Archive for the ‘Road trip’ Category

End of an Era: Our friend Bernie Queneau

December 8, 2014

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

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The Boy Scout Safety Tour visited the Linn County Courthouse, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on July 19, 1928. From left, Carl Zapffe, Edward Pratt, Mark Hughes, driver Reese Davis, Bernard Queneau, BSA Tour Manager Charles Mills, BSA Director of Demonstrations Reno Lombardi, and their Reo Speed Wagon.

 

If you attended a Lincoln Highway event in the past decade, you know there was only one celebrity who fans waited to see: Bernie Queneau, with his deep voice and big smile. Of course, his world was much larger than the Lincoln Highway. When I last spoke with him, an interview actually, he asked if we could talk about something else. “There was more to my life than that trip” he said, not grouchy but proudly.

Still, to Lincoln Highway fans he will always be the Scout on the 1928 coast-to-coast Safety Tour, the last connection to a long-gone era when Model T’s dominated the dusty/muddy, roads.

Bernie was born in Liege, Belgium, on July 14, 1912—Bastille Day he liked to point out—two months before Carl Fisher gathered auto industry friends to propose his crazy cross-country highway idea. Bernie had vague memories of WWI, and then at 13, his family moved to Minneapolis. Thanks to his advanced education, they made him a high school sophomore. His family moved again to New Rochelle, New Jersey, where he graduated in 1928 at age 15.

He entered a contest for Eagle Scouts to go to Africa and was one of seven finalists. After three were chosen, Bernie and the remaining three were offered a tour along the Lincoln Highway that would promote both Scouting and the road itself, which was being superseded (as were all named trails) by the Federal highway numbering system. Much of the Lincoln Highway from Pennsylvania to Wyoming was marked as U.S. 30, but they were different paths, and many bypassed parts of the Lincoln never did receive a number. Those are the parts the Scouts would have traveled.

I first met Bernie when LHA President Esther Oyster tracked him down in 1997. I was a founding director of the LHA and had published my first book about the road the year before. Esther was looking for a special speaker at the upcoming LHA conference in Ohio and was surprised to find one of the Scouts still living. Bernie was 84 and here in my hometown of Pittsburgh. She arranged for us to interview him on March 20 at my workplace, the Senator John Heinz History Center, where I still work. Bernie was amazed that anyone had heard of his road trip seven decades earlier, let alone might be interested in it.

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Esther and Bernie at the fun, informal premier of Rick Sebak’s PBS program about the Lincoln Highway. Sebak’s impromptu showing of clips on the wall pleased fans crowded into the Road Toad near Ligonier, Pa., September 20, 2008.

Esther and Bernie met again at the 2002 LHA conference in San Francisco, where he dedicated a replacement marker at the Western Terminus, and a few months later they invited me to lunch. Plans were made for the William Penn Hotel, a prestigious venue in downtown Pittsburgh, opened 1916. We three reunited at the History Center, and as we walked outside I asked Bernie where he was parked. “We’ll walk” he said and for the next seven blocks it was hard to keep up with this sprightly 90-year-old! Their treat that day was to tell me they’d gotten engaged!

Bernie liked to joke about meeting Esther’s family, that they teased him whether he had any piercings or if he worried about being 12 years older. He joked back that he thought Esther would be sufficiently mature. They were married and in Summer 2003 they re-drove his trip across the country with an LHA tour group that celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway, the 75th anniversary of the Scout trip, and their marriage.

Every few years our paths would cross, usually at a Lincoln Highway event. Last year, after a historical society evening banquet, the older audience was ready to go home, but Bernie ordered another bottle of wine. After lunch just a few months ago, he jumped behind the wheel of his new car and drove Esther home on the Penn-Lincoln Parkway, Pittsburgh’s frantic 4-lane successor to the old Lincoln Highway through town.

The History Center will open a WWII exhibit next Spring, hence my invitation to Bernie for another oral history. The three of us met up here once again, and for a couple hours he held us spellbound with first-hand recollections of being in the Navy 1939-1946. He used his Ph.D. in Metallurgy to investigate many important applications, from oxygen tanks to aircraft armor to improved ballistics. After the war, he joined U. S. Steel, rising in 1970 to General Manager Quality Assurance for the entire company, which was producing 25 million tons of steel a year. He retired in 1977 only to become a Consulting Engineer, not really retiring for another decade.

Of course, even real retirement for Bernie was busier than a workday for the rest of us. He volunteered for Meals on Wheels, as a hospital escort, and more recently at the used book store at his nearby Mt. Lebanon Library. He and Esther saw a great deal of the world together. He was even a bit late to his own big 100th birthday party, having toured the city all day.

On Saturday, December 6, 2014, he was bestowed the rare Distinguished Eagle Scout Award for outstanding career achievement, on Esther’s 90th birthday. He passed away hours later, on Sunday, Pearl Harbor Day.

There is so much more to his life but it’s the Scout trip that always fascinated Lincoln Highway fans. His 1928 diary holds the precious insights of a teenager on an arduous and monotonous trip.

In New Jersey: “We saw the mayor and veteran of Civil War…. we did over 60 on the crowded highway.”

“Ohio is full of pigs, cattle, bad roads, and rain.”

And Utah: “On and on and on over the worst U.S. route I ever hope to see.”

We’ll miss his honesty, his thoughtful observations, his sense of humor, his love of history and good food. Most of all, I will miss his steady demeanor behind all those other things. As Esther likes to say, he was an old-school gentleman. When in his company, you felt you should do better too, be a better person … and be at least half as active. We’ll miss Bernie but he surely has 102 years of friends waiting for him….

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Tired Scouts in a Hudson convertible on the long trip home. Bernie is at right.

 

Postcard exhibit at Lincoln Highway museum

January 2, 2014

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The Lincoln Highway Experience Museum east of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, has launched a new postcard exhibit. “Wish You Were Here” features six greatly-enlarged postcards showing iconic locations along the Lincoln Highway in central and western Pennsylvania.

Trib LH Experience

A screen shot from the Trib Live news story about the postcard exhibit.

The postcard backs are also reproduced, including the personal handwritten messages. All paid visitors to the museum will also receive a free new postcard (and stamp) to write out and address while at the museum.

The museum has an archive with more than 3,000 Lincoln Highway postcards. It is located just west of the Kingston Bridge on US 30 eastbound. The exhibit is located in a room of the historic 1815 Johnston House, one of the oldest structures along the Lincoln Highway.

Read more at

http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourligonier/5236930-74/postcard-museum-highway

Saxon road trip christens Lincoln Highway in 1914

December 24, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
I’ve been looking through back issues of Horseless Age — there is something interesting on nearly every page. This clipping (p 892) from the June 10, 1914 issue features a story about a Saxon automobile that had left New York City on “a transcontinental trip that marks the official christening of the Lincoln Highway.”

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Just as interesting are two brief stories (you can see one about Pittsburgh) noting that Public Safety directors had barred headlights on the grounds that their glare was “blinding and causes confusion among pedestrians and even to other drivers.”

Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale August 8-10

July 24, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The ninth annual Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale will be held August 8-10, 2013. The sale, started in Ohio in 2005, has expanded westward but the Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway still leads the efforts; last year saw more than 1,200 sales from East Liverpool to the Indiana border according to Mike Hocker, executive director of Ohio’s byway.

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The Ohio Historic Byway publishes a Travelers Guide that includes a map showing the Lincoln’s route and its relationship to US 30. The guide can be found at many businesses along the corridor.

Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa will also have sales along the route. In fact, Council Bluffs in western Iowa will host its own Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale on Saturday, August 10, at 2400 N. Broadway (site of the former Pee-Wee Gardens on the LH) from 9 am to 2 pm. It will feature antique cars, model airplane demonstrations, and Lincoln Highway Association members discussing the highway’s history.

For Ohio, see http://www.historicbyway.com/buy-way-yard-sale/about-the-buy-way.
For Indiana, see http://indianalincolnhighway.org/?page_id=931 (still showing 2012)
For Illinois, see http://illinoislincolnhighwayassociation.org/?p=625.
For Iowa, see http://iowalincolnhighway.org/node/39.

US Senate recognizes the Lincoln Highway

June 28, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
On Wednesday, June 26, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway. The highway’s centennial celebration begins this Sunday in Kearney, Nebraska, with day-long events on Monday, the actual 100th anniversary.

Unfortunately, the resolution missed the actual date by one day, naming June 30 as the anniversary, when July 1 was the day of incorporation. That date and it’s significance to history and Lincoln held great importance to the LHA founders.

Also, headlines from the representative are calling it the centennial of “Highway 30.” Although much of the Lincoln Highway later became US Route 30, and that the numbering of much of the route that way was intentional, there is no real connection between the era of named auto trails from the 1910s and the federal numbered highways of 1926.

Still, Lincoln Highway fans can bask in the glow of federal recognition for their road.

See the full text of the resolution at

http://www.johanns.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=48e1da3a-7e19-482d-b5e2-137f0fc78a4f

New blog following Lincoln Highway westward

June 9, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Michael E. Grass has started blogging his adventures at “The Lincoln Highway Guide” as he follows the Lincoln Highway westward across the U.S. Grass is a journalist, Web developer, founding co-editor of DCist.com, and founding editor of The Huffington Post’s HuffPostDC.com.

Gas pump sculpture in Chambersburg PA, photo by Michael Grass

In his first post on June 3, Grass wrote, “Thus far, 2013 has brought me to Barbados, Hawaii, Thailand, Malaysia, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Portland, Maine. My adventures have been fantastic and they aren’t over yet. This week, I’m setting out to drive the Lincoln Highway all the way to San Francisco.”

And why? “I’m using the Lincoln Highway as a vehicle to rev up my creative engines. The road provides a path for me to explore and create. I plan to write along the way, in real time or near real time, depending on access to wifi or the reliability of my aircard. I hope to live and breathe the open road, which is something that is quintessentially American like apple pie.”

Check it out at lincolnhighwayguide.com/.

Lincoln Highway Bridge Festival this weekend

May 17, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The 34th annual Lincoln Highway Bridge Festival in Tama, Iowa, starts Friday and features Merriam’s Midway Shows, bands, kids activities, and the Festival Parade on Saturday morning. The celebration is named for the 1915 concrete bridge built on East 5th Street that has been preserved and is still used.

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Read more in today’s Tama Toledo News for times and more details. (Sorry, my link posting is down):

http://www.tamatoledonews.com/page/content.detail/id/515014/34th-annual-Lincoln-Highway-Bridge-Festival-is-today–Saturday.html

American Songline sings the highway this summer

March 10, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Singer/composer Cecelia “Cece” Otto will celebrate the Lincoln Highway’s centennial this summer with concerts in every state along the coast-to-coast road. An American Songline: A Musical Journey Along the Lincoln Highway is a “singing travelogue” that will serenade communities with songs popular during the highway’s heyday.

Cece pole

Cece wants these performances to be free so she is asking for donations to help defray some of her costs. Visit her Kickstarter campaign at www.kickstarter.com/projects/614045560/an-american-songline> to make a donation. Whether you donate or not, at least check out her project, one of the most creative celebrations of the Lincoln Highway’s centennial.

“I will travel through 14 states, following the original 1913 route of the Lincoln Highway. I’ll be singing a mix of operetta, light classical, and vaudeville songs that were performed in concert halls and recitals along the road throughout the 1910s, ’20s and ’30s. And I’ll be staying with people along the way and getting to know them and their communities.”

An American Songline kicks off mid-April in New York City. Cece will then travel from New Jersey to California, where the journey ends in Lincoln Park, the western terminus of the Lincoln Highway. To learn more about American Songline, visit americansongline.net or its page on Facebook.

2013 Lincoln Highway travel guide for Nebraska

January 25, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

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The Nebraska Lincoln Highway Scenic and Historic Byway Association has published a Centennial Travel Guide to promote attractions along the Lincoln Highway. Nebraska’s portion of the coast-to-coast road 450 miles, makes it the state’s longest byway. Print versions are available or see it instantly online HERE.

Sarah Focke, LH byway president, says “The centennial of the Lincoln Highway in 2013 will mean increased tourism…. This will help them visit all the hidden treasures located along the way.”

The guide includes historical information about the highway and key byway attractions and historical sites, maps to find lodging, meals and entertainment and a schedule of activities along the way.

Copies of the travel guide are available in the 36 communities across the byway, or for more information, visit
http://www.lincolnhighwaynebraskabyway.com.

Carl Fisher featured on Lynwood IL mural

October 12, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The Village of Lynwood, Illinois, sports the newest mural in the Illinois Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor’s series that spans the 179-mile Illinois byway corridor. Lynwood marks the eastern terminus to the Illinois portion of the Lincoln Highway. The mural wasinstalled October 10, 2012, at 21490 East Lincoln Highway, on Lynwood’s Senior/Youth Center building.

ILHC works with artist Jay Allen (above, installing the mural), owner of ShawCraft Sign Company; every mural is a hand painted, unique work of art.  Upon completion, the series will be one of the largest works of public art in the country. This mural depicts Carl G. Fisher, the “Father of the Lincoln Highway” and elements of his life that helped turn his dream of the first transcontinental highway into a reality.

For more information on the Illinois Lincoln Highway, places to see and things to do, stories of the highway’s significance and history, or to download an Illinois Lincoln Highway Visitor Guide, visit drivelincolnhighway.com. To see the mural larger, visit my Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/28162312417/.


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