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Vic’s Pizza in Springfield closes February 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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Vic’s Pizza and Pub, a mainstay on old Route 66 on the north side of Springfield, Ill., since 1948, recently closed its doors, reported the Springfield State Journal-Register.

The closing must have happened shortly after Valentine’s Day. Its Facebook page shows normal postings through that date, then nothing.

The newspaper reported:

“Business was slow and it caught up with us,” owner Brian Mulcahy said, referring all other questions to Marine Bank, which holds the business’s mortgage.

Springfield restaurateur Joe Rupnik said a bit of Springfield’s history passed with the closing of the business at 2025 Peoria Road, where its black-and-white checkered sign greeted travelers for decades.

“There are (Springfield) transplants when they come back to visit who have to have a Vic’s pizza, Joe (Roger’s) Chili and a horseshoe,” said Rupnik, who owned the pizza parlor for 13 years before selling it to the Mulcahy family in 2011.

The State Journal-Register also posted this bit of history:

The parlor was named after original owner Vic Fabro, who opened the business in 1948 with wife Marcy after the Springfield couple returned from visiting relatives in New York.

The Fabros brought back a souvenir — a family recipe for a homemade, thin-crust pizza dusted with cornmeal and topped with a unique sauce that became the signature dish for Vic’s Pizza.

Vic’s also served this awesome-looking “Vic’s on Route 66″ pizza in an extra-large.

(Hat tip to Dave Todd)

Elvis driving old Route 66 in Arizona February 27, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, History, Music, People, Road trips.
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There’s not much of a description to this video, except we know it’s primarily Elvis Presley visiting Meteor Crater off Route 66 in Arizona in June 1967. All of the footage appears to be home movies.

You’ll also see glimpses the American Indian souvenir shops — including Chief Yellowhorse‘s — at the New Mexico-Arizona state line, and Presley goofing around with his pals during a roadside smoking break.

Apparently this is the source of the footage.

Presley made regular road trips in that area during the 1960s, either to shoot movies in California or play gigs in Las Vegas. He’d hook up with Route 66 in Oklahoma City after leaving from Memphis.

Presley stayed at the Trade Winds Motel in Clinton, Okla., at least four times, and it still has his favorite Room 215, known as the Elvis Room.

Presley also ate at the Porter House Diner in Weatherford, Okla., and signed the guest book there. The long-closed diner — with its guestbook — now resides at the Heartland of America Heritage Museum in Weatherford.

(A modern-day view of Meteor Crater by Julius Whittington via Flickr)

Williams committees send mixed messages to Route 66 Zipline February 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Towns.
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By tomorrow, we should know whether the Route 66 Zipline will continue to run in Williams, Ariz. Recent votes by two commissions offer little guidance on how the city council will vote.

That’s because the Historic Preservation Commission unanimously voted earlier this month to deny the business a special-use permit. However, the Planning and Zoning Commission days later unanimously voted to approve the permit with special conditions attached.

The City Council probably will sort this out at 7 p.m. Thursday.

During the historic commission’s meeting, the main objection was the zipline didn’t “fit in” with downtown’s old-fashioned character. Yvette Hudson cited the city’s building code in her opposition:

“(The zone) is also intended that new or remodeled buildings, located within zoned historic districts, be designed and constructed to harmonize with buildings located within the immediate vicinity in order to preserve property values, to provide for future development and to promote an awareness of the heritage of Williams, Arizona among residents of and visitors to the community.”

However, just two residents at the meeting objected to the zipline continuing operations and seven favored giving the business another year. Thomas Ross, owner of I-40 Fleet Services, gave his reasons on why the zipline should stick around:

He added that the zipline might encourage people to make a loop around Route 66, seeing more than the usual ‘T’ they see from coming down Grand Canyon Boulevard and walking a short ways in each direction on Route 66.

“If people got to walk down to the end of the block to get on the zipline to ride, maybe they’ll cross over where the gas station is and they’ll pick up, ‘Oh look there’s some more souvenir shops’ and work their way back around,” he said.

At the planning and zoning meeting, the commission added these conditions to their votes in favor of the zipline:

The first was that the zipline company remove the white lettering on the tall poles that does not meet city regulations. The second was obtaining a performance bond, “in terms of protecting the city in case the organization becomes insolvent that we would be able to recover the damage,” Smiley explained.

It seems the performance bond became more of a priority after Route 66 Zipline didn’t generate much business as its owners forecast.

Planning commission chairman Buck Williams said he received six letters in favor of the zipline and one against.

Then Thomas Ross spoke up with an instructive comment — that many historical attractions on Route 66 were designed to get people “to pull over”:

“The zipline I think sort of fits in with our theme in Williams and along with Route 66, not just because of the old cars and the 50s and 60s music,” he said. “It kind of makes people take a break, and stop, and it’s just one more thing to do while you’re in Williams.”

Jerry Anthony added a related comment:

“What pays most of our salaries and our living and our way of life in Williams? Tourism,” he said. “And what draws tourism in? Attractions.”

I’ll admit to being indifferent to the zipline when it came to Williams and remaining so when it was voted on by the historic commission. But Ross’ remark provided a valuable reminder — that Route 66 isn’t unique just because of historic preservation, but also due to its kitsch factor.

The concrete dinosaurs in Holbrook, Ariz., the half-buried Cadillacs in Amarillo, the 66-foot-tall pop bottle in Arcadia, Okla., and a big blue whale in Catoosa, Okla., are as much a part of the Mother Road as its historic structures. And a few of them — such as the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, Calif. — are kitschy and on the National Register of Historic Places.

UPDATE 3/4/2014: The Williams City Council passed a compromise with the zipline’s owner so it would stay for two more years.

UPDATE 3/26/2014: The City Council approved a new lease with the zipline company, where its rent will double.

A report on Route 66 in mid-Missouri February 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Television.
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The Ozarks News Journal produced this short video that looks at the past and future of Route 66 in mid-Missouri, particularly the Lebanon area.

Ramona Lehman, co-owner of the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, plays a significant role in the clip.

Route 66 PKG Vimeo 720p from Ozarks News Journal on Vimeo.

(Image of the Bob and Ramona Lehman at their Munger Moss Motel by the Missouri Department of Tourism via Flickr)

Fire destroys St. Clair museum February 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Museums.
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A fire Sunday night destroyed a century-old building in downtown St. Clair, Mo., that housed the St. Clair Historical Museum, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Washington Missourian.

The museum at 280 Hibbard St. stood about two blocks south of Route 66, and it housed a Route 66 exhibit. The building previously was an Odd Fellows lodge.

KTVI-TV in St. Louis had a video report.

The tour director Patsy Todd gave the Post-Dispatch an inventory of what was lost in the fire:

A doctor’s bag, stethoscope and pill bottles from a physician who made housecalls and delivered 5,000 babies in the early 1900s. Indian artifacts. Old schoolhouse pictures. An old hoosier cabinet and washboard in a kitchen from 1928. An original $10 confederate bill. A 1913 bank ledger and the desk the first bank president sat in.

Mementos from the International Shoe Factory that was built in town in 1923. The town had raised money to build the factory. Women baked pies to auction. The original time clock used at the shoe factory and some shoes from that era burned in the fire.

The Route 66 display burned up, too. It was along a wall about nine feet long and included a glass case with photographs of businesses along what had been a gravel road. One restaurant had a sign advertising a chicken and dumplings dinner for 75 cents. […]

She added: “I’m just crying and praying that we can get another place and rebuild.”

A firefighter suspected a squirrel chewed through an electrical wire in the attic, causing the fire.

The Post-Dispatch also had a slide show of the blaze and firefighters trying to salvage historical items.

(Hat tip: Gordon Radford)

“Route 66″ on a cigar-box guitar February 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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David Vidal shows what he can do with Bobby Troup’s “Route 66″ on a cigar-box guitar (with a resonator) and a harmonica.

As I’ve long note, Troup’s tune is endlessly malleable.

(Video by Ace Jackalope)

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