Route 66 in the News

A Route 66 Legacy Continues

2012-08-05 07:53:53

BROADWELL, Ill. - Ernie Edwards would have been 95 on Sunday and those who knew him best gathered at the site of his former Pig-Hip restaurant site in Broadwell to celebrate his legacy.

“I worked as a waiter for Ernie in the summer of 1975,” said Bobby Olson, a resident of Broadwell. “They were laying the concrete for the interstate and so we were busy because we had two lunch rushes. One was for the construction workers and the other was for the Route 66 travelers, and he loved visiting and swapping stories with both groups. But, Ernie was quite a guy.”

Edwards was known for his tall white chef’s hat, but what made him really stand out, were his stories, Olson said. “He loved crowds and being right in the center of the action,” he said. “He would talk with strangers for hours.”

Edwards was one of the initial inductees into the Route 66 Association of Illinois’ Hall of Fame in June 1990, one of only three Logan County residents to receive the honor. On Sunday, the Route 66 Preservation Committee dedicated the restored Pig-Hip sign and marker that still sits on the property site at the edge of Broadwell.

“Ernie was what the great history of Route 66 was all about,” said Geoff Ladd, director of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County.

The Pig-Hip Restaurant was open from 1937 to 1991 and served as a popular museum from 1991 to 2007.

On March 5, 2007, the building caught fire and was destroyed. The site is identified with a stone marker.

Edwards’ wife, Fran, was also honored on Sunday by the crowd of about 70 people who attended the dedication ceremony.

The event featured a cookout and car show. Visitors were also able to sign an official Route 66 car hood provided by the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and the Illinois Office of Tourism.

“This is really a special day,” Fran said. “You can tell how loved he was by everyone. He would have loved the attention. He would have been out here in his hat telling stories.”

Their daughter, Sue Cale, had mixed emotions.

“I know how much he loved the attention and being in the spotlight telling his stories,” she said.

“But, it’s also a little sad to think this might be one of the last times there is a celebration like this where we can gather together and have a celebration. People will still come to the spot, but there may not be another day quite like this.”

~Kevin Barlow,


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