Heartland Highways Episode 901


Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System, dedicated
to providing care for all and creating healthy communities in East-Central Illinois. Offering
general and specialty medicine including a regional cancer center, heart and lung center,
orthopedics and sports medicine, a center for interventional pain, and a full complement
of diagnostic and rehabilitative services. Sarah Bush Lincoln: trusted, compassionate
care.>>Narrator On This episode of Heartland Highways
itís a preview of the people, places and adventures for our new season.
[Music]>>Narrator Thatís all coming up next, so
donít go away. [Music]
>>Narrator Welcome to season 9 of Heartland Highways. Iím Lori Casey. And Iím Kate Pleasant
and weíve got some great adventures in store for you this year. In todayís episode, weíll
take a look at all the places weíve been and the people weíve met along the way.
This year weíve got a few theme shows lined up for you including tours of four nature
centers located right here in east central Illinois.
Ernie Ballard was a nature lover who wanted to share that enthusiasm with the community.
He donated 210 acres of farm land near Altamont, Illinois to the local soil and water conservation
district. Realizing the land would be better served as a nature center, a non-profit organization
under the direction of Ballard was formed and soon after a nature center (bearing) his
name sake open to the public. Over thirty years ago in the midst of a rapid
development period, Adventurer and Nature Helen Douglas Hart had a vision. She wanted
to create a place where people could come to experience nature in its purest form. So,
she set aside thirty three acres of land outside of Mattoon, Illinois to be preserved. This
created what would become her legacy, The Douglas Hart Nature Center.
[Music] The Rock Springs conservation area opened
in 1975 and it was an area that comprises1,343 acres, a wide variety of habitats. Itís the
largest conservation area that the district owns. For this particular area, when people
come and they hike up the nature center on the trails and they get down along the Sangamon
river valley. And theyíre into the hills and valleys with two huge oak trees that are
200 plus years old. Theyíre amazed. They just stand in awe at what is right here in
their own neighborhood. Theyíve never discovered if theyíve never had the chance to get out
and visit one of them.>>Narrator We also decided to look at how
art is celebrated in the small towns around us. We didnít have to go far for our first
stop; in fact, it was right next to us at the Tarble Arts Center here on the campus
of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. And so the idea was to make the arts as assessable
as they could to the people of central- Illinois. And knowing that you know different offerings
and accessibility to the arts is somewhat limited, because weíre in the rural area.
And so, from the very beginning uh the Tarble is intended to serve the campus community
and the general community.We also headed to the Gaslight Art Colony in Marshall, IL, where
a small community has come together in a big way. We donít have to go to Terre Haute.
We donít have to go clear over to Indianapolis or Chicago to the art institute. Uh sure youíll
see masters, but thereís a lot of talent right here locally and I think itís good
for uh the communities to see what everyoneís doing.>>Narrator In Marshall, Illinois, thereís
a place where local art is showcased on a regular basis. The Gaslight Art Colony, in
downtown Marshall was the vision of local resident and artist, Jo Rich. Not far from
Marshall is Paris and the Bicentennial Art Center and Museum. Their permanent collection
features many pieces from local artists.>>Narrator Back in the 1940s a group of artists
and art enthusiasts in Paris, Illinois, got together and began meeting in homes and storefronts.
Over time the group grew and evolved and in 1976 during the United States bicentennial
celebration, they applied for funding through the Horizon Project and made it official.
The Paris Bicentennial Art Center and Museum was born. But it wasnít actually until several
years later that the groupís collection would find a permanent home.
Our final small town art tour ends up in Sullivan Illinois and the New Prairie Gallery which
is just down the street from The Little Theatre on the Square, a place we did a story on a
few years ago. We offer space for consignment artists and we basically want to provide an
opportunity in Sullivan for um people to enjoy art, people to buy art and for artists to
display and sell their art work. [Music]
This season we also met up with some talented young people in our region. Now, these musicians
all play string instruments. In Charleston, classical music is just part of the repertoire
for the kids involved in a program called Summer Strings.
[Music] For kids who want to play bluegrass, look
no further than just over the Indiana border. Judy Green began teaching music lessons in
her Clinton home located on Coon Holler road several years ago and in 2005 she took a group
of kids appropriately named the Coon Holler Kids on the road to share their love for bluegrass
music. [Bluegrass Music]
For this next set of adventures we got a little closer to home, in fact all of the people
and places in these stories can be found on the campus of Eastern Illinois University
here in Charleston. First, we learned a little bit about the history of teacher education
through the creation of the Normal school system here in Illinois.
What started as a movement in the east, eventually came to the state of Illinois in the mid 1800ís.
A method for training teachers that standardized their schooling, brought about the development
of Normal or teacher training colleges around the state. In 1895, Eastern Illinois State
Normal School came into existence. From 1899 to 1921, students were granted diplomas or
certificates, not academic degrees. In our next adventure we went right across
the street from WEIU to the Secret Garden, a beautiful garden hidden from view by several
surrounding buildings. A lot of people just walk past and it isnít
until you actually walk through the garden that you realize there is something here.
[Music] Just across campus from the Secret Garden
is the EIU Observatory. Run by the physics department, the observatory houses a 16-inch
telescope that provides students and the public alike with opportunities to see the stars
and planets. The telescope there that we use is what they
call a Schmidt-Cassegrain. Um most of the focusing is done by a mirror in the back.
Uh we say 16 that means it is just sort of a diameter of the lens or the mirror that
people use. Telescope is a big light bucket, so from looking at dim objects. So, literally
in this case size does matter. So, the bigger the better.
[Music] Every good Heartland Highways season always
has a few stories about collectors, of course! And this season is no exception. We first
met car and motorcycle collector Dick Levi in Springfield, Illinois. His collection of
cars and motorcycles is housed in what you might call, the ultimate ìman caveî.
No my background is not in cars, but I have always liked cars. Uh when I was younger I
didnít have the money to uh afford them but I like them. So, as soon as I got older I
was able to afford cars I started collecting them. Now, the first car I acquired when I
was sixteen was a 1955 Chevrolet that I paid 300 dollars for, which was probably too much
because it burned oil like crazy. But, uh course I had to find another 55 later. So,
Iíve got one now thatís much nicer than the one I owned, but my first car was a 1955
Chevrolet. It was this 1987s Ferrari that Dick said started
his collection about 15 years ago. He built an airplane hanger to first house his plans
for his business. And then added a wing and then another for collecting then storing his
cars and motorcycles. A little closer to home in Olney, Illinois,
we met our second collector, Dave Cunningham. Dave has more than 110 baseball gloves and†nearly
40 vintage softball gloves. The baseball gloves†reflect the many different web styles and glove styles
from 1880’s through the 1950’s. [Music]
I have been collecting for most of my life. I started out just as a child collecting rocks
and then I started collecting coins, collection of stamps and I migrated into collecting all
cards. I did that for a few years. And then after that I just decided I was going to try
collecting something different and as a result I ended up collecting old time finished ball
gloves. Our last collector was even nice enough to
let us come back a second time to shoot the introductions for our collector-themed show.
Weíre talking about Greg Harris of rural Windsor, Illinois. Greg collects Shell Oil
memorabilia and has quite the display of items ranging from old gas pumps all the way to
the authentic Shell Oil service station uniform. So, I wanted to collect uh a gas sign from
all the companies I could find. Well, I started out doing pretty good but the one I really
wanted was Shell and I could never get a Shell sign. That was the hardest one for me to get.
It was a long time before I ever got one. But, I started collecting and I finally got
one and weíd collect this and that and it ended up being we collect anything from matchbooks
to you see it. We see a lot of interesting places throughout
our travels for the show, but one of my favorite parts is getting to meet the people we come
across. This season we were fortunate enough to meet several people you might call ìcrafty,î
and if nothing else, talented! Rick Wallace of Neoga, Illinois, uses a scroll saw and
a whole lot of imagination to make his creations out of wood.
Going through grade school and then finally in the junior high I discovered woodworking
you know and I just it just took off after that. Itís always something thatís really
interesting to me. I can always put so much effort into it. It really there is nothing
better than thereís not a better feeling in the world that could create something you
know, even for everybody else to see too. He even took our photo and created it into
one of his wooden masterpieces. Roy Gaunt of Shelbyville, Illinois, was another
interesting person we met with an interesting craft. Roy makes display tractors out of old
sewing machines. He re-paints, re-uses, and re-purposes almost all of the parts, along
with some new ones, to come up with tractors ranging from John Deere to Farmall and beyond.
I guess you could say he uses a lot of imagination too!
Olí Singers work good, that olí metal types do. The newer ones work good like the tractors
you have here. Uh the newer sewing machines like most of them donít have a lot of the
adjustments and extra things on ëem. We traveled up to Paxton, Illinois, this season
where we met Pat Milchuck. Pat does something that not a lot of individuals do anymore,
sheís a milliner. Patís passion for hat making and her stunning creations truly make
her one-of-a-kind. About three years ago, I decided itís just
going to be hats and thatís as far as I am gonna go. And I have had the most wonderful
time of my life with this. It is very fulfilling and um Iím still designing. And Iím seventy
one and Iím still in the business. And it gives me everything I need.
Something else we werenít short on this season were people with interesting jobs. Our fellow
producer Fred Peralta met University of Illinois Chimesmaster Sue Wood who is responsible for
playing the chimes of Altgeld Hall at the Champaign-Urbana campus. This is a job we
had never heard of, but the story behind it is quite unique.
Well our visitors in general come up to the door and say, ìOh I thought this was all
automaticî and your standing their play and you say, ìWell, if you hear music being played
itís somebody standing at this keyboard.î If you hear the automatic chimes that is the
porter hour chimes that is automatic that system was put in the year after the chimes
themselves were put in. This next group left us with no shortage of
smiles. We caught up with a local Santa Claus club full of jolly St. Nicks that all sport
their own, real beards. They meet several times a year before the holidays to swap Santa
stories and talk about whatís in store for the season to come.
Weíre not a club weíre a family. A family of Santas. Weíre not related, but whenever
you get a group of Santas weíre family. And uh yeah you can say we are a club. But, itís
a Santa of giving loving. And we love what we do.
[Music] For this last story in our ìinteresting jobsî
category, we were able to get up close with some of the smallest birds in the world. We
were invited by some friends of the show to attend a hummingbird banding. Several of the
birds are caught, counted, banded and then released so they can be tracked by the Illinois
Audubon Society in order to learn more and educate the public about the habits of hummingbirds.
Just like people love owls and eagles, because theyíre so fascinating. First of all, they
are fast. They are different than any other bird. There something that they wish they
can be themselves. Uh having that freedom of flying backwards and up and down, go when
they want to go and leave whenever they want to go. I like just to watch it.
Weíve got two stories this year that are related to transportation history. First in
Mattoon, we visit the newly restored Illinois Central Depot.
By the time we started, it was boarded up on several sides, the roof was squeaking,
it was full of uh plaster, and chemicals, and asbestos, and all sorts of things. When
we were trying to raise funds for (200 people) you get(??) an historic building thatís been
restored. You get a centerpiece for downtown or midtown Mattoon. And uh you get to have
a passengerís station. And the transportation link is an important part of what the CD is
or can be. With the invention of the Model T, Americanís
were eager to explore the U.S. but a lack of good quality highways, proved to be a roadblock.
The Good Roads Movement in the early part of the 20th century brought about the creation
of the Dixie Highway. Completed in 1921 it was a series of roads that connected Chicago
to Miami. In Illinois, it was the longest continuous paved road in the state. This summer
we met up with the Aís are Us, Model A touring club, out of Chicago. They were recreating
a historic drive from nearly 100 years ago. We like traveling old roads. We like traveling
main roads. We like traveling roads that have no names in our back country roads and swigly
roads, curvy roads and things like that. We donít want to travel the heavily traveled
roads, because we can travel at the pace that we normally travel at without having to be
harassed by other motorists who get upset because we are going to slow.
We also made our way to a few unique destinations this year including the Casey Softball Hall
of Honor and Museum which is home to the Illinois Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame.
Many people come here that arenít necessarily interested in softball. And they find it fascinating
to see so much memorabilia and itís uh I think colorful and uh people are fascinated
that Casey can support something in this nature. From softball we headed to the oldest micro
midget sprint track in the United States. Since 1956, fans and drivers have been coming
to the Coles County Speedway near Mattoon. The first track was located uh just west of
Charleston on Old Route 16 at my fatherís live stock auction facility. I believe they
were in there for about a year and a half. And then they decided they needed a more permanent
location. So, then the track moved approximately two miles east of town on the pop hem farm.
And they raced there for two to three years until the club had enough money of their own.
They bought ten acres of land located about halfway between Mattoon and Charleston. I
believe that was in 1960 and the track was ready to go in 1961.
Small towns are favorite stops for us here at Heartland Highways, and Hazel Dell, Illinois,
fits the bill. This town of less than 200 boasts a popular restaurant that serves up
home cooking including their famous cinnamon rolls and pies.
And so this is home. Iíve always lived here and I always wanted to do something, My mom
and dad had the old store building next door. And they ran my grandma ran the post office
and mom and dad ran the store. So, we was always this was it. Here in Hazel Dell and
we always loved it here and I thought well we needed something here for the local people.
So, we opened this up. And people would drive by. I didnít know. My husband was very skeptical
that they wouldnít. But, people would drive to get food and baked things. I was kind of
surprised [Laughter] And speaking of food, we learned all about
cooking while on a visit to the Kitchen Conservatory in St. Louis.
And so what makes it different is that the United States standard for butter is 80% fat.
The standard in Europe is 82% fat. So it makes it that little bit better. [Laughter]
Our final destination was at the Hall of Hollywood Hoosiers in Vincennes, Indiana. This museum
is one manís collection of memorabilia featuring Indiana natives with connections to the entertainment
industry. What I have here is uh a collection of people
from Indiana who went to Hollywood, uh the Hollywood Hoosiers. Uh It covers the history
of Hollywood uh with the Indiana connection from the very beginning of motion pictures
to today. [Music]
Back in the 50s and 60s, East Central Illinois was a hub
for country music. This summer several of those musicians and singers got together for
their annual reunion and jam session called The Past Timers Reunion.
[Music] It just gets into you and uh those sounds
that you play and uh people dancing and you just have a great time. Itís just something
that gets into you I guess you know. So, as long as I am able to play Iím gonna play.
And I know these fellows here feel the same way. And thereís some real professional guys.
I mean thereís some guys who can really play in central Illinois.
Tucked away in the countryside near Tower Hill, Illinois, people come from all over
to experience gospel music at a place called The Barn. Once a cattle auction site, The
Barn was the vision of Joanne Clark, Judy Smith and their husbands.
The thing thatís made this special is that all the people that drive here to be a part
of the program in the audience are here because they want to. Theyíve driven from Pecan or
theyíve driven from Decatur or theyíve driven from Springfield. So, they had a desire to
come and hear the music to begin with. Well, once theyíve come and had such a pleasant
evening theyíre ready to come back and see whatever is going to be next. And theyíre
not afraid to bring company with them. If theyíre there, because they know itís going
to be a good program. Itís going to be a fun evening.
Well, we hope youíve enjoyed a look ahead of whatís in store this season on Heartland
Highways. For more information about the show or the stories weíve told you about today
you can visit our website at weiu.net/hh. Thanks for watching and weíll see you next
time! Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System, dedicated
to providing care for all and creating healthy communities in East-Central Illinois. Offering
general and specialty medicine including a regional cancer center, heart and lung center,
orthopedics and sports medicine, a center for interventional pain, and a full complement
of diagnostic and rehabilitative services. Sarah Bush Lincoln: trusted, compassionate
care.

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