The JonnyOptimo Project

Pictures from my cameras and sometimes things that interest me.
Scenes from the Far Northwest Side: Hotel

Scenes from the Far Northwest Side: Hotel

Chicago: Baby don’t you wanna go?

Chicago: Baby don’t you wanna go?

Somewhere in Wisconsin

Somewhere in Wisconsin

"Oh those wasted hours, we used to know Spent the summer staring out the window”

"Oh those wasted hours, we used to know
Spent the summer staring out the window”



Scenes from the Far Northwest Side: House

Scenes from the Far Northwest Side: House

Chicago: Over by the Brick Yard

Chicago: Over by the Brick Yard

americanguide:

ILLINOIS: TRIP 4A (From 1939 WPA American Guide Series, Illinois Edition)

Driving  through North Central Illinois on I-39 or I-88 can be pretty uneventful. Just like in most of middle America, highways through these parts skirt around cities, zip over rivers and slice through farm fields. The big green exit signs display names of the “biggest small” towns such as Byron, Dixon, and Rochelle, IL. When you use these exits, most often before seeing anything else, you stumble upon typical fast food chains and gas stations; most highway travelers never even make it to the towns that the highway exit is marked for. The reality is that if you want something more than a value meal from a drive-through or a very questionable convenience store hot dog, you actually have to navigate past these modern day distractions and make your way down the state road until your find yourself in the actual town that these roads were built for.

It is in these towns that you may find a little family restaurant or the town bar—the establishments that use to be the hub of these towns, the towns that were the home of so many proud families. Unfortunately now that the super highway exit ramps spit cars into the parking lot of the first McDonald’s off the the highway, these towns no longer see the benefits of the American traveler.

On my recent journey to explore Trip 4A from the 1939 WPA American Guide Series Illinois edition—called “Rockford, IL to Dixon, IL via Byron, Oregon and Grand Detour”—I found myself on Illinois Route 2 (now designated as a “Blue Star Memorial Highway”). As the road wound through rural Illinois, I felt the appreciation for a time when people actually traveled through towns instead of around them. It is on Trip 4A that you see the scenic views of the Rock River and pass through the epicenter of the historic Black Hawk War. As you stumble upon small town after small town and you take the time to stop at a drive-in for a root beer float, you realize that life moves way too fast on America’s modern day highways. These history-rich and beautiful sites are simply skirted around and zipped by at 75mph as if they aren’t even there.

State 2, the Black Hawk Trail, between Rockford and Dixon is a route of historical interest and scenic beauty. The road and the region, popularly known as the Black Hawk Country, are named for the proud war chief of the Sauk and Fox, who, upon his exile from the State in 1833, said of this valley: “Rock River was a beautiful country. I loved my towns, my cornfields, and the home of my people. I fought for it. It is now yours. Keep it as we did.”

Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (WPA, 1939)

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Dan Caruso is a Guide to Illinois and Wisconsin. He grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Chicago to get his masters degree in architecture. He currently works as a project manager for a small local architecture firm, is trying to break into real estate, and wishes he was a photographer. You can see Dan’s photographs on flickr and his tumblr page, jonnyoptimo.tumblr.com. He also likes to keep his trigger finger loose on Instagram.

Check out my latest post on The American Guide!

(Source: americanguide)

Indiana: One day in Brown County

americanguide:

THE PICKUP, AN AMERICAN STORY

The Vinyl Upholstered Bench of a Pickup Truck

The vinyl upholstered bench of a pickup truck is what a vengeful God made to tempt otherwise good men and women to sin. So it was probably Minnesota Lutherans that ripped out the bench and put in two bucket seats divided by cupholders. (As a Minnesotan I’ve learned to blame Lutherans for limiting my sinning: see Volstead Act.)

But God-al-mighty there’s nothing like driving up and down country roads on a summer early evening: the humidity at a pitch and a storm on the way. The pickup cuts through the water-heavy air like a swimming shark (if that swimming shark’s ass was also sticking to the black vinyl bench of the truck). And as you shift gears and push on the gas the bench shakes. So after making eyes, you unbuckle your partner’s seat belt and pull her over, putting your arm around her like you’re at the movies.

You know it’s love when you keep driving—looking for some place to pull over—and keep coming up snake eyes: it’s the laughing and the holding and the talking about what makes a stop inconspicuous or conspicuous for pickup truck sex.   

Tom McNamara, Co.Editor at The American Guide & owner of a Chevy C-10 1964 shortbed pickup named “Blue.” Submission for Steven Brooks’s American Pick Up project.   

Images: Pickups of Washington State by Steven Brooks

About The Pickup, an American Story project: Since pickup trucks first rolled off assembly lines in the 1920s, industrious, hardworking Americans have recognized that, with a truck, they could do even more. During the last nearly 100 years, the pickup truck has become a symbol of American pride and ambition, capturing our hearts and imaginations. The evidence is everywhere. From Hank Williams to Glen Campbell to Taylor Swift, pickups are a longtime staple of country music. As the lyrics tell us, pickups are a faithful friend, a lover’s bed, and the target of a lover’s scorn. They are also a place to bond and build memories. Football-loving Americans are inundated with “Built Ford Tough,” “Chevy Runs Deep,” and “Guts, Glory, Ram,” emanating from their TV screens every fall and winter. Images of rugged men in blue jeans and boots, a long day’s work, then off to the river for fishing (cue the Bob Seger, the big dog, sunset, dust kicking up from the road). It all tugs at our macho, American heartstrings. So it’s undeniable that pickups are etched into our American psyche. It’s no wonder they have been the bestselling vehicles in the country for over 30 years. A pickup says, “I can do that.” Then it says, “I did that.” A pickup wears its dirt and scars like a badge. It tells our story.

I currently own my second pickup and it’s my daily driver. To kick off The Pickup, an American Story, I’ll share a story of my own:

I have a grown son who’s out on his own now.  We didn’t always see eye to eye.  We still don’t, really, but we get together every couple weeks anyway.  We grab burritos or Cuban sandwiches and head to the water’s edge.  I back my pickup truck into a parking spot and we climb into the back.  In the open air, we sit and watch the gulls and boats, eat our food and make small talk.  Invariably, we talk about music:  how country music from the 50s and 60s was among the best American music ever recorded, and new country is the worst.  Or maybe I go on about why Black Whales are the best band to come out of Seattle in a long time, and he tells me that when he listens to Sickbed Blues, by Skip James, he feels it in his stomach, and I know exactly what he means.  We feed our leftovers to the seagulls and crows—tossing scraps into the air from the back of the truck—and I know we’re gonna be alright, he and I.  We’re gonna be just fine.

What’s YOUR story?  Please share your American story involving a pickup truck, whether or not you still own the truck or ever did.  One or two paragraphs about how a pickup has impacted your life. Even simple anecdotes are welcome.  Need help putting your story into words?  No problem!  Scribble out the gist and I’ll edit it for the site.  If you know somebody else who might have something to share, please spread the word.  It does not have to involve an American pickup.  (I own a Toyota pickup and my story is no less American.)  If you have a couple photos, please include them.  We’d all love to see the trucks, but it’s also nice to see the faces of those who love them.  After all, these stories are more about you.  Please submit to www.yourpickupstory.tumblr.com.

—Steven Brooks

Editor’s note: If you haven’t already, click through to yourpickupstory.tumblr.com and follow along.

Here at the A/G, we LOVE the idea of Steven’s project and as your submissions roll in we’ll feature some of the stories and images on The American Guide. Keep on truckin, mama.

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Steven Brooks is a photographer based in Seattle, Washington. His work focuses primarily on landscapes of the American roadside. In an effort to have the road all to himself as much as possible, he does much of his shooting during the pre-dawn hours, armed with a tripod, old boots, and gas station coffee.

More of his work can be seen on his website (www.stevenbrooksphoto.com), his Tumblr (www.steven-brooks.tumblr.com) and on Flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/steven-brooks).

(Source: americanguide)