Day 2: October 28, 2015
Sixty-Six Reached

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I'd have had pictures of this yesterday had I been able to walk around the square. It was still raining when I left this morning so I just paused for a from-the-car shot.

I braved the gentle rain for some photos at the Ernie Pyle Park. The monument is a replica of the original in Okinawa.

Near Chrisman, Illinois, the Town 'n Country Motel, which I first encountered in 2006, seems little changed.

There's nothing really special about these curves just east of Decatur, Illinois, but, more often than not, photos of rainy or misty views turn to crap inside the camera but this one didn't. At least, that's what I think and that's why I'm posting it.

This is Shea's Gas Station Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Bill Shea died in December, 2013, and most of the memorabilia he had collected is being auctioned off. I was only inside once but consider my self lucky to at least have met Bill and experienced his wonderful museum.

Long time readers will have encountered several references to Maid-Rite on this site. A Maid-Rite restaurant that was once associated with the Iowa Maid-Rites is an icon in Greenville, Ohio, near where I grew up. The Maid-Rite story is certainly a tangled one and this particular store seems to add a few tangles of its own. An unimportant but legitimate question is why didn't I know about this place long ago? I'm a Maid-Rite fan and I've visited Springfield several times. This joint is -- and always has been -- within sight of the capitol. Yet I only learned of it from a newspaper article. Over the summer, Springfield's State Journal-Register ran a series called "66 Things About Route 66" that listed this shop and tripped my radar. Other questions include "Was it ever really on US-66?", "Does it really predate the Iowa Maid-Rites?", "Did it really have the first drive through in the nation?", and "Why is there so little about it on the internet?". I can't answer any of those but I can answer "Are the sandwiches and homemade rootbeer any good and are the people friendly?" Yes and double yes.

Maybe part of the reason it took me so long to notice the Springfield Maid-Rite is this Route 66 icon in the same town. This was sort of a ceremonial stop. I had just one Cozy Dog to go with my Maid-Rite.

Although I've known about Doc's Soda Fountain for sometime, this was my first visit. It won't be my last. That root beer float was just about the best I've ever had. I encountered owner Bob Ernst while I was there and got a tour and some stories. Bob and his wife Renae, who own and operate The Furniture Doctor, purchased the drugstore in 2007. Brothers Bob and Bill Deck had retired in 2001 ending 117 years of Deck family operation. A couple of attempts by others to continue as a drugstore failed before the Ernsts bought it and decided to focus on the soda fountain and a small drugstore museum that the Deck brothers had created. Three store fronts are now combined. Between the soda fountain and the Furniture Doctor showroom, an area once used by the drugstore for hardware sales, is now a meeting and overflow room and something of a museum itself.

The Furniture Doctor operation includes a large workshop space located elsewhere and the company is involved in historic restoration and reproduction. Information on some of their projects, including contributions to the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, is displayed in the middle room. When I met him, Bob was working on a tobacco display in that room. That is what the last two photos show. Everything in the display came from the drugstore's "attic". On the left of the last picture is a vending machine that dispensed matchboxes for a penny each. The other item is a kerosene fueled cigar lighter. Both were once used in the store.

The first time I reached the famous Route 66 Turkey Tracks they were unmarked and I didn't even see them because I didn't know what everyone was looking at as they drove past. Then came some paint, then better paint and eventually a sign by the tracks. Now neighbors offer guidance a mile away.

I've wanted to stay at the Carlin Villa Motel in the past but until now time and distance just hadn't worked out. This time it did and I was glad it did and happy with my room.

Although they are on different alignments of Route 66, the Carlin Villa and the Ariston are only about a dozen miles apart. Nick Adam was on duty and the food, service, and atmosphere were just as good as I remembered them.

I knew the museum across the street would be closed when I got there but I didn't know it would be looking so good. I'll be back in the morning to check out the inside but I couldn't resist recording a little of the nigh-time neon.

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