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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Not enough hours

August 11th, 2008 ·

All weekend I’m working on editing the program and getting things ready for our trip to New York. Buddy Nutt the composer, vocalist and one-man-band, stops by on Saturday to talk about music for the promos, and he’s as cooperative and interested and helpful as I knew he would be. I’m embarrassed because I have to shove him out the downstairs door of WQED at 2:35 as I quickly gather my public-speaking paraphernalia because I forget I am supposed to be at Barnes & Noble in Monroeville. I jump in my car, speed out to the bookstore, and apologize to some of the folks who are waiting to meet me. dsc00005bn.jpgI give out some promo DVDs of To Market To Market To Buy A Fat Pig, and I ask a set of trivia questions, most of them linked to the Pittsburgh 250 celebration that’s going on this year. I think that’s why I was invited to Barnes & Noble. It was their Pittsburgh Days.

Sunday I finish up my first swipe at the story about Kim Perkins and her used bookstore in North Platte, Nebraska. Then I drive home, do a load of laundry, pack my bags, and get back to work to do 12 more things, including starting the story about Richard Grudzinski and his gas station in Grand Island, Nebraska. I go home at 11:30 pm. Zonked.

Today I’m up early. My back aches. Or is that my left kidney? I get to work by 8, wearing shorts (against our dress code!), finish up some loose ends on the gas station story, gather all my releases and tapes for the trip. As always on days like this, I’m relieved to find Glenn and Bob both here, loading the van. We have, as usual, 1700 more things to do. They go and get gas in the van, check the air pressure in the tires (Barack Obama was right — they were under-inflated), dsc00468t2.jpgbuy windshield wiper fluid, some bottles of water, and pretzel nuggets for munching inn the van. We finally get out the WQED driveway around 11 AM.

dsc00475.jpgIt’s a glorious sunny day, but cool. Bob jokes, “We start our journey on a brisk October morning.” There is a slightly autumnal crispness in the air. We’re late, so we hop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Irwin, then we get on Route 30.

At Greensburg, you start to see lots of Lincoln Highway signs. Old segments of the original highway (or various intermediate routes from over the years) turn off of 30 at unusual angles to the north and south. You’d need a lot of time to explore all the possibilties. On the eastern outskirts of Greensburg, we take the one old segment that runs by the Mountain View Inn. This is the segment that Brian Butko first showed to me back in the early 90s, and so it was my first section of the old Lincoln Highway. You never forget your first chunk of historic roadway.

We take our time. We stop and shoot any stuff that looks interesting. As we get near Jennerstown, I say we ought to find the entry posts for the old camping area that Brian Butko mentioned in his interview last Friday. dsc00482t2.jpgHe pointed them out to me 16 years ago, but I don’t remember exactly where they are, so we watch for two stone columns on the north side of 30 as we zip along. I see two squat stone markers on the left, and we pull over to shoot them, but first I call Brian in his office back in Pittsburgh.

Brian helps me figure out that these are NOT the Jenner Pines Camping Park columns. We’re not there yet. He says the words JENNER PINES CAMPING PARK are carved into the columns. Oh, OK. dsc00015t3.jpgHe also suggests we consider the historic marker that’s coming up about Frederick Duesenberg who died on this road back in 1932. Hmm. That sounds interesting.

We stop to get a shot of the Duesenberg marker, put up by the Antique Automobile Club of America. There’s a big brown dog on the other side of the road who doesn’t approve of our activities, and he barks constantly. Tirelessly. We pay him no mind. But his yaps bring out the people who live in the house on our side of the road, the people who have the Duesenberg marker in their yard, and they tell us lots of information. There’s an old stretch of original Lincoln Highway that forks off here to the north, dsc00019t3.jpgand these people point out how it continues on the other side, as what looks like the driveway of the barking dog. They say that old Duesenberg died off that section of the road, sort of back in the trees beyond that house.

These folks also give us a suggestion for lunch: the Coal Miner’s Inn in downtown Jennerstown. They say it looks fancier than it is, that the food is homemade, good and reasonably priced. Sounds perfect for us. We find it. We take advantage of the salad bar. dsc00022cmi.jpgFluffy homemade dinner rolls. The waitress is saucy and smart. She gives us a hard time. And she brings turkey special for me, chicken parmesan for Bob, and raspberry chicken for Glenn. The portions are huge. Great desserts too.

After lunch, we have to drive back west a half mile or so to find the Jenner Pines stone markers, and we get a shot or two, knowing that we have to get going. We were supposed to be at the Lincoln Motor Court at 2, and it’s already 2:30. We need more time. The hours fly by on the Lincoln Highway.dsc00040t3.jpg

Tags: Road Diary

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Diane // Aug 15, 2008 at 10:23 am

    If you would like any information about the Illinois portion of the Lincoln Highway — which is the only portion designated as a National Scenic Byway — please send me an email or give me a call at 866-455-4249. We have lots of projects coming up including 20 gazebos and 40 more murals! I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary.

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