Chicago's motoring history in a swanky art deco hotel that would please flappers and yuppies alike."

The building was built in 1928 for the Chicago affiliate of the American Automobile Association.  For a skyscraper, it is short, just 15 stories, but the tall open lobby defines what Chicago Tribune architect critic Blair Kamin calls "a short building that's about being tall."

In 2012 it was elevated to Landmark Status for Chicago.

But things were not always so great for the little, tall structure.  In 1985, the AAA Chicago Motor Club left to suburban Aurora.It had been vacant and near ruin since 2004.  Now, it iw an upscale Hampton Inn Hotel.  Hamptons, of course, are better known for roadside layovers than destination artworks.

On My List of Things to See in Chicago, Even If I can't Afford to Stay There.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bernard Queneau's Neatsfeet Oil and Masquantchee Indians

In yesterday's post, Bernard Queneau mentioned a "little mishap by breaking the neatsfeet oil.  Even worse, he got the "biggest shell" and got dirty.  I imagine the "biggest shell" referred to the way the Boy Scouts determined who was going to have to do whatever it was they had to do with that neatsfeet oil.

Nor, had I ever heard of neatsfeet oil, so had to look it up.  Good old Wikipedia said it is a yellow oil rendered from the shinbone or feet of cattle.  Neat is from an old English word for cattle.

It was used in conditioning, softening or preserving leather in the 18th century.  The highest grades of it are used as a lubricant and also used on working equipment.

So, they had neatsfeet along on the tour to either soften the leather seats or on the engine.  Either way, spilling it must have involved a messy cleanup.

As far as Bernard's initiation "into the Order of the Rainbow of the Masquantchee tribe," I was unable to find anything about this tribe.  Perhaps he misspelled the name?


The Lincoln Highway in 1928-- Part 2: Bernard Queneau's Diary-- "The Smaller They Are, the Harder They Bite"


The mosquitoes here are so tint that they can slip right through the netting, and the smaller they are, the harder they bite.  After a hearty breakfast we returned to Joliet and luckily we had no public welcomes except a little entry.

For the first time a banner was held across the street with "Welcome" on it.  The mayor cut this and we were allowed to proceed.  In the afternoon we rested a little for the first time.

We went to the Joliet Theater in the evening credited with the longest foyer in the world.

(I imagine this would be Joliet's Rialto Square Theatre.)


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Lincoln Highway in Illinois, 1928-- Part 1: Bernard Queneau's Diary

From the Diary of Bernard Queneau.  part of the Boy Scout group crossing the United States on Lincoln Highway.

MONDAY JULY 16, 1968:  Leaving camp at 8:45 we had a little mishap by breaking the neatsfoot oil.  Also, I had a little bad luck in getting the biggest shell.  After getting dirty, etc., we finally hit Chicago heights just in time to be at a Rotary lunch.  (I imagine the boys drew shells to see who had to fix it.)

After staying around Joliet a bit, we were out to camp with Hank Morton and his parents (I would not like to be in their position).  Paul Ohman, a real fine fellow, went along in another car.  The camp is pretty good for such a state.  At campfire we were initiated into the Order of the Rainbow of the Masquantchee tribe.

A Slice of L-H History.  --RoadDog

News From Along Route 66: May 2015

MAY 8TH:  A new Route 66 Visitors Center in Bloomington, Illinois, has been open for two weeks.  It is located in the McLean County Museum of History.  Maybe one of the towns I have long disliked for their lack of commitment to their Route 66 heritage is turning a new leaf.  Maybe I will even drive through it next time, instead of around it.

MAY 15TH:  About that Tropics restaurant sign in Lincoln, Illinois.  The Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County is considering restoring it.  It would look good right beside the reading Lincoln in the wagon or their building.

Way too striking of a sign to let deteriorate.

MAY 16TH:  John Biggs created a large Route 66 mural in Webb City, Missouri, and has restored it.  It is located on the Bruner Pharmacy Building at Main and Daugherty streets.  Time and the elements are somewhat harsh on outdoor murals.

Congratulations to Bloomington.  About Time.  --RoadDog

Monday, June 8, 2015

News From Along Route 66: May 2015

News stories taken from the Route 66 News site.  Ron Warnick has a lot more stories, pictures and greater detail.  I just do the ones I'm interested in.

MAY 1ST:   A New Museum for Pontiac, Illinois.  The Museum of the Gilded Arts will be opening in downtown Pontiac on May 2nd at 217 W. Mill Street, near the Illinois Route 66 Museum and Hall of Fame.

Pontiac is certainly becoming the Museum Town of the Route.  It joins the International Walldog Mural and Sign Art Museum, the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and the Livingston County War Museum.

And then there are those Walldog murals all over town.

MAY 8TH:   William Shatner, Captain Kirk for you Trekkers, will be traveling Route 66 this summer in his custom-made space-age motorcycle.  Why, he even appeared in one episode of the "Route 66" TV show in 1962 (that was filmed in Portland, Maine, so it doesn't count.  Currently, plans call for him to be on the road June 23-30.

I'm a big Star Trek fan, despite the acting and special effects being quite bad.  Freshman year at NIU, our room would fill up at the dorm after dinner for WGN showing reruns of the show.

Before he Blasted Off.  --RoadDog

Favorite Eating Places on Route 66-- Part 3: Illinois

THE CHILI PARLOR, Springfield--  Only eaten there once.  Chili was good, but I've had better.

WHIRLA-WHIP, Girard--  I believe we've been there once on an Illinois Route 66 Motor Tour, but didn't eat.

ARISTON CAFE, Litchfield--  A classic fancy eating experience at a reasonable cost.  Try to eat in the original room.  I like the loaner cheater glasses for us old folks who have trouble reading menus these days.

DECAMP JUNCTION, Staunton--  A place we've always wanted to visit, but it is always closed when we go by it.  One of these days.

WEEZY'S ROUTE 66, Hamel--  Right up there with Cozy Dog and Ariston.  Liked it when it was Earnie's and the place in between the two owners.  A real Route 66 place.

I Could Have Thought of Some Other Illinois Route 66 Places to Eat.  --RoadDog

Saturday, June 6, 2015

What About Illinois' Bobcats?-- Part 2

Continued from June 2nd.

Illinois banned bobcat hunting in 1972, after the population of bobcats was nearly gone.  Habitat changes and overhunting were the main reasons for their near demise.  They recovered because they became listed on Illinois' threatened species list from 1977 to 1999.  The state's bobcat population rebounded to around 5,000.

Last year, the General Assembly moved to lift the hunting ban on them.  The Chicago Tribune urged a veto of the bill and before he left office, Gov. Pat Quinn did exactly that.  Now, bobcat hunters are trying to get a new bill through the General Assembly to bring back the hunting.

Bobcats patrol the wilderness and don't threaten humans or large livestock.  They do, however eat wild rabbits and rats.  "Who doesn't think Illinois could use a well-fed bobcat and a few fewer rats?"

The Tribune urges new Governor Bruce Rauner to veto any such bill.

Give the Cats a Break.  --RoadDog

Friday, June 5, 2015

News From Along Route 66: April 2015

APRIL 20TH--   The long-closed Club Cafe in Santa Rosa, New Mexico is being torn down.  Always sorry to see an old building torn down.

APRIL 25TH--  A section of Route 66 in Kansas has been added to the NRHP.  It is located north of Baxter Springs.

APRIL 28TH--  Part of Route 66 in California's Mojave Desert may remain closed intil 2016 from the flash flooding that occurred last year.


Good Music Coming Your Way from Chicago: 1969 and 1975

I know some of you folks are of that age where these songs and years will mean something to you.

All times CDST.

Tomorrow, June 6th, WXRT's Saturday Morning Flashback with Wendy Rice goes back to 1969 for four hours between 8 a.m. and noon.  Lots of songs and tidbits from that year.  (I graduated high school and started college.)

Sunday, June 7th, Terri Hemmert, Beatle fan supreme, has her great Breakfast With the Beatles show on WXRT from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m..

Monday Tom Marker does his Bluebreakers Show from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Streams at www.wxrt.com.

Sunday, June 7tj, Bob Stroud starts his annual summer trek back 40 years, playing the music you'f be hearing on the radio and on your stereo for June 7, 1975.  He'll update it the first Sunday in July, August and September.  His show runs from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on WDRV.

Also, these are the years he'll be spotlighting on his Ten at Ten shows (10 a.m. and 10 p.m.) the next several days:

Today, Friday--  1969
Monday-- 1988
Tuesday--  1979
Wednesday--  1973

Streams at www.wdrv.com.

Plus, Fessa Hook is playing Beach Music Top 40 from 1978 at www.beachshag.com.  Plus you can also hear his Fish Fry Blues show and this week's Beach Music Top 40.

Lots of Great Music For the Listening..  --RoadDog

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Favorite Eating Places on Route 66-- Part 2: Illinois

Continued from Tuesday.  Illinois Favs.

RICH & CREAMY, Joliet--  Passed it many times but never stopped. One of these days.  By pretty park.

POLKA DOT DRIVE-IN, Braidwood--  Great food and love those statues outside and the revolving sign.

OLD LOG CABIN, Pontiac--  Has there ever been anything written about it that didn't mention it being turned around?  A real favorite.  great food and very laid-back.  We didn't have much luck finding it open the first years we were on 66, but have been there many times since.

PALMS GRILL, Atlanta.  It's been rebuilt and a great trip back to the days of blue plate specials.  And, leave room for the pie.  Come for the meal, but stay for the pie.  Just like those "good old days."

COZY DOG DRIVE-IN, Springfield.  I'll never forget the first time we went there.  We couldn't find it and stopped at a Burger King, got a frostee and asked where it was.  The counter person motioned across the street.  I hate when that happens.  So close, but no clue.

Not sure if I like the Cozy Dogs (don't call 'em Corn Dogs or get lectured) or fries best.

By the way, THE CORRECT WAY to eat a Cozy Dog is to slather on the mustard and then cover with onions.  Dog, batter, mustard and onion in every bite.  Plus, love the fries.  We catch up on our Route 66 reading there as well.

Ah, Give me Cozy Dog Now.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Betty Willis, Designer of Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Dies

BETTY WILLIS, 91 Died April 19, 2015.

You may not know her, but anyone who has ever been to Las Vegas sure knows what she did.  She created that wonderful "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign on the Strip.  It has been there since 1959.

It was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 with the words that it "is the best preserved and indeed the most iconic expression of the remarkable ascendancy of post-war Las Vegas and its famous Strip."

I have one of the lighted signs sitting on my bar downstairs as well as magnets and an ash tray featuring it.

I wrote about her death in more detail in my Cooter's History Thing Blog yesterday.


News From Along Route 66-- April 2015

APRIL 10TH--  "The Blue Whale" film will be made at its namesake in Catoosa, Oklahoma.  (I've always liked that town name.)  It has a $600,000 budget and is directed by Johnathan Rossetti and regarded as a coming of age film.  Always good to get Rt. 66's name out there.

APRIL 16TH--  The historic Milk Bottle Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, will reopen as the Prairie Gothic boutique.  The building was constructed in 1930 and is just 350 square feet and triangular.  But what makes it neat is that 11-foot tall sheet metal milk bottle that was put on top of it in 1948.  It is quite the attention-getter.  Several different businesses have operated in it.

Always good to find new uses for old buildings, especially the really neat ones like this.

APRIL 19TH--  That woman, Molly Schulyer,  who was defending her record for eating steak at the Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas, downed three 72-ounce steak meals in 20 minutes.  I'm figuring that is a record which will stand for a long, long time.  Again, she bites and swallows without chewing.  That would gag me so fast it's make me cry.

You can see a video of her attacking the steaks on You Tube.  Just don't watch it directly after you have eaten.

Just Some Stuff on Route 66.  --

Trinity, North Carolina: It's Trinity College Becomes Duke University

From Wikipedia.

Duke University was originally Trinity College which was located west of Durham in Trinity, North Carolina.  It was established in 1838 by Methodists and Quakers.  (Wake Forest University was originally in Wake Forest, N.C., but moved to Winston Salem, N.C..)

Trinity, N.C. is in Randolph County and has a population of 6,614.Trinity College started as Brown's Schoolhouse, founded in 1838 by Quaker and Methodists.  It was a private subscription school.  In 1841, the state of North Carolina issued a charter for the Union Institute Academy at the site.  The name was changed to Trinity College in 1859.

The current town took its name from the college.

Trinity College moved to Durham in 1892 and in 1924 had its name changed to Duke in honor of Confederate veteran and tobacco industrialist Washington Duke (who I've been writing about in my Running the Blockade Civil War Naval Blog).

Trinity, N.C., is the home of NASCAR race car drivers Kyle Petty, Bobby LaBonte and Brian Vickers.

Duke It Out.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

News From Along Route 66-- April 2015

From Route 66 News site.  Ron Warnick goes into more detail and has many other news stories.  I am just writing about the ones of most interest to me.

APRIL 2ND:  Atsuywki Katsuyama of Japan  plans to retrace Andy Payne's Bunyan Derby trek.  It will be 3,400 miles from Los Angeles to New York City and plans to begin it April 25.  Here come the really sore feet.  Good luck.  He plans to be in Chicago June 21st.  Does anyone know where he is right now?

APRIL 3RD:  Kean Isaacs is restoring a 1920s gas station in Foyil, Oklahoma.  I love old gas stations.  Thanks.

APRIL 5TH:  A new Route 66 souvenir shop has opened on Santa Monica Pier in California.  It is in a trailer, but at least they now have one.  Liz and I were greatly disappointed when we got to the end after starting in Chicago, and there was nothing really there.  Hey, we wanted a frove the whole way license plates or a tee shirt at least.

Getting my Kicks You know Where.  --RoadDog

Favorite Eating Places on Route 66-- Part 1: Illinois

From Route 66 News site.

Citing slow news along Route 66, the site decided to run a contest to see what is the best place to eat along Route 66.  The rules were that it had to be open and operating, must be on Route 66 or have a history with it, didn't have to be a five-star joint and must have a decent chance to win.

There were quite a few, but I'll focus on ones in Illinois and ones where we've eaten.


The BERGHOFF, Chicago.  Great old place, but I'm still mad about the fake closing they pulled on us when the daughter bought it.

LOU MITCHELL'S, Chicago  Loved this one.  Great breakfast and sign.  I'd have been happy just with their homemade toast, jam and that great coffee.

HENRY'S DRIVE INN, Cicero  Driven by it, but never ate there yet.  Love the giant hot dog on top of it.  And, of course, if you're claiming to have those Chicago Hot Dogs, it'd best be Real Good!!

DEL RHEA'S CHICKEN BASKET, Willowbrook.  Chicken as good as they boast.  Always a big debate as to whether this place or the next has the best chicken.

WHITE FENCE FARM,  Lemont  It's always been closed when we've visited.  One of these days and I will know which is better.  But, come to think of it, it's been so long since we've eaten at del Rhea's, we'll have to go back.

Getting Hungry Just Typing This.  --RoadDog

Bison Calf Great, But What About Bobcats?-- Part 1

From the April 10, 2015, Chicago Tribune "Where the bison and bobcats roam" Editorial.

All happiness about the photo of the baby bison born recently, the first wild one born in Illinois in two centuries.  The calf was trotting behind its mother at the 3,500 acre Nachusa Grasslands prairie restoration project near Franklin Grove, 95 miles west of Chicago (and hence the Lincoln Highway connection).

This is a remarkable accomplishment.  An animal once hunted to near extinction and now back.

"The bison, along with magnificent apex predators such as black bears, gray wolves and cougars belong here.  They should roam Illinois' prairie and forest.  They're part of the wilderness that belongs to no Illinois generation because it belongs to every Illinois generation.

"Which brings us to another endangered animal that deserves protection: the bobcat.  Unfortunately, the General Assembly is again moving to lift Illinois' longtime ban on hunting these beautiful and furtive creatures."

Pulling for the Cats.  --RoadDog

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lincoln Highway's Baby Bison in Illinois: First Born Wild in Nearly Two Centuries

From the April 9, 2015, Chicago Tribune "A Great Thing to See."

A bison calf was born early Monday April 6 and was pictured staying near its mother as it walks with the herd.  It was born at the Nachusa Grasslands, near Franklin Grove, Illinois, (headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association).

The site hosted what may be the first birth of a wild bison east of the Mississippi River in nearly two centuries.  The bison on this land are treated as wild animals, roaming what soon will be 1,500 acres and touched by people only once a year for a veterinary checkup.

Conservationists say bison are a crucial role in the restoration of the prairie, which once spread across 22 million acres -- about 60% -- of Illinois.

"It is a great thing to see these animals being restored to the land," one bison expert said.

"Where the Buffalo Roam."  --RoadDog

Driving Your Car to See Other Cars-- Part 8; Duesenbergs

Walking into the original art deco factory showroom transports you back 80 years.

Some of their classic cars cost over $1 million and all sit in their original surroundings.  The museum has 12 Duesenbergs, the largest private collection.  There are also a lot of Cords and Auburns. Back then, a new Ford Model A would cost $700 and could reach speeds up to 60 mph.  A Duesenberg Model SJ could hit 120 mph and cost $20,000.

They also have Indiana-built cars and a Marmon V-16, Ruxton, Studebaker Avanti, Frank Lloyd Wright's Cord L-29 and a Crosley Hot Shot.

He suggests staying afterwards at the 1928 Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park and sit on Adirondack chairs and watch the sun set over Lake James.

Sounds Like a Plan.  --RoadDog

Driving Your Car to See Other Cars-- Part 7


DESTINATION:  Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, Auburn, Indiana.

TRAVEL TIME/MILES:  From Chicago, 3 hours.  190 miles.


Casey Williams writes that this is his most favorite to enjoy with friends, an easy drive from Chicago along I-80/90 and I-69S.