The past week = two programs, a dog, and a trophy

One of the fun results of the release of our book, Route 66 in Illinois, a year ago has been all the programs I/we have been asked to do. When we were preparing for the release a little over a year ago, Joe and I planned the program and slide show so that we could do a tag-team presentation with both of us (that's the most fun) or so that either one of us could do the program solo. I've given quite a few solo, due to Joe's work schedule and due to the fact that I have a hard time saying "no" when anyone is interested enough in Route 66 and/or our book to ask!

I mentioned at the end of the last post ("We're not in Kansas anymore") that I had to get home from the tri-state area to give a program in nearby Collinsville, Illinois. I did make it home in time Monday but without much time to spare! First thing on the agenda for the Collinsville Historical Society was dinner, and I made it just in time for that. Next they had a brief business meeting and then I gave the program. They had a nice crowd - maybe 40 people - and we all had a good time. The lower level of the Collinsville Public Library is a spacious venue. Bonus - two old friends were there and we had a nice, albeit brief, catch-up. Several in the crowd seemed to share my enthusiasm for my topic. One woman told me afterwords, "You just make me want to jump in my car and drive!" Wow. I love hearing that I reached someone. After my program, I sold and signed a small stack of books. It didn't occur to me to take any photos there but I caught a nice one on the way home of the beautiful sunset. 

On Wednesday evening, my four-legged friend Yadi (short for Yadier Molina, of course) arrived to stay with me for five days while his mama (my good friend Karen) went to a vintage trailer rally. As much as I want a dog of my own, I don't do it because of how much I travel. So I jump at the chance for a visit. Yadi's a very well-behaved boy and has had a good time at my house meeting the neighbors and a couple other dogs, playing ball, and going out for ice cream (we just did that once).

Then to bookend the week, I gave a program in Delavan, Illinois, on Saturday evening, just 48 hours after an F2 tornado hit their town! (Thankfully, there were no fatalities or serious injuries, although 50+ homes were damaged.) I had never been to Delavan before, but I should have. The Delavan Cruisers hold a cruise in every month during the warm months, and back in February they invited me to do a program. What gracious and appreciative hosts! I was treated like a long-lost relative! Glenn Holmes, Mark Williams, and Sandy and Charles Denman welcomed me, parked my car, carried my stuff, and introduced me to the nice-sized crowd that had gathered. Hot cars lined the main street outside while we stayed cool and comfy inside the Delavan Community Historical Society's building. 

The crowd was enthusiastic and engaged, and I jabbered on the long side as usual, but they stayed with me. It's so much fun to engage with a group like this that appreciates history, Route 66, and revisiting their own memories triggered by a slide I show or a story I tell. 

That's the awesome part of what I do, when someone says "thanks for showing that photo - we honeymooned there" or "I remember eating there with my parents" or "I've driven through every one of those towns." I love connecting with people through the stories of Route 66.

After the program and the Q&A, Mark Williams presented me with a trophy! He explained that the Delavan Cruisers award a monthly trophy, donated by Jim Maloof Realtor, to a supporter of the cruise in. So I'm the Delavan Cruisers Supporter of the Month for July 2015! I was so surprised! I sold and signed a small stack of books afterwards.

Charles and Sandy Denman presented me with a stack of their local paper, The Delavan Times, with the "Delavan Cruisers To Host Route 66 Author" story on the front page, plus several other recent issues. This is a weekly paper now owned and operated by the third generation, Sandy Larimore Denman, who serves as Editor, while Charles serves as Reporter (he's also been the mayor). 

Glenn Holmes told me about Delavan's annual civil war re-enactment and the four-times-a-year firing of their cannon (including New Year's Eve!). Glenn gave me a little tour of the main street and the bricked triangle where the cannon reposes. The mounting is original to the town, but their original cannon was donated to a scrap drive during WWII. Glenn found their replacement cannon years ago in Boise, Idaho, and had it brought to Delavan. 

The program went well, I sold and signed some books, the trophy was a lovely gesture, and all had a good time. But the real prize of this trip was meeting some of Delavan's most involved community leaders, learning about the town they call home, and getting some photos of their charming street scape.

I'm pretty sure there are no programs, dogs, or trophies involved in the coming week's activities, but I've got two stories to write and conference duties to accomplish. And, on Tuesday I'll be going to Springfield to attend the first Route 66:  The Road Ahead Initiative workshop. No dull moments around here.


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