Oftentimes I am amazed with how diverse Illinois’ tourist destinations can really be, yet I am frequently amused with how diverse the less traveled unique, possibly irregular tourist destinations are. Several months ago I heard of the village of Gays, in the county of Moultrie had a “double-decker,” two-story outhouse located in the center of town. Of course, this led to curiosity, and in the course of the investigation I discovered that it was only two hours away from the Peoria area. Two words popped into my brain: “Road trip!”
My wife worked that weekend, so she could not accompany me to this unique outhouse on the prairie.
Therefore, I requested the company of my best friend, best man, and oftentimes co-pilot, Austin Simpson to accompany me on a journey southward far past the reaches of BloNo and Chambana. Interstate 57 would be our pathway to a privy. Austin wasn’t content with just seeing an outhouse though. He suggested that The Burger King in Mattoon would be the place to visit for lunch afterwards.
I agreed. After seeing a tower of a lavatory, a good meal would be in order. That’s just the way the story should go.
Here’s Austin in front of the BHC (Brandon Hovey’s Car) Eclipse. She’s a stout craft, and her mileage is good. We left Morton at 8:10 AM and planned to merge onto I-74 at Goodfield.
As an aside, it just isn’t worth getting on the interstate at Morton right now. You are better off using Route 150 if you are going to get to Bloomington-Normal or using Muller Road to get to East Peoria or Peoria.
Besides, The Busy Corner is a real legend! Since 1976 they have been making this field good.
I would have taken some photos, but our time was short and the place was living up to it’s namesake on a Saturday morning. Next time I have their biscuits and gravy I’ll be sure to capture their savory goodness.
After my Pecan Perfection pancakes, Austin and I picked up I-74 and listened to some of The Mothers Of Invention as we got underway.
Sooner or later though, Frank, Flo, Eddie, and the rest of those hepcats ran out of material, and by the sixth track it was time for some Camper Van Beethoven.
As the BHC Eclipse steamed past Chambana and crossed over to I-57, an opportunity arose to stretch our legs and empty the bladders. Who knows, maybe a cup of coffee was in store for us possibly in Tuscola at the Tanger Outlet Center. Next time Austin and I do one of these things we are bringing water.
Here’s The Tanger Outlet Center as seen from I-57.
Here’s another view as we pull into the parking lot.
Way before I ever graduated high school, I’d see this outlet mall twice a year. This was the halfway point to visit my great-grandmother, Flora Fry in Mount Carmel, Illinois. My family would always hit the john and visit the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and the Food Court; I know this entry point all too well.
I’ve crossed this restroom’s threshold many a time.
Except now I’m a little taller, and I’m pretty hungry. We approached a map. “I’m not seeing the food court,” Austin said after he examined the map.
I’m determined to find that food court, I think it used to have a paddle wheel on it’s side, but perhaps that is an invented memory.
Alas, no food court upon further inspection of the central building at the Tanger Outlet Center. So long, Tanger Outlet Center you were a fabulous waypoint on the road to Gays, and quite the nostalgia deposit as well.
After a coffee break we were back on the road, only a few more miles to go until we reach the next and last john. When we reached the road that would take us to Gay’s, Illinois we were sure to snap a shot of the sign as a memento.
The hamlet of three hundred was silent when we arrived. A lone van was the only other vehicle we spotted. It was easy to find the outhouse, and parking was a cinch at 1022 South Pine Street.
Here’s the double decker outhouse in all of its glory!
Austin and I are standing in Gene Goodwin Park. The late Gene Goodwin served as the village president of Gays, and according to the sign he was a “devoted promoter of the two-story outhouse built in 1872.” The park was dedicated in 2001.
The bulletin board that displays all of the press the outhouse garnered over the years, and there was even a ballad written in tribute to this place. The ballad is entitled “The Little Two-Story You Know What of Gays, Illinois.” This piece was penned in 1997 by Jim Conover, the chorus keeps asking the question of: “How do they keep them dainty down below.”
Even though 1997 was only in the last century if the song would have been written today I don’t think dainty would have been the word of choice. This twenty-first century is more plainspoken it seems. Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus would probably demonstrate what a racy song this really could be in 2013. “Clear Brown Lines,” “Privy Lines” or “I Can’t Stop (Before I Reach The Potty).” Any ways the culture just pops and fizzles from this two story outhouse...this watchtower over irritable bowel syndrome.
I’ll never forget my visit to Gays, Illinois!
I was getting hungry and so was Austin. It was time to hop back into the old BHC Eclipse and steam towards Mattoon’s The Burger King.
Mattoon was only ten minutes away, and the downtown parking was conveniently located next to our destination. As Austin and I approached The Burger King on foot, we passed a Carnegie Library, you don’t see those every day.
Finally we got to see the iconic sign.
I’m starving, but Austin has me beat he’s practically storming towards the door.
When we arrive we both ordered their signature burger, The Hooter Burger. This brilliant burger’s namesake is the last name of the owners’ the Hoots family. All-in-all, I’m chomping at the bit for a burger. The sandwich is served to us in a white bag with The Burger King logo on it.
We both retrieve our burgers. The Hooter is dressed with lettuce, tomato, and American cheese. I take a bite, and my vociferous hunger is slain! Austin and I both found the golden ticket thanks to his research on The Burger King. Move over, Whopper, I’m grabbing a Hooter!
Two great towns, and I must say an unforgettable time.