_THAT’S THE HIGHWAY_

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* 11 … TO MAKE CONNECTIONS * (04/13/2011)

As their sister entered the business, the eldest sibling greeted her at the front door. She looked at her older brother quizzically, while peering around him to smile at her younger brother, who smiled back, but then went into the office.

“So, what’s going on?” she asked of the elder sibling, who then brought her up to speed about why their younger brother was back home.

She didn’t know quite what to think, so she blurted out, “Why don’t you go with him?”

A brief moment of silence passed between them. Then, seemingly without missing a beat, the oldest said, “You knew what I was planning to do, didn’t you?”

“Yes, of course, I did,” was her swift reply, though she knew it had only been a hunch, but obviously a very good one. “You think I couldn’t tell what was going through your mind?”

“Well, no, I didn’t think you did.” He was startled that she knew, but the more he thought about it, the less surprised he was.

“I’d be willing to bet that you’ve already made some contacts to people along Route 66 about it, too. Which is why you wanted to make sure I’d be able to watch over the business while you were away. You never explained, but I had a hunch.”

“I suppose I’m not surprised that you knew,” the eldest said. “And, yes, I have made some contacts. I’ve called people in Illinois, particularly Becky at Becky’s Barn and Rich at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. I’ve also called Gary in Paris Springs, Missouri, and Carolyn and Melba in Kansas, and Laurel of Afton Station, Fran at the MidPoint Cafe, Jim Hinckley in Kingman, Arizona, as well as Debra at the Barstow Museum and Paul at the Victorville Museum.”

He paused and his sister just looked at him, expecting him to say more. So, he added: “I just want to get to know Route 66 more … the way Dad and Mom knew and loved it. And, I get the distinct impression that our younger brother is also longing for that connection. What about you?”

She didn’t know what to say. Instead, she thought back to a conversation before her first year of college.

* 12 … PLANS VERBALIZED * (04/17/2011, day after the “Spring Fling” Meet’n’Greet, Dwight IL)

“Don’t let anyone tell you that small town America doesn’t teach you anything,” her mother had warned as she packed for her first year of college. “Some people just do not understand the benefits and lessons a life in a small town can teach.”

“But, Mom,” she had quietly protested, “college and city life teaches you things, too.”

Her Mom had tried to interrupt, but she continued: “…And I want to experience THOSE lessons. I want to be where people are.”

“People ARE here, you know,” her Mom finally got a word in edgewise. “Your father and I meet people every day here, right along one of the most-famous roads in all of the United States, Route 66. Where else are you going to talk with such a diverse group of people and learn some history at the same time?”

“College,” came her one-word dead-panned reply. Her Mom just shook her head and kept helping her pack.

Remembering that conversation now, the middle sibling knew that they both were right. She was equally convinced that they both came to know that in time, whether either one of them actually verbalized that or not.

She wished her parents were still around to share in what might become an epic family road trip. She knew that going with her brothers would be a good idea, particularly to see relatives in Dwight IL. Still, she knew she had responsibilities on the home front and that a road trip probably wasn’t in the works. Besides, she thought, her brothers didn’t need their sister tagging along. While she liked entertaining the thought of a road trip, the thought of missing visitors at the family business was tough to take, too.

She was still trying to figure out what exactly to say in response to her older brother’s query when the youngest sibling came out of the office.

“So, what do you think, sis?” he asked.

“Uh…,” she stammered, glancing at her elder brother, turning back to her younger sibling and quickly realizing he was asking about why he was back home. “Well, I think it is a great idea. It’d be wonderful if WSM would allow you to broadcast from various places along Route 66.”

“That’s what I’m hoping for,” he replied. “I’m not too keen on starting IN Chicago, but I have a few places I really want to see in Chicagoland along Route 66. And, I want to spend a few days with our relatives in Dwight IL. I found out that they live right near where Route 66 connects to Illinois Route 47. How cool is that? And, I also found out that they have friends in Franklin Grove IL, where the Lincoln Highway national headquarters are. I think I convinced them to look into buying a business along Route 66 there in northern Illinois.”

He paused, then added, “You know, if this trip gets off the ground, you both should really come with me. It’d be great.”

Their sister glanced at the eldest sibling, who glanced back at her.

“Well,” the eldest spoke, turning his glance from his sister to his brother, “That’s kinda what I meant when I told you earlier this morning that we’d talk more later. I’ve been thinking about taking a Route 66 road trip, and I figured we’d go together. Don’t know about sis, though.”

She felt put on the spot a bit, as her two brothers turned to look directly at her. “I’d love to, but I really want to stay here with the business and greet people. Besides, I have my family responsibilities, too.”

As soon as she had uttered her last word, a few visitors walked into the business, a start to another awesomely busy day of people from all over the world visiting.

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