A Blog Along The Lincoln Highway

All of this is about a public TV project about one of America’s great roads, and we’re hoping you might enjoy reading about some of our behind-the-scenes work. I’m Rick Sebak, and I write most of the tales. Bob Lubomski is our cameraman. And Glenn Syska has been traveling with us recently. He made the video blog entries in 2008. Back in 2007, Jarrett Buba did all that. A RIDE ALONG THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY first aired on PBS on October 29, 2008 at 8 PM. Check with your local PBS station to find out about repeat broadcasts. Or go for the DVD at www.shopwqed.org.

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June 24th, 2008 ·

We’re up early in Missouri Valley, Iowa. I forget if we’re meeting at 7:30 or 8:00 for breakfast, and I split the difference, finding Bob and Glenn waiting for me in the lobby when I carry two of my bags out to the van at 7:45. We go nearby to a small restaurant in the back of a gas station and convenience store where there’s a small breakfast buffet. We talk about George Carlin who just died. We had talked about him in the van one day, I can’t remember why. My favorite memories of him are from the old John Davidson summer musical revue show where Carlin in his early (much straighter) years used to mock the bizarrre, rapid fire vocal styles of top-40 disc jockeys. “Wonderful WINO!”

dsc00089a.jpgI drive from Missouri Valley to Woodbine along route 30, and we arrive at the Brick Street Station around 9 am. Marshall Scichilone (who owns and runs the old drive-through gas station converted to a coffeehouse) has invited Woodbine’s mayor and city clerk to come and meet us, and the smart young woman who puts together local newspaper, the Woodbine Twiner, is there too with her camera.

It’s one of those situations where everybody is a little awkward and off-kilter because the TV crew is there. Bob gets b-roll shots. We interview several folks. Marshall’s sister-in-law, Norma, is baking pies and cinammon rolls in the little kitchen at the one end of the place. dsc00067a.jpgIt’s homey and small town and charming. The baked goods are the great unifier. Everyone is charmed by the smells coming from the oven. There’s a coconut cream pie already sitting on the counter. We’re told there’s a berry and a lemon meringue on the way.

The whole place is decorated with a remember-the-good-old-days theme, much of it enhanced with Lincoln Highway signs and memorabilia.

Woodbine has lots of charms, but its long stretch of bricked roadway is what convinced us to turn in here originally as we passed by on Route 30 last year.

We didn’t know there would be sublime cinammon rolls iced with peanut butter. A great combination.

dsc00002b.jpgWe hang around and shoot and interview till we think we’ve got the structure of a story or at least a snapshot of this place and some opinions on how a small town can try to capitalize on the highway in a world where American history tourism is getting more popular all the time.

We also go to the other end of Woodbine to another old portico-front gas station where we meet Elaine Ehlert who collects Lincoln Highway “stuff” (she says she loves that word) and she’s put together several displays that feature pictures, maps and highlights of the highway as it passes through 13 states. dsc00049.jpgShe has books of photos old and new (including her incredible photo documentation of the preservation of the brick Lincoln Way in 2002 when it was re-done meticulously and beautifully.)

We also meet Elaine’s sister, Linda and her two grandsons whom we draft into service as “people walking by on the sidewalk.”dsc00018a.jpg
After our visit with Elaine, we go back to the Brick Street Station for lunch. Chicken salad sandwiches are one of today’s specials, and we all get those. There’s a group of people from the University of Iowa (or maybe Iowa State) who are in Woodbine today working on the Main Street Initiative or something like that, and they’re expected back here soon for lunch too. dsc00790.jpgWe foresee that the choice of pie flavor may become an issue, so Glenn and Bob and I all make sure we get a piece of Norma’s mixed berry beauty. With ice cream.

Bob and Glenn rig up our little camera mount on the side of the van and they go off to get some unusual angles on the brick streets. dsc00080a.jpgI stay at the Station to talk for a few minutes with Nikki Davis from the Twiner who has come back to interview me (and to perhaps more importantly to get a root beer float.)

It’s a great small town, a cool little converted gas station, and we hope we can convince more folks to make the small detour into Woodbine when they’re zipping across the USA on the old Lincoln Highway. dsc00016b.jpgIt surprisingly feels like home.

Tags: Road Diary

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nikki Davis // Jun 24, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    It was a fabulous experience having Rick, Bob and Glenn visit our wonderful town. The trio of travelers were knowledgeable, polite … and hungry. We hope they will remember the time and people they met in the wonderful town of Woodbine … and come back some time for a piece of Norma’s fresh-baked pie!

  • 2 Laura // Jun 24, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Hey, I’m a “Twiner” (nick-name for people from Woodbine). I’m glad to see our little town getting a some positive attention! Can’t wait to see the documentary! Good luck to you!

  • 3 Duane Mann // Jun 24, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Great!!!! Article and good for Woodbine. We have got to start appreciating what we have more!

  • 4 Renee // Jun 25, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Hey – seems like all you guys are doing is eating!! What a trip!! Can’t wait to hear more about it when you get home. By the way… get Glenn back here so I can use and abuse him!! :) Be safe!!

  • 5 Bob // Jun 26, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Can’t wait to get to Woodbine. I’m Bob, one-half of the Buddy and Bob team traveling the LH from San Francisco to Times Square on Piaggio MP3 motorscooters. Rick from the WQED film team told us to be sure to stop and spend some time. We expect to arrive the morning of June 30th.

  • 6 Rita Scichilone // Jun 26, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    These are great shots – I always miss out on something when I’m working away from home! Nashville, TN and Chicago IL this week.
    Thank you for telling our story along with all of the other wonderful places along the way.

  • 7 Jerry and Mary Lea Purcell // Jul 5, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    We haven’t lived in Woodbine for over fifty years, but when we go there to visit, we still tell people that were “going back home.” We have even bought a burial plot there for our final trip “back home.”

  • 8 Marcia Smith // Jul 8, 2008 at 10:01 am

    My parents both group up in Woodbine . I remember trips back in the summers to visit all of our O’Banion cousins. We loved to walk down the main street and go to the drugstore for ice cream or visit the variety store to buy something to remember our trips by. I hope to make it back to Woodbine someday. It holds alot of fond memories both in town and at Uncle Joe’s farm.

  • 9 Tom and Mary Lou Lockard // Jul 29, 2008 at 11:05 am

    We drove through beautiful Woodbine and stopped at the Brick Street Station in early July on our roadtrip to Evanston, Wyoming and the national Lincoln Highway conference. Places like this where the locals understand what a great treasure the LH is and make it an important part of their culture is the reason why we enjoy traveling on the Father Road so much.

  • 10 Rick Sebak’s Blog » #3. A key note? // Jul 10, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    […] the story we made for Woodbine, Iowa.  (Losing any story is hard, but it’s part of this business, and it’s never […]

  • 11 drew // Aug 27, 2009 at 11:16 am

    there is alot of historical facts here in woodbine.

  • 12 Keagan Barrett // Aug 27, 2009 at 11:18 am

    good shots our class is going down to see it tommorow

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