This past week, instead of sitting in the editing room at WQED, I got to go to South Bend, Indiana, for the 2009 Lincoln Highway Conference.
This annual gathering of history-and-roadway-loving people from across the country is always held in a town along one or another of the various routes of the Lincoln Highway. (There were several different “official” routes between 1913 and 1930 when the original Lincoln Highway Association was telling motorists how to get efficiently from New York City to San Francisco or vice versa.)
South Bend was on the original 1913 coast-to-coast path of the highway, but later in 1930, the route was changed to follow Route 30 across the middle of Indiana. This new route was straighter and faster, but towns like South Bend lost all the advantages of being on the route, But that was then. Now if you were on any of the routes, you can tap into your spot in history and the folks in the new Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) will love you. Once a Lincoln Highway town, always a Lincoln Highway town.
So I’ve been planning to attend this conference for several months. Jan Shupert-Arick, a woman I met and interviewed last year at the conference in Evanston, Wyoming, a past-president of the LHA, and one of the co-directors of this South Bend conference, called and asked me if I’d be the keynote speaker this year. I couldn’t say no. After all that the members of the LHA had done to help me as I produced a documentary for PBS, it’s the least I could do. I asked if could show video clips and maybe some outtakes from A RIDE ALONG THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY. She said that would be perfect. She is too nice.
So I thought I’d take my time and write about 12 or so things that I really loved about this past week.