She’s still getting her kicks on Route 66, and much more

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on She’s still getting her kicks on Route 66, and much more
Jan 212016

Terri Ryburn - Sprague Super Station, Normal IL

Terri Ryburn – Sprague Super Station, Normal IL

I have met with Terri a couple times a few years back and she is a genuine person who really would like to see this gas station reopened and enjoyed by all the Route 66 travelers…

From those of us who embrace the Route 66 mythology that comes with living here in its shadow, today’s GO! cover story subject is owed a big debt of gratitude.

As if you didn’t already know that, per her many history presentations, books on the subject and even comedy club routines.

But we’re especially delighted to see that the tireless Terri Ryburn is doing her bit to get both us and That Road on a movie screen near us.

Move over “Grapes of Wrath,” “Cars,” “Two-Lane Blacktop,” “Bagdad Cafe” and all you other cinematic pretenders to the throne — including the fabled ’60s TV series of the same name (“Route 66,” with Martin Milner and George Maharis tooling away for an hour a week).

Ryburn thinks that series has aged none too well, leaving room for improvement.

As chronicled in the story above, Ryburn is hoping to do just that via the odyssey of the fictional pop duo, Hank & Rita.

The proposed film would involve tracking the married pair’s travels through a succession of small, obscure clubs … from Chicago to “Saint Louey” to Barstow to all the stops name-checked by Bobby Troup in a certain kicks-oriented anthem.

If it’s not exactly “the horror, the horror” stuff of “Heart of Darkness,” we’re advised that the road trip marks the gradual disintegration of a union … in fact, the one that comes to a head in the Hank & Rita show we’ll be seeing next weekend at the Bloomington Eagles Club.

If the movie is made, there’s been no word yet on what venues along this stretch of the road might serve as moment-of-truth stops.

So feel free to send your suggestion this way, and we’ll pass them along to Hank and/or Rita.

But back to Terri Ryburn, whose other big Mother Road project of the moment continues apace, at her own pace.

Which she admits is pretty much one mile on the odometer at a time.

Namely, her efforts on behalf of the historic former Sprague Service Station perched alongside Old U.S. 66 on East Pine Street in Normal, where it has stood since 1931.

“I have no money,” she admitted to us recently with the good spirits that fuel her “second career” as a stand-up comedian hereabouts.

“But I have managed to cobble together grants, and to keep plugging away at it!”


She purchased the two-story, 3,600-square-foot Tudor Revival-style gas station nearly nine years ago.

The first Pantagraph story on the project, in May 2007, announced that the then-75-year-old edifice would be reborn as a bed-and-breakfast, with tea room, gift shop and restaurant.

She has since received grants from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program of the National Park Service and the Town of Normal, which have slowly but surely allowed the project to move forward.

Bringing us up to date, she notes that “I’m getting a new parking lot in the spring and opening a Route 66 visitor center and gift shop.”

In addition, she says, “I’m working on a grant application for exterior work … tuck-pointing of brick … repair of stucco and timber … and painting.”

We’re not trying to stage-direct the movie from our desk across town at the newspaper, but …

We think that the Sprague Station would be a perfect fit for Hank & Rita to come to some moment of their truth … even though, technically, the drama would be taking place in the middle ’80s, when the station was a decade past its life as a gas station and three decades prior to its rebirth as a tea room/etc.

So haul out the artistic license, we say, and let’s dovetail Ryburn’s two big Mother Road dreams into one big fat fantasia of movies, music and memories.

All-singing, all-dancing … all kicks.

Lori Ann Cook-Neisler – The Pantagraph

Atlanta IL to host Electric Vehicle Cruise-In on Route 66

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Atlanta IL to host Electric Vehicle Cruise-In on Route 66
Apr 152013

ATLANTA — A motorist traveling Route 66 in 1926, the year the highway was officially commissioned, might have had trouble finding a gas station.

“If you wanted gas for your automobile, you had to go to the local hardware or grocery store,” said Bill Thomas, director of the Atlanta Betterment Fund. “You would find a single gas pump the owner had put in to make a little cash.”

Times evolved to the point where automobile traffic increased and service stations were born — and historians point to the Original Mother Road as one of the reasons.

Now, Thomas says, Route 66 is poised to help create the next big transportation infrastructure development: charging stations for electric vehicles. Thomas believes Route 66 can once again lead the way.

With that in mind comes Illinois’ First Electric Vehicle Cruise-In, scheduled 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 8 in Atlanta.

“It is a different spin on an old tradition,” said Joe Mikulecky, chairman of the Bloomington-Normal EVTown Task Force, which is assisting Thomas. “It should be a lot of fun and should draw attention to the goal of creating more charging stations along the Route 66 corridor.”

Thomas said discussion about an electric vehicle cruise-in started about two years ago.

Normal is doing a wonderful job of promoting electric vehicles and we really hope that this event will take it a step further for our efforts,” he said.

According to Mikulecky, there are 140 electric vehicle owners in the Central Illinois area; 18 charging stations will be available at the cruise-in for no fee. All electric and hybrid car owners are invited. There will be hourly door prize drawings, vintage music, food and information on how Atlanta is working to establish charging stations along Route 66.

“Everybody is invited no matter what they drive, but what I would really like to see is some thing different,” he said. “In the early 1900s, there were vehicles that had to be recharged. I am not sure exactly how it worked, but it would be fascinating to see something like that at the event.”

By Kevin Barlow – Pantagraph

Our (partial) Route 66 trip – Day 1

 Daily, Illinois, Missouri, Route 66 States  Comments Off on Our (partial) Route 66 trip – Day 1
Jun 222011

The mission was to get from Chicago to Scottsdale as fast as possible – with minimal stops. Now – add in the fact we follow Route 66 for 85% of the drive – there are several people and places I have to / want to see, and 1800 miles is tough on just about anyone – ‘as fast as possible’ turned into ‘whenever we get there….’

I started our trip by making a quick stop over to the Sprauge Super Station in Normal IL to say ‘hi’ to Terry Ryburn and check on her progress with the station.

She updated me and we walked around the property for 20 minutes as she was pointing out what still had to be done. She mentioned the Route 66 Association of Illinois were coming out in Aug to do some interior work – if you want to help them / her in Aug – contact them association – I am sure they would love for you to stop out! If you want to help by sending a few dollars to further her progress – click HERE for more information.

After I said my ‘good-byes’ – we headed south. Now – I will almost NEVER travel throughout the southern part of Illinois on the route without stopping in and seeing Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch! Although he was closed and he was running around bar-b-queing he took 15 minutes and spoke to Juliana about the property, Big Red and Montana. She enjoyed the time and thought Rich was nothing but a ‘sweet man’.

So, for the first time of all the times I have been at Rich’s place, I hoped on the Giant Rabbit and took a picture!

We continued our way thru St. Louis and stopped the night in Springfield MO. We wanted to stop short of Joplin so we can tour it in the daytime.

Low and behold – we listening to air raid sirens and the hotel asked everyone to gather in a conference room for the fear of possible approaching tornados.

All was good – for the time and we decided to turn in and in the morning drive the 60 minutes to Joplin to check out the damage.
More on that tomorrow…

Owner of Sprauge’s Super Service Station passes away…

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Owner of Sprauge’s Super Service Station passes away…
Jan 092011

NORMAL — William H. Sanders, 77, Normal, died at 6:42 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 6, 2011) at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Normal.

A light lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 16 followed by a celebration of life service at Laughs Comedy Club, 108 E. Market St., Bloomington. Cremation rites will be accorded.

Memorials may be made to Alzheimer’s Association. Beck Memorial Home, Bloomington, is in charge of arrangements.

He was born Aug. 23, 1933, at Springfield, son of John and Helen Moore Sanders. He married Terri Ryburn on Oct. 4, 1998, Bloomington. She survives.

Also surviving are daughter, Vicki (Brian) Jones, Polo; stepdaughters, Stacie (Steve) Spiecker, Bloomington, and Amy (Jim) Heisler, Hickory, N.C.; grandchildren, Joshua Jones, Jessika Miramontes, Olivia Spiecker, Erika Spiecker, Jimmy Heisler and Nicholas Heisler; and several nieces and nephews.

His parents preceded him in death.

He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War era. Bill was a driver for Brandt Truck Lines of Bloomington and Martin Brower of Gridley.

He was a graduate of University High School and attended Illinois State Normal University.

Bill was a member of the McLean County Seniors Golf Association. He was an avid golfer in which one of his greatest accomplishments was getting three holes-in-one. Bill was currently working with his wife in restoring an historic service station on Route 66.

Online condolences may be sent to

Copyright 2011 All rights reserved.

Help the Sprague’s Super Service – Buy a 2011 Calendar!

 Help Route 66, Illinois  Comments Off on Help the Sprague’s Super Service – Buy a 2011 Calendar!
Oct 042010

We are selling ‘Pics on Route 66’ 2011 Calendar by David Schwartz.

These are full colored calendars filled with photos and information about the history, the people, and the places along Route 66.

We are selling these for $20 each and every dollar will be donated to the Sprague’s Super Service Station on Normal IL to help them with their restoration process.

The $20 price includes shipping within the continental United States.

Please help us support a fantastic cause and help keep another piece of history on Route 66 alive!

Get one for yourself and get a few more for gifts!!

If you place an order – please make sure you include your mailing address as well as your EMail address.

Thank you for your support!

Sprague’s Super Service Station needs your help!!

 Help Route 66, Illinois  Comments Off on Sprague’s Super Service Station needs your help!!
Sep 212010

Sprague’s Super Service in Normal, IL is in the process of being restored. I met with Terri Ryburn and I told her I will do what I can to help this Historical Route 66 landmark reopen and have it be used by all travelers driving Route 66.

Terri Ryburn, a Route 66 author, bought the property in 2006. In 2007, Ryburn received a cost-share grant from the NPS to develop a Historic Structures Report to guide the building’s restoration and funds to replace the roof over the garage and make repairs to the ground floor restrooms. Additional money came from the Town of Normal, which funded the replacement of the building’s main roof; a separate grant from the State of Illinois paid for a new HVAC system. In 2008, Ryburn worked to get the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Illinois Route 66 Association has even pitched in with demolition and the installation of plumbing fixtures.

Ryburn has plans to turn the old Sprague’s Super Service into a visitor center, coffee shop, tea room and a public meeting space.

After Grant money ran out, she is hoping the Town of Normal will help with TIF money, but she told me that could be a year or two out (if it all).

She has been using every extra dime from her pay check to get the building open. She told me she has a long way to go – but was hoping to get at least the front area finished for visitors to finally stop by and see the building.

I told her – like I tell ever other business on the route – I will do what I can to help. This means everything from getting the word out – to raising funds – to grabbing a paintbrush – to hanging drywall!

How can you help?? Terri does not have a website for the station. She does not have a PayPal account – she told me travelers/visitors would read a sign on the window that says: “Please help us raise $$$ for the building” and they would slip $5 or $10 under the door. She would use that money for as many materials as she can.

Donations can be sent directly to Terri at:
Terri Ryburn
Sprague’s Super Service Station
305 E. Pine Street
Normal, IL 61761-1767

Please note: donations are NOT tax deductable. Also, let her know you find out about her fund raising from the Route 66 World website. This way we can see how efficient this campaign is.

Another way to send donations to Route 66 World via PayPal.
EVERY cent will be given to Terry to help her get the station open!
Click the button below and please put in your full name, and E-mail address so we can notify you when Terry receives the money.

Yet another way to help this cause is to share this article via FaceBook or Email. Go to our FaceBook page Click Here and ‘SHARE’ this with all of your friends and family members that supprot and travel Route 66!

Thank you so much for your support!!