The series continues in Atlanta, highlighting the community’s connections to Route 66. The episode explores the creation of the “Mother Road” (and early adventurers on it), its appeal to international travelers, the impact tourism is having on Atlanta’s future, and roadside attractions such as Bunyon’s Giant, the enormous statue that once stood in front of Bunyon’s hot dog stand in Cicero but that now calls Atlanta home. Special guests include John Goldsmith from the DeMoulin Museum in Greenville sharing some of the costumes and pranks the DeMoulin brothers made for fraternal organizations across the country, including the one that is now the Atlanta Museum.
Chris Vallillo and the Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra are going to perform music that captures the character and culture of Atlanta while Kevin Wood is on hand as Abraham Lincoln to share his thoughts on the place.
Dinner is provided before the program.
More about the Participants
Lori Cotton was born and raised in Atlanta. After attending Illinois State University in Normal, she eventually began working for State Farm insurance. Lori lived in Normal and Bloomington during her 35-year career and retired as an Enterprise Project Manager in 2014. Upon retirement, Lori moved back to the family farm in Atlanta and strives to support community involvement. Over the years, Lori has volunteered in many capacities for such groups as The United Way, Salvation Army, Home Sweet Home Missions, Habitat for Humanity, Atlanta Needle Work Guild, Atlanta Library Board, and as an OSF Hospice volunteer.
John Goldsmith is the founder and volunteer curator of the DeMoulin Museum in Greenville, IL. Dedicated to the founders and employees of DeMoulin Bros. & Co. and the unique products created by the factory, the museum opened in March 2010 and has attracted over 8,000 visitors from around the world. The museum is as diverse as the company it celebrates. DeMoulin began as a manufacturer of fraternal lodge regalia, paraphernalia, and initiation devices and today is the nation’s leading maker of marching band uniforms. The crazy initiation devices like the trick chair, lung tester, Ferris wheel goat, and lifting and spanking machine have drawn a lot of publicity to the DeMoulin Museum. It’s been highly rated by the travel website Roadside America and frequently shows up on lists of the nation’s most unusual museums. When not playing at the museum, Goldsmith is the marketing director for The First National Bank of Vandalia, IL and is an active volunteer in the community. Earlier this year, he was honored by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution with their Historic Preservation Award, one of only around 30 people nationwide to receive this recognition in 2018. He is the author of the 2004 book Three Frenchmen & A Goat: The DeMoulin Bros. Story and has contributed to two other books about DeMoulin lodge initiations.
Connie Harris grew up in Atlanta and attended Atlanta Grade School and Atlanta High School, graduating in 1964. Her father, Lyle, owned the Atlanta Bakery after returning from World War II and then worked at Caterpillar for 20 years; her mother, Edna, worked for State Farm Insurance Company and for the ASCS office and the County Clerk in Lincoln. After graduating from high school, Connie attended Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois, for three years where she studied vocal music and piano. She taught music for 20 years in the Wapella School System and has had a varied career bringing her love of choir and piano music to her community. She directs the Atlanta Community Choir and the Atlanta Community Band, and she leads the music ministry at Atlanta Christian Church. Connie also has been the pianist for Von Mauer Department Store and BroMenn Medical Center in Bloomington, IL. She has been married to Jon Harris for 51 years; they have two sons, Andrew and Spencer.
Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra
Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra, led by Martha Tyner, is a re-creation of the classic mandolin orchestras, popular from the late 1800’s through the 1930s, and takes its name from a historic Bloomington, IL group.
Victoria Padilla is a proud resident of Atlanta, originally from Joliet. She graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a minor in Creative Writing and is currently working on a Masters in Communication at Illinois State University. Victoria works at Regional Office of Education # 17 serving 30 public districts and 15 private schools. She sits on the Planning Commission in Atlanta and on the board at the Humane Society of Logan County in Lincoln where she also volunteers. She is also part of a small group in Atlanta that started an annual Christmas Tree Lighting last year. In her free time, Victoria enjoys spending time with her husband, Josh, and their two dogs, Roku and Bumi.
Peggy Payne works the front desk at the visitor’s center on Rt. 66 in downtown Atlanta and helps mind the Arch Street Artisans Shop just down the street where local craftspeople and antique dealers occupy over 20 booths. On any given day during tourist season the world shows up at Peggy’s desk. Peggy lives just outside of Atlanta where she and her husband, Les, raise and show horses. She also works as the administrative assistant for the Logan County Economic Development Partnership.
Elise Star is the daughter of Hamlet Arthur Stephens, original owner of “Bunyon’s” hot dog stand on Rt. 66 in Cicero, IL. Art opened Bunyon’s in the early 1960s and in 1965 purchased and installed the now famous 19′ tall statue known as Bunyon’s Giant. The statue sat in front of the hot dog stand for 38 years, becoming a Rt. 66 legend in the process.
Chris Vallillo is a singer/songwriter and folk musician with a natural affinity for American roots music. A master of bottleneck slide guitar, he weaves original, contemporary, and traditional songs into a compelling and entertaining portrait of the history and lifestyle of the Midwest. In the 1980’s he conducted the Schuyler Arts Folk Music Project, documenting the last of the pre radio generation of musicians along the Illinois River. From 1990 through 1998 he served as the performing host and co-producer of the nationally distributed, award-winning public radio performance series Rural Route 3. His one-man show, Abraham Lincoln in Song, received the endorsement of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the accompanying CD charted at #10 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Chart in March of 2008. Chris has twice served as the Illinois Scholar for the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit on roots music, New Harmonies and his 2016 project, Oh Freedom!, Songs of the Civil Rights Movement was released on Martin Luther King Day of 2017 and charted at # 6 of the National Folk charts. Find more about Chris Vallillo.
Kevin Wood has been portraying Abraham Lincoln since 2000, giving more than 450 presentations in thirteen states and two other countries. He spent much of his early life in Metamora, IL, which Lincoln often visited as a circuit-riding attorney. His varied professional background includes investigation and cleanup of Superfund hazardous waste sites, ministry and missions, teaching and coaching.
About the Atlanta Museum
The Atlanta Museum is located at 112 SW Arch Street in Atlanta, IL. Established in 1973, the Museum tells the stories of Atlanta’s growth and development since the town’s founding in 1853. Visitors are guided through Atlanta’s history through a series of collections, including Atlanta Schools, Atlanta Fair, Atlanta Businesses, Atlanta and Route 66, Atlanta’s Military Contribution, Atlanta and Abraham Lincoln, and the Atlanta Civic, Municipal, Religious, and Cultural Collection. The Museum also acts as a resource center for those wishing to learn more about their family history and genealogy.
For more information about this event, please contact Paul Durica at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 422-5583.