Posts Tagged ‘US 30’

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were offered a tour along the Lincoln Highway that would promote both Scouting and the road itself, which was being superseded (as were all named trails) by the Federal highway numbering system.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

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.

Shelton Lincoln Highway Festival on Sunday

July 27, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The 15th annual Lincoln Highway Festival and Car Show is set for this Sunday in Shelton, Nebraska, which bills itself as the “Lincoln Hi-way Capital” of the state. As reported in the Grand Island Independent, festivities include a car show, antique tractor display, live music, and a photo contest on display at the Lincoln Highway Center. The festival is sponsored by the Shelton Historical Society.

Lunch served at the American Legion Hall will include sloppy joes, Polish dogs, chips, drinks, and pie. The United Methodist Men will be serving homemade ice cream at the north end of Main Street. Organizer Cyndy Ryan said a new addition to this year’s festival will be an antique tractor drive from Shelton to Gibbon and back.

First waitress in 1938 remembers Serro's DIner

June 14, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
As the former Serro’s Diner moves closer to being back in service, the diner’s first waitress got to visit the restoration project. The Serro family opened the brand new 1938 O’Mahony-brand diner in Irwin, Pa., as a Lincoln Highway bypass was being built around the town for the coming Pennsylvania Turnpike terminus. The diner will soon be part of a museum complex being built by the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor between Greensburg and Ligonier.

A story in the Tribune-Review (including the two images here by Eric Schmadel) reported how 95-year-old Jenny Baloh recently visited the diner where she began waitressing in 1938. As one of the 10 Serro siblings, she was THE first waitress:

My brothers (Louis and Joseph) bought the dining car when I was a teenager. I told them I didn’t know a thing about waitressing. They said, “You’ll learn.”

The diner was rescued from likely demolition in 1992 when I had the pleasure of arranging for its purchase and move by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, now the Heinz History Center. With no practical place to display the diner, it was given to the LHHC. After almost 2 years of work, the diner is almost ready for it’s new home, a  soon-to-be-constructed addition at the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum along Route 30 East, across from the Kingston Bridge.

Order Lincoln Highway Companion from Amazon – click HERE

PA Roads: From the Lincoln to Eisenhower

February 27, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor will present “Pennsylvania’s Roads: From the Lincoln to Eisenhower” at 2 pm, March 11, at the Lincoln Highway Experience, 3435 Route 30 East, near Kingston Dam in Latrobe. Presenter Jeffrey Kitsko will explore the history of the Lincoln Highway, the PA Turnpike, and the Interstate Highway System as envisioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Jeff  will also discuss roadway construction from the time of the named auto routes and the importance of preserving the Lincoln Highway. He brings his expertise on the history of Pennsylvania’s roadways particularly as the webmaster of the award-winning site www.pahighways.com.

Advance reservations are required. Visit www.LHHC.org to make reservations through PayPal or call (724) 879-4241. A fee charged per person will include light refreshments.

Hit the road with MyLincolnHighway

January 9, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Stuck inside with no road trips till Spring? Click on over to mylincolnhighway.com for a fun look at some LH travels in Ohio. Jamie calls her blog “A somewhat baised guide to the greatest road across the USA.”

Her trips so far are mostly in east-central Ohio but she’s also traveled a few times to Grand View Point near Bedford, Pennsylvania, and even visited the new Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum past Chambersburg. Below, she is at Grand View Point (which was renamed Mt. Ararat a couple decades ago when the Ship Hotel was ark-ified). The view of the gas station across the road. Note the pillar on the right is missing, spelling certain doom for the roof. Also note the graffiti artist reminding us of their trip in “20010”!

PA Lincoln Highway corridor open house today

December 16, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor has a new home along the Lincoln Highway between Greensburg and Ligonier. LHHC has purchased the 1815 stone Johnston House across from the Kingston Dam. The site will eventually be home to the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum, which will include the restored Serro’s Diner that sat along the LH in Irwin.

LHHC is holding a Grand Opening of its gift shop today, Friday, December 16, 2011, from 3 to 7 p.m. Hot cider and gingerbread will be served. In addition to Lincoln Highway memorabilia and books, you’ll find many fine crafts from the Handmade Along the Highway program.

Contact LHHC at 3435 Route 30 East, Latrobe, PA 15650. New phone: 724-879-4241. www.lhhc.org/.

 

Frankfort IL gets newest Lincoln Highway mural

December 14, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition has installed the next in the series of Interpretive Murals along the 179-mile Illinois byway corridor. The mural on a township building at 11008 West Lincoln Highway/US 30 in Frankfort, Illinois, depicts the actual Eagle Scouts and Scout leaders who made a Nationwide Safety Tour along the Lincoln Highway in 1928.

The tour was a promotion of the Lincoln Highway and the Scouts’ plan to place concrete markers along the route. The story of their adventure giving safety daily demonstrations, “good road turns,” and helping out wherever needed is told in the mural. Specifically named is Eagle Scout Bernie Queneau, now age 99 and still one of the Lincoln Highway’s leading supporters.

For information on the Lincoln Highway in Illinois, including places to see, stories of the highway’s significance, or to download an Illinois Lincoln Highway Visitor Guide, visit drivelincolnhighway.com/.

Lincoln Highway Days in Iowa this weekend

August 26, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The 28th annual Lincoln Highway Days will be held in Nevada, Iowa, starting today, August 26–28, 2011. Each day will feature carnival rides and games, food, and much more.

Some excerpts from www.lincolnhighwaydays.com:

Friday, Aug. 26: Celebrate with fun on the Story County 4-H grounds. Lincoln Highway Days Rodeo. Teen and adult dances with live music and refreshments.

Saturday morning Aug. 27: One of the biggest parades in Story County. National Guard honors our Soldiers at War along the route of the Lincoln Highway. Klassy Kruisers antique cars. Antique Tractors. BBQ contest. Lincoln Highway Day’s Baby contest. More teen dancing.

Sunday Aug. 28: A grand day for walking through the Craft building and the Varied Industry building and the Flea Market.

The first Lincoln Highway Day was held October 1983, in conjunction with a celebration of the finished railroad overpass west of Nevada.



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