Route 66 calendar update:  Rivet Motors’ land jet takes off, car shows, cruise nights & more


Hello again, fellow roadies!  Well, we didn’t expect to be updating the calendar again so soon, but there have been more events added – and one change.  As you may already know if you tried to attend (as we did), the Romeoville Route 66 Car and Bike Show a few weekends ago was postponed due to the rainy weather.  Wow, there’s been so much of that here lately that Chicago is beginning to look like Seattle.  We’re waiting to see if Showcase Classics, the organizer, will reschedule the Romeoville show within the foreseeable future, most likely at Romeoville High School again.  Watch this blog for further details.

Also:  Did you know that the irrepressible actor and motorcycle fan William Shatner (yeah, that William Shatner, the one from the original Star Trek TV series and films, The Practice, Boston Legal, etc.) will begin a cross-country tour on June 23rd down the length of Route 66 on a new vehicle dubbed the Rivet One ‘land jet’?  Yes, indeed:  it’s a kind of streamlined, steampunk-style trike, with a detachable cockpit cover for bad weather.  Very different from anything he seemed to have piloted/helmed for the Star Trek franchise!

Apparently, all the futuristic stuff is under the hood this time.  The three-wheeled bike, which has some serious power (a V8 engine) between the driver and the front wheel, was designed by the folks at Rivet Motors – with input from Shatner – and American Wrench, an Aurora, IL-based custom motorcycle firm.   American Wrench has built bikes for others, including rock singers (e.g., Creed) and the guys on the Chopper cable TV program.  American Wrench is, in turn, owned by Illinois Auto Electric Co. (founded 1915), for which American Wrench’s Kevin Sirotek is VP of marketing and a fourth-generation stakeholder (that tells us it’s probably a family firm).  Their shop is located in an industrial area near IL 59 and Liberty Street, only a few blocks from Aurora’s Fox Valley shopping center.

Rivet Motors land jet, made in Aurora, IL  for a Route 66 road trip with William Shatner (no, seriously).

Rivet Motors land jet, made in Aurora, IL for a Route 66 road trip to be undertaken by William Shatner (no, seriously). (Illustration courtesy of Rivet Motors and American Wrench)

Continue reading

Route 66 history:  Lawndale’s Dr. M. L. King Legacy Apartments


Today is the anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.  If you haven’t already done or participated in something to celebrate, there’s a memorial concert tonight in downtown Chicago (see the end of this article) … or, if you’re not up for going out, you can read this blog post about an interesting side trip off of Route 66 that honors Dr. King.

The apartment building at 1550 S. Hamlin Ave. that Dr. and Mrs. King moved into in Chicago's Lawndale area in January 1966.

The apartment building at 1550 S. Hamlin Ave. that Dr. and Mrs. King moved into in Chicago’s Lawndale area  (photo circa January 1966).

Once upon a time back during the winter of 1966, civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Chicago to raise awareness of the appalling, restrictive housing situation of Chicago’s black residents.  To do that, he moved that January into an apartment in North Lawndale on Chicago’s impoverished West Side.  The apartment building he chose was located at 1550 S. Hamlin Ave., about four blocks north of U.S. Route 66.

Dr. and Mrs. King didn’t stay there long that cold January – only about eight months, staying there a few nights a week from winter through late summer – and all the furniture they used while they resided there was obtained from a Salvation Army second-hand store.  The Kings’ rent on Hamlin Avenue was $90 a month – which was $10 more per month than what white residents paid for a comparable apartment in other areas of the city, yet the apartment and the building it was in were in much worse condition.  In the end, Dr. King’s historic stay in Lawndale may have raised the profile of the housing problem and the nation’s consciousness, but it didn’t make any difference insofar as getting more affordable housing built in Chicago.  That came much, much later.

Continue reading

Route 66 scoop:  WOW, new Burr Ridge historical mural features Rt 66, Lyonsville, Flagg Creek, more


A new historical mural for Flagg Creek Heritage Society is being painted on the sides of the society’s home and museum, which ought to improve the cinder-block building’s appearance no end.  Chicago artist John Howard is hard at work on the mural even as you read this, executing the work on three sides of the building (for now, the back end and part of the north side will simply remain blank, painted with a pale yellow base coat).  Howard began the work on July 1 and says he expects the work to be done by Labor Day, if not the end of August.  FCHS has tentatively scheduled a dedication ceremony for Sunday afternoon, October 5th between 2 pm and 4 pm.  More details on that later as they become available.

The historical society’s home is in Walker Park at 7425 S. Wolf Road, part of the Pleasant Dale Park District in Burr Ridge, just south of Joliet Road/Historic Route 66.  Actually, the museum building is tucked in between the basketball courts and a children’s playground at the northern end of the field house’s north parking lot.  Previously, if you didn’t know exactly where to find the museum – which, to be fair, looked like a storage hut or a cement garage – you might have easily missed it, given that the field house (better known as the rec center) has two parking lots, one on either side, and Walker Park is huge for a suburban park (check out the area on Google Maps satellite view here).

Just a couple of regular guys:  muralist John Howard (L) and our own Joe Kubal  (Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Just a couple of regular guys:  muralist John Howard (L), at work on the wall, and our own Joe Kubal pose before the untitled mural.  (Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Continue reading

The Berwyn Route 66 Museum get its groove on


My colleague Joe Kubal and I were in Berwyn yesterday when we thought we’d stop by the Berwyn Route 66 Museum and see what’s up with Jon Fey and his staff. Glad we did.

WOW – what a difference inside from 10 months ago! Those folks have really made progress in organizing the materials and putting up displays. It really looks like a museum now. Someone’s been putting a lot of sweat equity into this and deserves credit.

Copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved

Continue reading