NOTE: More updates to this story have been started on another thread here.
A few days ago, presidential candidate Barack Obama stopped at the Bell Restaurant in the Route 66 town of Lebanon, Mo., during a campaign swing through the Ozarks.
Kay McKimm was manning the cash register when an afternoon visitor walked through the door and asked for a map so he could find his way to Bennett Spring State Park.
“I saw him and I couldn’t believe the resemblance, so I asked him, ‘Are you who I think you are?’ He said, ‘Who do you think I am?’ so I said, ‘Paul McCartney?’ and he said, ‘No’ but I think that’s because there were other people in the store,” said McKimm.
After his denial, McKimm said she pressed the former Beatle look-alike, and since the squeaky wheel gets the grease, Sir Paul decided it was time to confess.
“I asked him for his autograph, and he gave it to me. He was very nice. He was here for about 15 minutes. He didn’t want to stay very long. He probably didn’t want you guys (the press) to know about him,” she said.
McKimm said she took a picture of the one-time mop top with two couples from out-of-town that were in the store at the time, but admits she was too flustered to get her own pictures of McCartney.
“He was driving a green SUV-type vehicle, and there was a lady in the front seat, but I couldn’t tell who she was,” she said.
I sure hope the pictures that the couples shots of the McCartney doppleganger turn up. They might go a long way to verifying whether the fellow was the former Beatle.
And lest anyone finds it unlikely that McCartney would be in a rural part of the Show-Me State should be reminded that band mate George Harrison spent a few weeks in small-town Benton, Ill., in 1963.
UPDATE: This is starting to get interesting. As roadie Peter Stork reports in the comments, there also was a McCartney sighting at the Joliet museum and at a Springfield, Ill., gas station on Saturday. He’s a photo of McCartney at the gas station.
The Daily Mail in England goes further, saying that McCartney and Shevell are taking Route 66 all the way to Santa Monica.
A source said: ‘The road trip was Nancy’s idea as a way of them getting to bond and spend time together – just the two of them.’
UPDATE2: It seems appropriate to add this to the post:
UPDATE3: Roadie Joe Sonderman reports that McCartney was spotted at Bartolino’s restaurant in St. Louis on Saturday.
While at Joliet’s museum, McCartney signed just two autographs – a personal one for Stonich, and another on a posterboard of the Route 66 shield Stonich keeps as a guest log.
On that one, he wrote “P McCartney London, England, .U.K.” all of it printed, except for the word “London,” which was written in cursive.
UPDATE6: Illinois Route 66 preservationist Lenore Weiss talked to one of the volunteers at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. She passed this along about McCartney’s visit:
He and his ladyfriend came into the Rt. 66 Experience, sat down and watched part of the video, then walked around checking out the various fun things in the Welcome Center. (Other visitors began recognizing Paul and asked Elaine. She told them they were respecting his privacy, leaving him alone, and not letting anyone bother him.) He went upstairs, checked out the Joliet Museum, restroom, etc., then went into the gift shop and talked with Elaine. Before leaving he shook her hand, gave her an autograph and she gave him a Rt. 66 Goody Bag just like she does all of our tourists.
UPDATE7: Longtime roadie Dave Hoekstra of the Chicago Sun-Times has written an excellent column about McCartney’s trip on the Mother Road and the road itself.
The everlasting memory of my 1991 trip down Route 66 was the way I reconnected with the basic goodness of people. I was 36 and maybe something of a hot shot. The summertime trip from Chicago to Santa Monica, Ca. was a refresher course on how to listen to strangers, trust your heart and slow down.
How great is it that Paul McCartney and his girl friend Nancy Shevell are checking out Route 66?
Maybe I’m amazed.
UPDATE8: Dave Bakke of the Springfield (Ill.) Journal-Register writes about the media frenzy that ensued since the McCartney sighting at a gas station there. And after comparing some photos taken at the station, the newspaper became nearly certain the former Beatle was there before other media outlets confirmed it.
UPDATE9: WGN-TV in Chicago interviews the man who briefly met McCartney at the Springfield, Ill., gas station.