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From Pops to POPS August 31, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Preservation, Sports.
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To help restore a vintage Route 66 neon sign, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association is hosting a poker run on Saturday, Sept. 15.

The event begins at the site of the defunct Pop Hicks restaurant at North Third and Gary Boulevard in Clinton, Okla., and goes east on Route 66 to POPS in Arcadia, Okla.

Money raised during the poker run will go toward restoring the Rio Siesta Motel sign, which stood on Route 66 on the east edge of Clinton until a windstorm blew it down. Once refurbished, the sign will be donated to the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton. Here’s what the sign looked like when it was still standing.

Registration on the day of the poker run is from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Passports must be turned in at POPS by 2 p.m. that day.

Entry fee is $20 a person or $35 per couple, with additional passports costing $15 apiece.

Those who register before Sept. 10 receive an Oklahoma Route 66 pen and sticker for the windshield. Make checks payable to “Save the Rio Sign” and mail to P.O. Box 1733, Clinton, OK 73601, along with your name, address, phone number and number of passports needed. For information, call 580-323-2113.

Book review: “Macoupin County on Route 66″ August 30, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, History, Photographs, Towns.

“Macoupin County on Route 66,” with text and photo compilations by Dennis Garrels, is yet another historical volume about the Mother Road by Arcadia Publishing. That includes “Route 66 in California” and the recently published “Route 66 in Chicago.”

“Macoupin County on Route 66″ (96 pages, $19.95) covers Macoupin County, Ill., which boasts not one, but two prominent alignments of Route 66. From 1926 to 1930, Illinois Highway 4 also was Route 66. Then Route 66 was moved some miles east, clipping the southern portion of the county. Macoupin County includes the Route 66 towns of Carlinville, Staunton, Benld, Sawyerville, Mount Olive, Virden, Girard and Gillespie.

Garrels’ book mainly consists of then-and-now photographs of sites in those towns. It’s much like the format used in the “Route 66 Lost and Found” books. Chapters center around hotels, train stations, churches, schools, restaurants and businesses.

You see miners gathering at the Chicago-Virden coal mine in 1898, a little more than an hour before a shootout between them and guards for strike-busting workers killed 12 people. Now, there is little evidence of the mine or the riot, except for a set of railroad tracks.

There also is a picture of workers in 1936 building the Mother Jones Monument in Mount Olive. An astounding 50,000 people attended the dedication for monument for the union organizer and the workers killed at the Virden riot. The monument is still there today.

Route 66ers will love the circa-1940 photograph of Bill Neuhaus’ Texaco station on Route 66 in Staunton. The station itself isn’t much bigger than many bedrooms, but it was a gem of architecture. It later was expanded, and it’s now a custom cabinet shop. The book contains several other photographs of Route 66 gas stations from the 1920s and ’30s that are long gone.

The book shows the erratic effects of time. Carlinville still has many of its historic buildings and continues to prosper. But few old buildings remain in Sawyerville, which now has fewer than 200 residents. Still other buildings were lost in parts of the county during a tornado in the late 1940s.

The book is not without shortcomings. Sometimes the text accompanying photographs doesn’t explain from what town it’s taken. I’m also a little surprised the dozens of historic Sears homes in Carlinville weren’t mentioned. Also, the author made the curious decision to include a number of photographs from Bunker Hill, which never was on Route 66.

Still, “Macoupin County on Route 66″ is a quick, fun read. I suspect that Mother Road fans who live in central Illinois will find a lot of enjoyment with it.

Return to the road August 30, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Motorcycles, Road trips.
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Last year, cancer survivor Rodger Fox of Jacksonville, Ill., and a small group of other motorcycle riders drove all of Route 66 for the Ride for the Relay cancer-research fundraiser.

Fox had so much fun, he’s doing it again. This year’s 12-day Ride for the Relay, which will generate money for the Tri-County Relay for Life in Jacksonville and the American Cancer Society, begins in Chicago on Saturday.

Reports the Springfield (Ill.) Journal-Register:

“Last year, I left Chicago (on his 1985 Honda Gold Wing 1500 with matching trailer) by myself,” he said recently. “This year, Carl Johnson, the Route 66 historian for Illinois and Missouri, will accompany me through St. Louis, and we will have at least eight or so other riders, from California, Louisiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, go with us all the way.

“We may have 40 to 50 people leave Chicago with us for different stretches.”

Fox’s fundraising goal is $10,000. Ride for the Relay’s Web site is here. Anyone interested in joining Fox for the ride or making a donation can call him at 217-473-1525 or by e-mailing [email protected]

Send Owen Wilson a card August 28, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, People.

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been reported that actor Owen Wilson was hospitalized on Sunday.

Through his publicist, Wilson on Monday requested privacy so he can recuperate. And his parents and brothers were with him at the hospital, so it appears he’s getting the support he needs from family.

Wilson will always earn a fond spot in many Route 66ers’ hearts because he played Lightning McQueen in last summer’s Disney-Pixar animated movie, “Cars.” The film shined a welcome spotlight on the Mother Road, and Wilson played a key role.

I figured that Route 66 aficionados and business owners would like to send Wilson a get-well card, or a friendly message on a Route 66 postcard. I e-mailed Matt Walker, the assistant to his publicist, asking him whether there was a snail-mail address to send such messages.

He replied that he’ll collect the cards and messages for Wilson if they’re mailed here:

Matt Walker
8409 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

So there it is. If you want to spread a little of the magic of the Mother Road, you know what to do.

Can anyone translate? August 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Restaurants.
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Levi provides a video report about POPS on Route 66 in Arcadia, Okla. But I have no idea what he thinks, because his thoughts are expressed in American Sign Language.

So … can anyone give a rough translation of what he’s saying?

The video also contains a few still photographs of what’s inside POPS.

Poolside kicks August 26, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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This is a band of apparent high-schoolers called Just in Time 2, which according to the YouTube poster is based in Great Britain. The singer misses a cue, and a few sour notes are heard. But the piano player sounds like he’s been taking lessons from Johnnie Johnson, and it’s hard to resist the sense of fun while the group is performing “Route 66″ during a poolside show.

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