People ordinarily don’t drive over 1,200 miles in a single weekend just to get a button … but the latest addition to the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar’s collection is no ordinary button.
This weekend, the city of Pontiac hosted a Route 66 festival and public-art project in honor of the late Bob Waldmire, better known to readers of this blog as the inspiration behind the Dreamcar’s elaborate paint job.
Bob was Mother Earth News on the Mother Road. Equal parts Robert Crumb, Cyrus Avery, and Gandhi, he was one of Scout’s favorite people. I adored him, and I miss him terribly. When I found out the folks in Pontiac were going to paint a mural he’d designed, I started trying to figure out whether I could manage a weekend getaway to a town 605 miles from my doorstep.
When I learned they would be handing out “I did it for Bob” buttons, I quit thinking about “whether” and started thinking about “how.”
It was an incredible weekend. A few highlights:
The mural was designed to be an interactive community project, with people’s handprints incorporated into the background. Below, Bob’s former sister-in-law, Sue — owner of the Route 66 restaurant founded by Bob’s dad — adds her handprint to the mural:
When he wasn’t driving 66 in his famous VW Microbus (which is on permanent display inside Pontiac’s Illinois Route 66 Association Hall of Fame and Museum) or his Mustang fastback, Bob lived in an old school bus he’d customized for himself. The bus is on display behind the museum and was open for tours this weekend. I could devote an entire post to Bob’s bus (and probably will later this week), but for now, I’ll just give you a little peek:
The Dreamcar got some special treatment this weekend: The festival organizers let me park it next to the mural all afternoon.
I came back to find the chalkboard filled with friendly messages, some of which made me cry.
It’s hard to see some of them in the picture, but there’s a sweet note from Sue and a message to Bob from John and Lenore Weiss. Lenore passed away less than two months after we lost Bob. She and John started the Illinois Route 66 Association’s historic preservation committee, which was instrumental in turning my mild interest in 66 into a blazing passion for the road.
I hadn’t seen John in ages, but when I found his message, I went looking for him. I found him, obviously, and we had a great visit.
I have more to report, but I’m wiped out, so I’ll have to fill you in on the rest later. Hope your weekend was good, wherever you were.