A program, meetings, and a crazy automobile swindle

The second week of each month is almost always my busiest week. Two regularly scheduled monthly meetings fall in this week and every other occasional meeting and other commitment seems to land there too.

On Monday evening my esteemed co-author Joe Sonderman and I gave our "Route 66 in Illinois" program for the Marine Historical Society members and guests. Back in May, the society had invited me to do a program and I talked for at least an hour on "Route 66 in Madison County." I guess I didn't bore them too badly since they invited me back, and Joe, too.

We do have fun with our programs, and we suspect that our audiences do, too, since they laugh at our jokes. We share a lot of fun things about Route 66, but we seldom leave a program without touching on a few of the sad stories, as well, because, Route 66, like life itself, is and was that crazy mixture of highs, lows, comedy, and tragedy. And, like our own little anecdotes in life, the stories are usually a little funnier in the rear-view mirror than at the moment of experiencing them. 


We look pretty serious here - must not have been one of the funny stories. Photo by Steve Rensberry
On Tuesday, the City of Edwardsville and I resumed (after my three-week trip) meetings on the 2015 Route 66 conference. I'm sorry that I don't have anything new to report just yet, but rest assured that planning is going well and that sometime in October we should have some details to announce. 

I serve as a commissioner on Edwardsville's Historic Preservation Commission, and on Wednesday evening we had that monthly meeting. It was long but productive, and Route 66 was mentioned more than once. 

Then on Thursday, we were to have our regularly-scheduled meeting of the Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor, but due to some officer medical issues, we met via email. Organizational tasks for our newish group are getting sorted out and accomplished, and planning for the very first annual Blue Carpet Corridor weekend on the second weekend of June 2015 is going well. Most of the communities along the Blue Carpet Corridor (Chatham south on the various alignments to the Mississippi River) have made a commitment to participate, and it's going to be an exciting weekend. We're posting some photos and news of the Blue Carpet Corridor communities on our Facebook page if you'd like to join us: www.facebook.com/BlueCarpetCorridor 

Speaking of programs and corridors and Route 66 in Illinois, this week Joe and I scheduled another book signing for the new book. We had offered to do a book signing at the wonderful Joliet Area Historical Museum, and this week we were invited to be there to do just that on Saturday, May 2, 2015, the first day of the RED Carpet Corridor in northern Illinois. We'll be there!

Next week I don't have anything scheduled, so it will be time to get caught up on a couple articles that that will soon be due - (1) Waynesville, Missouri, Route 66 history and (2) the amazing story of the Robert Knetzer automobile agency in Edwardsville. 

Knetzer's crazy car scam had customers lined up to hand over their money and was bringing in tens of thousands of dollars per day. Deposits were coming from around the country and the unbelievable scheme reached all the way to Hollywood. The February 6, 1951, issue of The Saturday Evening Post told the whole story after it was all over. You won't have to wait long for this one - it will be in the October issue of The Prairie Land Buzz and will be available online. Now to write it!

Next post I'll resume the Edwardsville Route 66 history series.