20/20 Vision Opens Tonight in Lake County

May 22, 2015 by


20/20 Vision: Travels Along America’s Accidental Highway opens tonight at the Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art in Lake County. Come see the images reunited on the walls of the Wright Gallery and meet the photographers during a gallery reception from 7-9pm!

The exhibit runs through June 26.

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Back-to-School Lunch

August 31, 2012 by

Lunch BoxBoise, Idaho© jan albers | all rights reserved© jan albers | all rights reserved

Boise, Idaho

Birthplace Bragging Rights

May 28, 2012 by

Waterloo, N.Y., claims the official title as birthplace of Memorial Day, but down South, a feud about the holiday’s origins still simmers.

Nugent Hardware

May 27, 2012 by

Nugent HardwareWaterloo, New York© karen e. titus | all rights reserved© karen e. titus | all rights reserved

Waterloo, New York

This business hasn’t traveled far since opening in 1887 – it started two doors up the street from its current site, according to owner William B. Velte Jr. It moved to this spot in 1932.

Velte bought the store in 1965. Apart from a 28-month stint in the service, starting in 1950, he’s been a steady presence. “I love to fix screens and windows,” he says. Velte started working in the store in the winter of 1948, right out of high school, earning $26 a week. The first thing his boss told him: “If we have another Depression, you’re gonna have to take a cut in pay.”

Velte says the secret of his success is simple. “Work. 60 hours a week. I clean the streets, I clean the parking lot, I don’t take coffee breaks.”

Though he appears to sell everything in his store, it’s not quite the case. At one point his daughter (who began working at the store when she was a 4th grader) came by with a customer. She told her dad, “He’s looking for a propane fogger.”

Not even bothering to look up from the screen he was repairing, Velte replied, “That’s not us.”

Hard Bargain

April 21, 2012 by

Hard BargainShipshewana, Indiana© karen e. titus | all rights reserved© karen e. titus | all rights reserved

Shipshewana, Indiana

Shipshewana claims to be home to the Midwest’s largest outdoor flea market. It’s also a place for the van-driving set and the buggy-driving set to do a little business.


March 19, 2012 by

Pet ParadeLe Grange, Illinois© karen e. titus | all rights reserved© karen e. titus | all rights reserved

Le Grange, Illinois

The Pet Parade in La Grange, Ill., which takes place on Route 20, has been putting paws on the pavement since 1946. Categories for participants (from the official registration form) include:

• Dogs & Pals: “You and your dog walking!”

• Pets & Pals: “You and your pet that is not a dog or a stuffed animal or just come in costume!”

• Pals on Wheels: “All of our friends on wheels! Bring your bikes, skateboards, scooters or rollerblades!”

The parade clearly welcomes diversity – a nice reflection on Route 20 itself in this part of the state, where the road is also known as La Grange Road, Mannheim Road, Highway 12, and Route 45.

Git Western!

March 5, 2012 by
Helen DavisBurns, Oregon© jan albers | all rights reserved

© jan albers | all rights reserved

Helen Davis
Burns, Oregon

“Either of you named Jan?” A short, sturdy woman bounded out of the Harney County Historical Society building and headed to a station wagon parked in the small lot in front.

I got out of the car and acknowledged I was indeed Jan. “Good. I’m Helen,” she said. “Git your stuff and come with me. Take everything you need – we’re getting lunch and heading for the BLM.”

Helen Davis commandeered us with her energy and strength over the next 10 hours. Neatly dressed in a white blouse, a bow tie under her pleasant but determined face, wearing a lavender polyester pantsuit, she looked like a high school counselor and spoke like a woman of the West.

“Your letter came to the Historical Center. They tossed it to me and wondered if I’d like to follow it up. It intrigued me. I even looked to see where Highway 20 ends – found it in an old book, ending at the Naval Yards in Boston.”

She drove with purpose, outlining the places we would see that day: the Bureau of Land Management to meet Mark Armstrong; the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, to talk with Gary Ivey; the lava beds; the round barn erected by Peter French, once the area’s most successful rancher (until he was shot dead); the P Ranch and the Diamond Hotel.

But her first stop was the supermarket, where she went in for our lunches. Scanning my notes on Route 20, I could find none of the places she mentioned. Were they on the highway? Maybe she knew something I didn’t.

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What’s in a Name

February 27, 2012 by

Beginning of Route 20Boston, Massachusetts© jan albers | all rights reserved© jan albers | all rights reserved

End of Route 20Boston, Massachusetts© jan albers | all rights reserved© jan albers | all rights reserved

Boston, Mashachusetts
© jan albers | all rights reserved

In Boston, Route 20 either begins or ends, depending on which direction you’re facing. Speaking historically, however, Boston is part of the road’s beginning, where it was originally called the King’s Highway. Later the name was changed to the Upper Boston Post Road, when it became part of a colonial mail route between Boston and New York. The road roughly follows the Old Connecticut Path, a Native American trail that extended from Massachusetts Bay to the Connecticut River.

End of Road, West

February 14, 2012 by

End of the RoadNewport, Oregon© karen e. titus | all rights reserved© karen e. titus | all rights reserved

Newport, Oregon

The Yaquina Bay Bridge, opened in 1936, is on U.S. Route 101, the north-south route at the far western edge of Newport.  Route 20 comes to an abrupt end at 101, with no fanfare whatsoever. The view of the bridge offers a nice coda at the end of the accidental highway.

Meeting Place

February 6, 2012 by

Hay Springs, Nebraska© jan albers | all rights reserved© jan albers | all rights reserved

Coffee Cup Cafe, Hay Springs, Nebraska

This is the story told to us about the restaurant by Selma Kudrna, who owned a tax services business in town and who was volunteering the day we stopped by, in 1991:

The owner, Blanche de Haven, is a farm woman. Two young fellas bought the cafe, coming up with the cash with Blanche’s help – she cosigned on a loan. The business was going well until the sheriff came in one day and arrested one of the men, who had a prison record and had been stealing money from the business – and who’d cosigned on the loan.

Blanche, who’s in her late 70s, then took over the cafe herself. She gets up every morning between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. to do her farm chores, then heads to the restaurant, where she works until the afternoon. She’s helped by folks in town who volunteer at the restaurant one day a week to keep it running.

They don’t mind helping. One patron sums up the community spirit neatly: “Along here, we own our towns.”

They did mind when Blanche raised the price of a cup of coffee from a quarter to 30 cents – especially since the senior center across the street sells a cup of coffee for only a quarter.

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