Elaine Stronich holds an autograph that Paul McCartney signed for her when he visited the Route 66 Museum in Joliet. (Michael R. Schmidt/Sun-Times News Group)
Beatle, Bronco hit back roads
August 10, 2008http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/hoekstra/1099761,CST-NWS-BEATLE10.article
7:20 p.m. Aug. 6
How great is it that Paul McCartney and his girlfriend Nancy Shevell are checking out Route 66?
Maybe I'm amazed.
Cultural disconnect has always been a problem with famous artists and songwriters. Route 66 is a good way to reclaim your roots.
Until the news of McCartney's journey broke on Wednesday, the couple could pretty much check out things in anonymity. Now everyone will be on the lookout for McCartney's green '89 Ford Bronco with New York plates.
I asked C.J. Lowder, of Springfield, what surprised him after his chance meeting with McCartney at a Springfield gas station.
"That he would be traveling without a limo. Without security guards. Or, why didn't he stop at a better place to go to a bathroom than a Circle K?''
McCartney "was in a T-shirt and slacks, as casual as a guy on a Saturday drive,'' Lowder added.
12:45 p.m. Aug. 7
So I woke up around 6:30 a.m. wondering, what if by some minute chance, that really isn't Paul McCartney traveling Route 66? Paul was dead once, too. On deadline, I checked all my facts, assembled time sequences and asked hard questions. Everything added up, and I stand behind my story.
Still, it is a silly concept that in this day and age, Sir Paul would take to America's backroads without any apparent security.
But, then, he wrote "Silly Love Songs.''
Tony Contos, interim executive director of the Joliet Area Historical Museum, viewed a security tape of McCartney's visit. "They watched the Route 66 movie,'' he said on Wednesday. Contos said major news organizations have offered big bucks for the tape, but the museum declined the offers.
McCartney and Shevell stopped in the gift shop to pick up some Route 66 maps, and he signed the museum's vintage Route 66 shield.
By Tuesday night, bloggers and roadies reported that McCartney had made it to Oklahoma City.
5:05 p.m. Aug. 8
It is not who you know, but where you stand.
That's one bit of maverick advice I would give my wonderful 5-year-old nephew Jude. It worked out for Don Dunavin, the owner of the Record Rack used CD and record store in Amarillo, Texas. Dunavin was hanging around a convenience store off of Route 66 on Wednesday evening when he heard that Paul McCartney was in town.
Dunavin called his wife, Lori, and they headed to the Ambassador Hotel where McCartney was staying. Lori brought along their 4-month-old son Jude.
"We hung out at the hotel for about 30 minutes," Dunavin said Friday from the Record Rack. "I was holding Jude and he walked right in front of us near the entrance of the hotel. I took two steps forward and shook his hand. He immediately went to Jude, grabbed his hand and started talking to him. He didn't even know his name."
So Dunavin, 44, asked Sir Paul to guess his boy's name.
"After we told him he was Jude, he said, 'I got something for him,' " Dunavin recalled. McCartney reached into his pocket and pulled out a miniature harmonica. He bent down and started playing for Jude. "Not anything in particular," Dunavin continued. "Jude was smiling at him. I told my wife to get the camera out and take a picture and he immediately quit. He said, 'Please, no pictures.' He wouldn't do any autographs. But then he started playing some more. It all took no longer than a couple of minutes. He had no security and he was traveling in an '89 Ford Bronco."
Of course the Dunavins are Beatles fans. "After we saw that movie 'Across the Universe,' Lori fell in love with the main character Jude," he said. "That's what finally made her decide on that name." Their son is named Jude Alexander. My nephew is Jude Aron, although I would call him Jude Rascal.