Protest the destruction of a Route 66 landmark:  you can help!

Well!  At least one Route 66 roadie (that I know of, anyway) decided to let Joliet, IL City Manager Tom Thanas know that tearing down the Rich & Creamy ice cream stand at 920 N. Broadway St. would be a bad idea.  Considering that Route 66 tourists make a special stop to spend their money at the stand, which is an official Route 66 Roadside Attraction on the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, tearing down something that helps bring money and tourists into Joliet seems crazy to us.  We hope you agree.

The historic Rich & Creamy ice cream stand on Broadway St. is an official Route 66 Historic Attraction in Joliet.   Photo copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved

The historic Rich & Creamy ice cream stand on Broadway Street in Joliet, Illinois is an official Route 66 Historic Attraction.  Photo copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved

All hail to Professor Ralph Swain of Coolidge, AZ, who wrote the protest note.  The good prof, who was chair of the Humanities division at Western Iowa Tech Community College until two years ago, moved to Arizona (much closer to Route 66!) since leaving that position and currently teaches online courses in U.S. History, Native American History, Western Civilization, and History of the Viet Nam War at Western Iowa Tech, Northwest Iowa CC, Iowa Western CC, and Southwestern CC.

Like all good Route 66 fans, we greatly appreciate Prof. Swain’s effort.  Y’all don’t be shy now; you, too, can make a difference on this.  And he actually got a reply from Mr. Thanas.  Read the exchange below, then judge for yourselves what that reply is worth:  with Prof. Swain’s permission, I’m reprinting it here (please note that I’ve edited the contents here to fix typos, etc., and not embarrass the person(s) in question).  You’ll notice that nowhere in his reply does Mr. Thanas promise not to tear down the stand.  Perhaps he needs more encouragement from other Route 66 aficionados, yes?  Well, get on with it!  You can reach Mr. Thanas at:

From:  Ralph Swain
Sent:  Sunday, July 14, 2013 10:40 AM
To:  Thanas, Thomas A
Subject:  Save the Rich and Creamy ice cream stand

As a regular traveler along the entire Route 66 highway, I hope you were not serious about your comment to possibly tear down the Rich and Creamy ice cream stand.  American historical sites ARE worth preserving and certainly this small tourist attraction merits that modest amount of financing needed to keep it in shape … an amount which would be quickly amortized by the additional spending that visitors to Joliet would engage in to see this historic icon.  I am sure sufficient funding could be gathered just from donations IF the city and your office would make an announcement of its support for such a preservation effort.  The city, also could make a donation, if it possesses the heart to do so.

Ralph Swain
Professor and travel writer
Coolidge, AZ

From:  Thanas, Thomas A <>
Date:  Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 8:38 AM
Subject:  Re: Save the Rich and Creamy ice cream stand
To:  Ralph Swain

Professor Swain . . .

Thank you for the note.  I agree that Rich & Creamy is another of many iconic stops along Route 66.  I hope we are able to find a funding mechanism to save it.  Unfortunately, it needs a lot of attention, and the city’s finances are not at a stage where discretionary funding is available to cover the cost of the needed renovations.  But, I have asked my staff to work on grant opportunities that may provide some assistance in saving the structure and preserving the structure.

If you know of any funding sources, please let me know.  I like your idea of voluntary contributions . . . but the cost of renovations [is] substantial, and running a voluntary program may not generate enough funding to cover the potential costs.

Thank you for your interest in saving the ice cream store.


As always, thanks to Ron Warnick of Route 66 News for the tip-off on this story, which ran July 5th in the Joliet Herald-News.  So, all you good folks, what do you think?  Should we let this go down without a fight??  (Aw, heck, you know what the answer is.  Just do it.  Please.)  Keep those e-cards and e-letters coming, folks. In fact, feel free to make a donation … just saying.

Until next time,


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