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Archive for the ‘Route 66’ Category

DSCN6601Signs.

Sometimes they are just signs. Other times, they lead us to places, to action to awareness, to posts . . .

In a comment on my recent post about the passing of Tom Magliozzi of Car Talk, Debra, over at Breathlighter, wondered about my use of the term “filling station”. The very next day, walking west on Adams toward Union Station in downtown Chicago, I passed this sign. “Whoa, girl, slow down” said my inner self as the notorious Chicago wind whipped around the corner. “Go check out that sign”.   

So there I was, whipping my camera out faster than you can say “windy city“, strains from a street musician echoing down the urban cavern of ell tracks, skyscrapers, and congestion.  No one looked at me as I took the photo. Most were business attired with attaché cases walking with monetary purpose hurrying along the city’s financial district.  I momentarily wondered how many even realized the sign was there. At any rate, tourists are always taking photos in the Loop, though I don’t think many capture this particular sign – or know the connection between this sign and a friend on the terminus end of the Route 66.  Debra, who lives in California, regularly serves up enlightening posts about the history of California, water wars, tar pits, and more. the very same Debra who just asked, the previous day, a question about the term “filling stations.”

I wondered, right then, as I took a picture signifying the approximate location where the legendary Route 66 began, if Debra was motoring past a similar sign on the other end of Route 66.

With a train to catch in Union Station, I put my camera back in my purse and pushed once more against the wind. Once seated in my Metra carriage, homebound, I thought again about filling stations and writing a series of posts about filling stations, family, cookbooks and such, all related to how we used to travel.  I would like to start today with filling stations.

As I mentioned to Debra, a filling station is an older term, probably centered in the midwestern states during the middle of the 20th century. It refers to places where drivers could fill their cars with gasoline. They are now most commonly called gas stations. Since so many of you are not only hugging both coasts of the United States, but, are also across the pond and down under, I’m hoping you will share what you call the place where you buy the fuel for your cars.

Why don’t you talk here amongst yourselves, sharing your gas related thoughts (no, not THAT kind of gas) while I compose another post about Tom’s father and uncles and their oil company, or, maybe a post about the Ford Motor Company and cookbooks and, well, we’ll see where the signs lead.

 

Postscript: See what you started, Debra, with your inquisitive mind?  As I was writing this, ’round about 9 am on this Saturday morn, I realized that the sun was probably just rising along your end of Route 66.  Here’s a tune to start your day. 

 

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The most pleasurable moments in my life are often consumed around a table, eating a good meal, talking, laughing, remembering “when”. Such pleasure was had on Saturday night, dining with family on several familial sides, from two East Coast states, as we met at one of the most venerable restaurants still operating on Route 66.

You might remember when I first wrote about the Mother Road, Route 66, a few years ago, citing its starting point on Chicago’s lakefront, which is but a few dozen miles from our house here on the Cutoff.  Several of you commented about time you spent on the “mother road”. Others of you realized, perhaps, that it was more than a television show or tall tale; it was a road often traveled, traversing the wide open spaces of another era. Route 66 was a route, now decommissioned, that connected small towns and bits of wonders across the wide expanse of USA country. I meant to write again about this iconic route, but, well, life took other turns in my writing road, until this weekend.

Along with brother-in-law Mike, in from the Sunshine State, and nephew Andrew’s brother and sister-in-law, from the Big Apple, eleven of us gathered at White Fence Farm in Romeoville, on old Route 66,  for a sinfully scrumptious meal, served family style, with corn fritters, slaw, pickled beets, cottage cheese, bean salad – and, the restaurant’s signature fried chicken.

It was heartwarming to not only catch-up on what was happening in our lives, but, to have our two grand-nephews participate in the lively art of family conversation as they laughed at grown-up’s stories, all entertaining, others downright hilarious (like grandpa Mike’s articulate rendition of his dog’s encounter with peacock droppings or late night stand offs with a gecko – uh oh).

Good memories were gathered to keep close to the heart along with a few photos of all that was consumed, including a few cute chickens among the antiques and memorabilia in White Fence Farm.

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DSCN0894Zoobies. Have you heard of them? They are famous characters of kiddie lit that have blankets hidden inside. I almost bought Corduroy Bear for myself, though the Llama in his pajamas was awfully cuddlesome and the Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar was a temptation, I must confess.

We had, you see, the pleasure of attending a “family and friends” night before the grand opening of a new business in La Grange. It has been a while since we’ve been to an opening, and longer still since it involved toys.

I didn’t want to leave.

We were excited to hear that Becca and Nathan, along with Becca’s mom Leah, were opening a “green” store  and delighted to go to the event, which was not only filled with toys and books and other items, but with a crowd of supportive family and friends – and lots of children discovering new toys. You can imagine the happy chaos of that, can’t you?

Eco Maniac of La Grange is on the main thoroughfare through town, La Grange Road (also known as Mannheim a little further north and Route 45 throughout. La Grange Road also hooks up to historic Route 66). It is a most perfect location for such a store, nestled in among other independent shops, the La Grange Theater and restaurants. But, I digress. I want to tell you about the store in which items that are green, sustainable, organic, and repurposed are sold.

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Also found within Eco Maniac’s bright rooms are jewelry, clothes, and just the thing for a little gift, a stocking stuffer, perhaps, or maybe a little something to wear to a costume party.

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I wish all the best for Eco Maniac in La Grange. I admire their leap of faith in opening a new store in this quivering economy and I applaud their respect for our little planet in their choice of merchandise. I can’t wait to go back, which I will do just as soon as I find where Tom hid the car keys.

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We get our kicks on Route 66. Not “kicks’, exactly, but Kix Cereal. You see, about a mile or so from the Cutoff, sitting on old Route 66, is a store where we buy groceries. Another mile or so east sits one of the many Historic Route 66 signs that dot the United States. As we hit a slight rise in the pavement, the magnificent skyline of Chicago comes into view. Some twenty miles away sits Buckingham Fountain, the gateway to Lake Michigan and the symbolic beginning of Route 66.

This now historic two lane highway once took travelers from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, ending in Santa Monica. Route 66 was the 2,451 mile Mother Road to a better life for many and the great migration west; those escaping the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression, seeking jobs in the fertile fields of Southern California, looking for wartime employment, or the glamour and excitement of Hollywood.

Route 66 wound around and through small towns and large, from the midwest to the southwest and the Pacific Coast, It brought tourists to their diners and motels, offered a place to settle down and start a family, or provided the opportunity to see local attractions as more and more people began to own cars. This long stretch of highway and the cars that rode on it helped support the economy of many towns. When the interstate highway system was completed and Route 66 was decommissioned as a highway, many towns and villages suffered economically, changing the way of life for many.

Many of us remember Dinah Shore as she blew us all a kiss each week from her television show and encouraged us all to “see the USA in your Chevrolet”

Then there were these two fellows on the television series, Route 66. They made young girls’ hearts go pit-a-pat each week as they drove the cars that all the fellows longed for – and still do.

When I first left home for college, we drove Route 66 to Normal, Illinois. I will always remember that first trip to school, my dad behind the wheel, my mom trying to keep a stiff upper-lip, my own mixed emotions at leaving home for the first time. We drove out of the Chicago suburbs,  past cornfields, Joliet, more cornfields, on and on. It seemed forever, until we approached Dwight and the first stop light from Chicago. There was a diner at the light were we often stopped for coffee and a piece of pie.

As long as I’m riding along on the memory lane of Route 66, I should mention the Dixie Truck Stop near Funk’s Grove. Heading toward Springfield, they had some mighty tasty hamburgers and interesting people to watch. I believe it is still in operation, though with new owners. More “kicks on Route 66” through part of Illinois. The phrase was first made popular by Nat King Cole. It is fun to listen to as he sings about all the places the Mother Road passes.

Do you have any memories of Route 66?

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Saturday’s road trip had the pioneering feel of the Little House on the Prairie books. Maybe it was the aura of visiting the Burr Oak/Laura Ingalls Wilder site earlier this month.  There we were, Ma and Pa, off to market in the buckboard. Okay, it wasn’t a buckboard. It was our 21st century mocha colored VW with a latte interior. We were loaded down with provisions. Well, not really provisions. A cooler with soda and granola bars and apples. Does the bottled water count as provisions? The sun was our guide as we headed southwest. I know, it was really the GPS system/mapquest/google earth that we navigated by. We didn’t want to get lost.

The rattling started as we merged onto Route 66. Well, not really Route 66. The interstate that replaced it. Interstate 55. The rattle was real. As we accelerated, we heard a thumping sound that seemed to come from the rear. Pa pulled over to check those things Pas check when it sounds like the wheels of the buggy are coming off. The wheels, er, tires, were just fine, and off we went again, only to hear the rattling again at about 55 mph. Pa suspected a loose belt, while Ma fretted that her own belt was too tight. A little more horsepower, and the rattling abated.

I didn’t hear the honking horn, nor did I see the driver motioning to Pa and pointing to the roof of our mocha machine. I was surprised when Pa pulled over, emergency lights flashing. “Well, Ma,” says Pa, “that driver was pointing and had his fingers up to his ears like he was trying to tell me something”. Was it a seatbelt hanging out? A walnut hidden for the hard winter by a squirrel? A branch, perhaps, from the grass where we have been parking the car while the tar dries? What in tarnation was it?

Pa poked his head in and said “open the sunroof”. Huh? “Just open the sunroof, Ma”. So, open it I did. A bit of a sound, then Pa’s handsome but sheepish face peaking in.

The rubberized cover of Pa’s iPhone, which had inadvertently been left on the roof of the mochamobile while Pa was loading provisions, had, just barely, gotten stuck in the trim of the sunroof, where it rattled away at the posted speed limit, hanging on for dear life. Did you know that was an iPhone application? *** UPDATE BELOW

Enough excitement for one post. I’ll tell you about our  arrival at the 3 French Hens Market and then to the prairie later. In-the-meantime, make sure when you are loading up your buggy for a ride that you leave nothing to chance – not even your iPhone.

*** It was the entire iPhone that was on the roof. The edge of the cover was what saved the phone from oblivion.

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