Rick Sebak’s Blog header image 2

WQED TV producer and PITTSBURGH Magazine back-page writer writes about his current work and assorted other things.

#1. Getting the Gregory

July 19th, 2009 · 2 Comments

On the last night of the conference, the LHA usually holds a big dinner.   This year the Awards Banquet is at South Bend’s Century Center.

ShellwellThere’s a guest speaker: Terry Shellwell, the very serious and sincere leader of this summer’s vintage-truck-and-military-vehicle convoy that has been re-creating the famous military convoy of 1919.   (That original convoy included a young officer named Dwight Eisenhower, and his interest in improving America’s highways may have been the result of the difficult trek of that original group of trucks.)  This summer’s ride is officially the “Military Vehicle Preservation Association 90th Anniversary Convoy.”

This revival (tribute?) convoy sounds like it could be a hoot, a lark, a very cool adventure.  Also:  an organizational nightmare, a constant road blocker, a cross-country trip in a line of unchanging traffic made up of vintage vehicles that may develop all sorts of troubles.  But why not?  And the organizers timed it to be here in South Bend for the Lincoln Highway conference.  With a parade on Friday morning!

Conference on sidewalk

That was just one of the many other amazing events and activities that were all put together by the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association for the edification of their fellow members. Let’s face it:  it was a great conference.

Anyway, at this dinner, they give out awards.  Awards to thank state organizations for outstanding work.  Awards to state directors for things they’ve done.  (Jerry Peppers got one for the work he did in New York City this year.)award winners

Various awards for various people. (The conference organizers, Bill Arick and Jan Shupert-Arick, were recognized as well as all their loyal and wonderful Hoosier helpers who got this wingding together.)

And the #1 Cool Thing About The Lincoln Highway Conference in South Bend:  they gave me an award for producing the PBS program called A RIDE ALONG THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY.  I wish Bob and Glenn and Jarrett and Kevin and Matt and Paula and Frank and Buddy Nutt could all have been there too.  It’s always nice to be recognized for your work, but I don’t do any of this by myself.

Slice of award photo

Nonetheless, the award I got was the first Gregory Franzwa Award, established in honor of one of the leaders of this organization who died earlier this year.  Gregory Franzwa was one of the organizers and instigators who got the new Lincoln Highway Association started in 1992.  He was the first president of this new group, and he remained active over the years, editing the Lincoln Highway Forum magazine, writing extensively about the highway in a series of books that explained the highway and its history on a state by state basis.franzwaa award tilted back

As a regular reader of Brian Butko’s Lincoln Highway News blog, I remembered reading about Mr. Franzwa’s failing health and his passing (an apt term for a highway enthusiast!) and the tributes to him from other members and current LHA president Bob Dieterich.  I’m sorry that our paths never crossed last year, but I’ve heard Jay Banta talk very fondly about Gregory Franzwa, always including the points that while their political philosophies were quite different, they both had no great affection for the Bush administration, and that Greg was a wonderful friend.  And I’m encouraged that he and his small press were involved with many different national roads because I like to think that all this work on the Lincoln Highway is just a beginning.

I am delighted and inspired to receive an honor in memory of such a guy.  I want to dub it “the Gregory.”  (That way it sounds more like an Oscar or an Emmy, and “the Franzwa” sounds a bit odd.)  It’s been established to recognize folks who help promote the Lincoln Highway and the Lincoln Highway Association, and if our show did some of that, hooray!

I think we all enjoy riding these old highways because we’ve been guided by wise men like Gregory Franzwa, and his passion for all these roads is worth preserving and carrying on.  We do that by driving, by paying attention, by reading guides and histories about all aspects of the roads, and by recognizing how important these pathways are to all of us in America.Signs in OH

Tags: Blog Along The Lincoln Highway

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jerry Peppers // Jul 22, 2009 at 11:46 am

    What a great blog series Rick, especially for those of us who attended the Conference. You have really captured its essence in a way that gives it life.

    On a seperate note, a friend who started work with me in 1971 and I have not seen since the 1970’s saw the Special in the last day or two as it re-aired in the San Francisco area and emailed me. It was another very much appreciated “re-union” of sorts that grew out of the WQED Special (he was the 47th person who contacted me) and is really just ancillary to a great production. You really deserved the first Franzwa Award for that piece (I would have given you, Bob and Glenn and Oscar!).

    All the best. In Brian Butko’s words: “See you on the road!”


  • 2 rick // Jul 23, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    JERRY You’re too nice. But thanks for all the enthusiasm & kind words. Are you sure you’re a lawyer?

    I’ve also learned: never commit yourself to 12 blog entries in advance. It becomes a bit of a chore, and I didn’t want to interrupt the dozen before finishing. Now I know. It was discipline-building but it took too long, I think. Who knows?

Leave a Comment