Route 66 recap:  Berwyn Route 66 Car Show, Hodgkins Quarry Days

Oh my, so much fun at the Berwyn Route 66 Car Show on Saturday the 7th – and even more this year than last, probably because we made a decision not to take 200 or 300 shots of all the cars.  That actually gave us more opportunity to look around and enjoy things!  ;D

But seriously:  optimizing all those photos last year took forever, and we’re still working on the book manuscript, so we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and got picky about what we shot.  Alas, our third had to babysit his daughter (better luck next year, Keith), but Joe and I made a complete day of it.  It was a busy day, too, given that we started off in Hodgkins at Quarry Days and visited with the folks at the new Hodgkins Historical Society Museum on Kane Street.  It’s in the former village hall and firehouse.  Saturday at Quarry Days was the museum’s debut and open house.  The staff hadn’t quite managed to get the entire collection on display in time, but based on what was on display, it’s going to be beautiful when it’s all up and running.  Thanks to Sue Cappa for giving us a tour and to Mayor Cummings for posing for us.

Mayor Cummings and Sue Cappa of the Hodgkins Historical Society smile at the museum's open house during Quarry Days 2013.  Photo copyright 2013 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved

Mayor Cummings of Hodgkins, IL and Sue Cappa of the Hodgkins Historical Society smile at the museum’s open house during Quarry Days 2013. Photo copyright 2013 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved

Speaking of tours, our early-morning stop in Hodgkins included an air-conditioned bus ride down into the Vulcan quarry that straddles the closed part of Joliet Road.  The quarry’s so big that its east end is in McCook and the west is in Hodgkins.  We rode down into the section south of Joliet Road.  And this is a good time for an update:  the Deep Tunnel folks (better known as the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago) have decided that the two quarries on either side of Joliet Road won’t be used as temporary overflow storage for rainwater runoff after storms after all.  McCook wailed loud and long that it didn’t want to live next to the largest toilet bowl in the state (even though only a token amount of actually sewage would be let into the runoff reservoir with all the rainwater), so the sanitary district and Vulcan cut a deal whereby Vulcan is digging a new quarry where some of the sludge ponds used to be, further south on the bank of the Des Plaines River.

This summer, all the 20-feet-deep topsoil from that area went on a two-mile-long conveyor and into the pit on the north side of the closed part of Joliet Road, where the former Stinson Airport used to be.  It may take 10 or 20 years, but that northern pit will eventually be filled in again; there’s also a slim chance that that might stabilize the roadbed again and allow that closed section to be reopened, but I wouldn’t count on that just yet.  A lot of testing would have to be done to ensure the road’s safety, even after all that rock and dirt piled back into the pit finally settled.  You wouldn’t believe just how deep that pit is; having been down in its twin, I can tell you that 350 feet looks a lot deeper when you’re near the edge looking down than when you’re at the bottom looking up.

Berwyn Route 66 Car Show

Tony Melone, owner of a classic ‘spectator’ painted car, poses with a fan at the 2013 Berwyn Route 66 Car Show. Photo copyright 2013 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved.

We also spent more time this year hanging out with fellow roadies we know, like Jon Fey of the Berwyn Route 66 Museum, all the folks from Pontiac (i.e., the Route 66 Association of Illinois) and our dear pal, Stacy Conn of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway down in Springfield.  This year, Stacy was without her boss, Bill Kelly – but in his place was the guy who owns the classic car that adorns the cover of the byway’s Visitor’s Guide:  Tony Melone of Elmhurst, who was there with his classic two-tone Buick parked right next to the byway’s tent on Ogden.  Honestly, a paint job that looks like a shiny new pair of beige and brown spectator pumps, right down to the portholes on the sides.  You should’ve seen all the folks who stopped to have their pix taken with Tony’s car!  Way cool, dude.

Of course, Stacy and I had to do the same – and as you can see below, we were quite pleased with ourselves (thank you, Joe, for shooting that with my camera!).  Tony’s car will be on display again at the end of the month at the Mother Road fest in downtown Springfield on the 28th and 29th, so if you want to see it up close, be there or be square and look for the byway’s tent (the car will probably be nearby).

Stacy Conn of the IL Route 66 Scenic Byway (L) and yours truly at the 2013  Berwyn Route 66 Car Show.  Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved.

Stacy Conn of the IL Route 66 Scenic Byway (L) and yours truly at the 2013 Berwyn Route 66 Car Show. Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved.

The three of us also had a good giggle over that boy-band, Wired Soul.  Boy sopranos, every last one; not a tenor among them.  Those kids played with conviction, I’ll give ’em that, but when you know they’re singing songs their parents or grandparents made out to when they were teens, it’s just too funny.  And not remotely credible.  Sorry, boys.  Maybe The Crown Vics can play longer next year.

Toward the end of the day, many of the custom and classic cars departed down Ogden for the car cruise 10 minutes away in Hodgkins.  Having already been there, Joe went home but Stacy and I went in search of the best barbecued (as in smoked) wings in Berwyn at Ronnie Lottz’s Cigars and Stripes BBQ Lounge.  The music was enthusiastic and deafening in the parking lot, where people had been feasting all day long during the car show as Ronnie’s place was right in the thick of it.  We, on the other hand, sought a bit quieter spot inside to talk, drink and eat.  We were actually in search of Ronnie, too, whom we finally found at the end of the night.

Did we mention the awesome nitro fuel fire tail demonstration earlier in the day?  NO? Well, you had to be there.  And honestly, you don’t want to be that close to it.  But it sure was impressive.  In fact, everything this year looked just about bigger and better than last year, which in itself was hard to top.  Makes you wonder how the organizers are going to outdo themselves next year, yes?  But really:  it’s the cars that make the show.  And that means it’s all up to you, folks, so start planning for next year!  But before you do that, there’s still the Mother Road festival in Springfield on Sept. 28-29.  You can truck your proud vehicles down for that before tucking them away at the end of the season.

We”l have the winners list next time.

Until next time,


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