Route 66 in the News

Dick's Gets Hip to Route 66

2009-02-05 21:46:16

JOLIET, Ill. - Dick's wants kicks, too.

Dick Bartel, owner of Dick's Towing at 900 N. Broadway, saw the city commemorating the historic Route 66 with a special park across the street. And the adjacent Dairy Delite has Blues Brothers statues on its roof.

So Bartel decided to get into the act. He pulled two vintage vehicles from storage and had them hoisted to the top of a block building he owns on the southeastern edge of his property on the 900 block of Broadway, which was part of Route 66.

A 1949 Pontiac Chieftan and a 1941 International pickup truck are now perched on the roof with their tires hanging over the edge. Both vehicles were repainted, and the pickup was tricked out to look like a tow truck that is pulling the Chieftan.

"It really looks kind of cool," Bartel said.

The vehicles were lifted Tuesday by a rotator truck Bartel owns that can lift 50 tons. The Chieftan and the pickup were tied down Wednesday morning so there will be no mishaps on windy days.

Bartel, 68, is a lifelong resident of Joliet, and he grew up in and around the Route 66 corridor. He went to school at St. Mary's, ate snacks at the Donut Hut and bought Lionel trains at Emil and Ed's Hobby Shop. He said he loves the old history of the route and is happy to add to the hoopla.

Bartel said city officials, who are pushing a new tourism theme this year, were ecstatic when he told them about his plan.

This summer, Bartel said he will add to the building vintage signs and photos that his son, Dick K. Bartel, has collected through the years.

But the roadside attraction won't be complete until Bartel can locate some mannequins to drive the rooftop vehicles and a stuffed dog to hang its head out of the car window.

"We still have quite a bit we're going to do," Bartel said.

~Cindy Wojdyla Cain, for the Herald News


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