Route 66 news flash:  The Berghoff will be sold — but it’s staying in the family

Before you could say “Oh no, Mr. Bill!” momentary panic broke out when the Chicago Tribune announced yesterday that the Berghoff Restaurant and Café, a Chicago landmark, was to be sold – but then relief hit once we realized that it’s staying in the family.

Carlyn Berghoff, great-granddaughter of founder Herman Berghoff and CEO of the company that operates both the restaurant and Berghoff Catering, is retiring at age 55.  Although she started out as a caterer, Ms. Berghoff bought the restaurant a few months after her parents had closed it (again, they were retiring) and intended to use it as a space for private events – but former customers kept asking her if the restaurant had reopened.  Eventually, bowing to customer demand, she reopened the restaurant/bar and downstairs café in 2006.

Berghoff's neon sign (MRTraska) - 600px, 150dpi - blog

The Berghoff’s trademark neon sign (Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

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Route 66 update:  We’re in the news!  (Well, kind of …)

Thank you to Dave Blanchette, reporter for the State Journal-Register in Springfield, for interviewing me (and quoting me correctly!) for a story on the Route 66: Road Ahead project’s new contest for getting the group a new name and slogan.  Their name really is a mouthful, so I wish them well on that.  And double thanks to Dave for mentioning this blog with a link in the online version of the story — very kind indeed.  There’s just one thing, and it’ll probably be corrected by the time you find that story:  he mistakenly listed friend of this blog Keith Sculle, fellow IGS member, as one of my two co-authors for our Route 66 book in progress.  Ouch:  our co-author is none other than Keith Yearman, contributor to this blog and associate prof of geography at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL.  But I’m sure the teensy mistake will be rectified ASAP.  We love both our Keiths. ;D

More posts soon!

Your road diva,


Route 66 news:  Chicago’s Adams Street Bridge to be closed 13 months for repairs

As of Monday night, the Adams Street Bridge across the South Branch of the Chicago River is closed to car, truck and bike traffic for repairs for more than a year, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.  Pedestrians will still be able to use the bridge most of that time, but there will be two 30-day periods later this year when even they will have to cross the river elsewhere.  The closure will affect the two-block stretch from Wacker Drive on the east across the river to and including the Canal Street intersection near Union Station on the west.  Westbound motorists on Adams will be able to either 1) turn north on Wacker and cross over the river at Madison Street, then return to Adams via Clinton Street, or 2) turn south on Wacker, cross the river on Van Buren Street and return to Adams via Jefferson Street.

Route 66 roadies, this affects YOU, so keep the bridge repair in mind from now through February 2017 – and plan accordingly.

Adams Street Bridge in winter  (Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Adams Street Bridge in winter (Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

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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)

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Route 66 news:  Hero of Stinson Airport tragedy honored by USGS

Hey roadies, remember several months ago when we got previously unrecognized little Canyon Creek in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve an official name?  Well (blush!), we’ve done it again.  And now we’re trying to organize a dedication ceremony early next month for the newly named Schustek Pond on Route 66.

Bruno Schustek, hero and victim of the Stinson Airport tragedy, Route 66, July 1930, McCook IL

Aviator and hero Bruno F. Schustek

For nearly two years, we’ve been looking for a way to honor a hero of Route 66:  aviator, parachute jumper and World War I pilot Bruno Frank Schustek (1899-1930).  Next month is the 85th anniversary of his death.  Schustek died on July 6, 1930 in what is known as the Stinson Airport tragedy, while trying to save the life of a novice parachute jumper.  Her chute had been caught on the wing of her plane as it circled 1,000 feet above Stinson Airport on Route 66, in what is now McCook, IL.  For two hours, several other pilots attempted rescue with rope ladders and failed, while the girl dangled in midair above and horrified people watched below.  Then Schustek got into a plane with his fellow pilot Charles ‘Bud’ Geiger to make yet another attempt.  As Geiger maneuvered his craft above the other plane, Schustek climbed down a knotted rope to try to free the girl.  The novice made it safely to the ground, but the weary Schustek – an experienced parachute instructor who, ironically, was wearing neither a safety harness (they didn’t exist yet) nor a chute at the time – lost his grip on the rope before he could climb back up and fell 600 feet to his death.  (Listen to our podcast about the tragedy here.)

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Route 66 weekend events, June 5-7:  car & bike show, cruise-in, more

Happy weekend, fellow roadies!  Summer’s here, and it’s time for car shows and cruisin’ down our favorite iconic American highway.  Wow, it feels good to be shaking the dust of winter off your wheels, doesn’t it?  Tear down that ragtop, tune up the vehicle, turn up the road music (we like classic Beach Boys, Springsteen, ZZ Top and Pat Metheny, but you may differ), and let’s take off!  Rain or shine, you’ll be doing fine at these events in the [extended] metro area:

McLean County Historical Museum, Bloomington, IL (photo courtesy of Google street view)

McLean County Historical Museum, Bloomington, IL  (photo courtesy of Google street view)

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Route 66 calendar update:  Wright Plus housewalk and another CBOT/CME memoir

Hi again, fellow roadies!  Yes, we know we gave you the spring-summer Route 66 events calendar for northern Illinois just two days ago, but you also knew there would be additions, yes?  Of course there are, and so soon.

Statue of Ceres, goddess of grain and the harvest, atop the Chicago Board of Trade Building  (Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Statue of Ceres, Roman goddess of grain and the harvest, atop the Chicago Board of Trade Building  (Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

First, let me mention a must-read on another website.  It’s related to our recent post about the Chicago Board of Trade and the death of open-outcry trading at CBOT.  Open outcry, a system of trading using hand signals that the CBOT’s earliest iteration invented, will also die soon at CBOT’s sister market for agricultural commodities, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), aka the Merc.  A reminiscence of trading at the Merc ran in this month’s Chicago magazine online.  Ted Fishman does an excellent job on “What Chicago loses by closing the CME’s futures pits.”   Whereas my very brief memoir of CBOT came from a trading floor runner’s point of view, the Chicago mag piece is written from a trader’s viewpoint.  Fascinating and sad.  Don’t miss it.

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