Friday, March 30, 2018


Bert Eisenhour, 94, the last remaining founding member of our Club, died on March 3, 2018. Bert had not been involved in CTCC activities since he and Jane moved to Iowa in 2011, but he continued to produce Bird-News until July, 2017. Many of us spent some time with him at the Model A Restorers' Club Turkey Dinner in November last year. For those of you not familiar with Bert, here is a little history. 

Bert's love affair with the Thunderbird began in the fall of 1954 and when Ford added two new colors, Bert could resist no longer and a Goldenrod Yellow was his in May of 1955.  Bert was hooked.  In 1957 he traded in his '55 and bought a new Inca Gold '57 which he drove 160,000 miles even using it to participate in the Continental Divide Rally.  His infatuation with Thunderbirds continued to grow.  Finally, Bert owned two 1957 T-Birds, but his pride and joy was his Starmist Blue "E" 'Bird, which he bought from Roger Neiss in 1963 and drove to many international conventions.

Bert was one of the founders of CTCC.  The first organizational meeting was held on August 28, 1961 and the first issue of the Club's newsletter was published in March of 1962.  Bert was the editor of the newsletter, Bird-News, from September of 1970 until July, 2017. He devoted countless hours every month to writing and producing this indispensable heart of our organization. Bert's beloved wife, Jane, passed away on March 24, 2016. Staying true to his dedication to the Club, the April, 2016 issue of Bird-News was completed and in the hands of CTCC members on April 8.

In 1963 Bert helped arrange for CTCC to travel to Dearborn where the Ford Motor Company hosted a magnificent Thunderbird convention.  This event set the stage for the first international CTCI convention held in Dearborn in 1964.  Bert was the only CTCI member who attended every international convention in CTCI history. Bert was there at the start of CTCI.  He often joked with Vic Take, the founder of CTCI, that he had doubts about its future, but he had faith and told Vic he wanted to be member number 500.

Bert served on the Board of CTCI in the mid 1970s and he was President of CTCC in 1965-66.  

In 1973, Bert was the first recipient of CTCC's "Alogna Award".  The award honored a member who had willingly gone "above and beyond" to help fellow Club members. In 1998 Bert was again given the Alogna Award.  The "Alogna Award" was then retired and the "Bert Eisenhour Award" was instituted in recognition of his tireless dedication and numerous contributions and efforts on behalf of CTCC. That award was retired in December, 2015 with Bert and Jane being the final recipients.  

Bert was the driving force behind many international and regional conventions held in Chicago including CTCC's 50th Anniversary Celebration of the introduction of the Thunderbird in 2005. Bert had a wealth of information about Thunderbirds and CTCC. He will be missed. 

BERT  EISENHOUR ( 1923-2018 )

Friday, January 12, 2018


The Annual Holiday Party was held on December 2nd at the Alpine Haus Banquets in Westchester.  Forty-three club members came out on a very balmy December night to celebrate. The festivities began that evening with hot appetizers and drinks as members were able to mingle before dinner. Following Happy Hour was a delicious dinner which consisted of soup, salad, Pork Tenderloin, Beef and Chicken along with potatoes and carrots. To finish off the meal was Almond Cake and coffee.

After dinner Ken and Kathy pulled names for the door-prize raffle. Everyone went home with several gifts. Many thanks to Ken & Kathy Smizinski for planning the party, obtaining the wine and many of the door prizes, to Pete Kramer and his son, Steve, for the Year-In-Review DVDs, to Liz and Bill Werth for the cookies and to all those who donated items for the door prizes. A fun night was had by all.



Those in attendance were
Dan & Karen Anderson, Lee and Gina Bakakos, Bill & Jane Balogh, Sean Bickerton, Mike & Laura Cielenski, Bob & Pam Delucas, Art Hahl, Gail Hascek, Larry & Karen Kelly, Pete & Marylu Kramer, Bud & Cindy Krysak, Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko, Dan Mrozek, Dan Mrozek Jr.,Bob & Barb Sroka. Gordon Gluff and Mary Ziemba, Madeline Zambon, Mike Pavlak, Jim & Jane Wilson, Lloyd & Joan Schellin, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Len & Irene Vinyard and Bob & Sue Wenderski, Bill & Liz Werth, Tom & Alice Wolfe.        Submitted by Laura Cielenski

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Suafen und Spiel Parade - 2017

Once again we had fantastic weather for the Johnsburg Suafen und Spiel Parade on Sunday, September 10th. 

By the way, the name "Saufen und Spiel" means "drink and play". People gathered at the home of Len & Mary Keil to enjoy a light breakfast of bagels, donuts, sweet roll and the legendary Joan Schellin almond cake.

We had a variety of vehicles this year. Some of the participants had help removing their Thunderbird car tops before heading out to the Parade. The cars lined up and were led by a police car (with lights and siren) out of the exit of the Keils' subdivision and all the way to the designated line-up spot. While the cars were waiting for the Parade to start, the Parade watchers were getting bloody Marys and finding a suitable spot to view everything.

Most of the cars carried Johnsburg Village officials and displayed magnetic signs. We were given mass quantities of candy to throw along the route. All drivers agreed that this year the pace was slower than in the past. So slow, in fact, that Len Keil's car overheated and he had to pull over. The Parade ended at a field where the cars lined up for display. There were also a few Corvettes in the field. The Village treated the drivers to liquid refreshments. 

Some of us discovered the band inside the meeting hall and enjoyed a few quick dances before heading back to the Keils' for a delicious buffet lunch featuring brats and hot dogs grilled by Larry Keil. Once the Bears' game was over, people watched news of hurricane Irma in Florida and were thinking of our many members who have homes there. Finally, tops were replaced and we all headed home. An enormous thank you to Len & Mary for coordinating and hosting this event for the sixth year! 

Taking part in this year's festivities were: Dan & Karen Anderson, Bill & Jane Balogh, Pete & Lisa Ekstrom, Art Hahl, Len & Mary Keil, Larry & Karen Kelly, Ed Levin & Rose Kovalenko, Pete & Marylu Kramer, Dean & Beth Molburg, Dan Mrozek, Jerry & Pat Peterson, Lloyd & Joan Schellin, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Len Vinyard, Liz Werth, and Jim Wilson. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017


On Sunday, August 6, Joan and Lloyd Schellin once again welcomed CTCC picnickers to their beautiful Garden Prairie farm.  The weather was ideal. Two members drove their little 'birds while others came in everyday cars as it had been pointed out that it was a picnic not a car show and that the Sunday night traffic going home might be unpleasant.

All were delighted to see Paul and Urszula Mounts and Lee and Gina Bakakos who were in town from their homes in Florida!. We also welcomed new member Sean Bickerton who brought armloads of diapers and who fried up the most delicious homemade spring rolls for us to enjoy. Thank you Sean!

Dan Mrozek, Jr. served again as chief pork chop and hamburger griller while Ken Smizinski and Bob Sroka shucked the recently picked corn. The buffet tables held beans, salads, rolls and melons. There were many dessert choices including Mary Keil's delicious coconut cake of which Paul approved!

There was a short business meeting during which Ken Smizinski thanked Lloyd and Joan for their gracious hospitality, discussed upcoming events and introduced Sean. Pete Kramer talked briefly about the Fall Tour that he and Marylu are planning. The group sang to those celebrating birthdays in August.

Some of the almost fifty attendees stayed a little later and enjoyed a fireworks display. Lots of ooohs and aaahs. Thank you, Lloyd, that was fun!

Members generously donated diapers and pull-ups for the People's Resource Center foodpantry. When they are repackaged, the diapers and pull-ups will benefit over 100 families. Thank you all for your thoughtfulness.

Many pitched in to help clean up. Thank you to Joan and Lloyd for hosting another wonderful picnic.



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

2017 Spring Tour

Galena ,Clear Lake ,Prairie Du Chien
By Melinda Pritchett

Despite questionable weather reports, we thought we might be in luck when 21 of us departed on Wednesday morning from the Belvedere Oasis.  We had a nice ride to Galena where Dan Pritchett led the group for a tour of the U.S. Grant home.  After lunching in town at Vinny Vanucchi Restaurant, the group checked out downtown Galena.

We ate dinner at our house in the Galena territory and celebrated Irene, Rose and Larrys birthdays.  Dan and I felt the weekend was off to a good start when Karen, Len Vinyard, and Kathy got into the musical mood of the trip by marching around the room singing
 Seventy-six Trombones  from the Music Man.

The birds were ready to roll at 9AM and we slowly (Ken informed Dan that he was actually traveling about 10 mph slower than he thought) set out.  After lunch, we arrived in Clear Lake and toured the Surf Ball Room.  The Surf was made famous as the last venue where Buddy Holly played, but many other famous acts have appeared there over the years.   Our hospitality room was open at 5, and we had a great dinner at the Surf District Restaurant.

By Friday morning any hopes of nice weather were gone, and we skipped the trip to the crash site and went directly to Mason City.  I think everyone enjoyed lunch at the Decker House and the subsequent tour of Meredith Wilsons childhood home and Music Man Square.  We also toured a Frank Lloyd house and had a cocktail at another Frank Lloyd Wright building, the Park Inn Hotel.  Dinner that evening was at the restaurant adjacent to the hotel, and I think everyone was glad to be out of the rain for a little while.  We retraced our route Saturday morning back to Charles City and stopped at the Floyd County Museum.  After all, what tour is complete without a visit to a Tractor Museum?  We had hoped to lunch at the Barrel Drive Inn but the rain persisted so we made alternate plans.
All visitors to Prairie du Chien stop at Villa Louis and so did we.  It was an interesting story of the Dousman family.  We checked into our hotel, had a great dinner at the Barn Restaurant and ended the night in our makeshift hospitality room.  Sunday morning everyone started off for home.

Dan and I have run several tours in the past, but it was a little worrisome since we were new members. We were very grateful for the enthusiasm of the group, and could not get over the thank you notes and kind words we received when we got home.  Rose and Ed even bought us dinner!  It was a great way for us to get involved in this fun club!!         

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Drury Lane Oak Brook

     On January 29, twenty-three people enjoyed excellent seating in the buffet room of Drury Lane Oak Brook. The many offerings of breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert items certainly satisfied every craving.  We were seated at tables of eight and enjoyed lively conversation while we stuffed ourselves. Following the meal, we made our way into the theater. After a little skillful maneuvering (thank you, Kathy!), we were all seated near each other. "Saturday Night Fever" was all it had promised to be. 

The music and dancing were outstanding! It was a thoroughly delightful outing! 

Thank you to Pete and Marylu Kramer for planning it. 

In attendance were: Gordon Gluff and Mary Ziemba, Len Keil (Mary was ill), Larry and Karen Kelly, Pete and Marylu Kramer, Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko, Jerry and Doreen Michna, Dean and Beth Molburg, Ken and Kathy Smizinski, Bob and Barbara Sroka, Tom and Alice Wolfe, Bill and Liz Werth, and Madeline Zambon and Linda Jensen.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Holiday Party

2016 Holiday Party 

This year fifty-two people attended the annual Holiday Party at Parkway Banquets in Ingleside.  We were seated at tables of eight, all with great views of the "Year In Review" showing continuously. Guests received bottles of wine and a copy of the "Year In Review" DVD produced by Pete and Steve Kramer. The tables were decorated with festive centerpieces.  At each guest's place was a cookie from "simply d'lish".

Jim and Jane Wilson arrived late as they had been rear-ended on their way. There were no injuries but their car suffered damage. We are happy that they are ok. Gina Bakakos came alone since Lee was still recovering from a nasty encounter with a kidney stone. Lee and Gina have moved to Florida as of Dec. 12.

Following the cocktail/hors d'oeuvres hour and the bountiful and delicious buffet dinner, President Ken Smizinski made a few announcements and then Ken and Kathy drew names for the door-prize raffle. Everyone went home with several gifts. In addition to lovely poinsettias donated by the Burhops (who were unable to attend the party), included in the raffle gifts were some oil filters for those who depend upon them every year!

Many thanks to Ken and Kathy Smizinski for planning the party, obtaining the wine and oil filters and many of the door prizes, to Pete Kramer and his son, Steve, for the Year-In Review show and DVDs, to Liz and Bill Werth for the cookies and to all those who donated items for the door prizes. It was a fun night in a beautiful venue with good friends. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Annual Turkey Dinner


Earlier this year, CTCC received and invite to attend the 3rd Annual Turkey Dinner hosted by the Illinois Region Model A Restorers Club. A number of CTCC members signed up to join in on the festivities in Elburn, IL on November 6th. A glorious Sunday morning greeted members of the Model A Club and CTCC as they headed for the Elburn Lions Community Park noon event. 

We arrived to find 22-Model A Fords parked at the building, while the CTCC con­tingment was comprised of two '57s, a '56 and one Retro T-Bird. As we entered the Legion Hall, we were greeted by the members of the several Chapter Model A Clubs in attendance, and everyone was given a Fall inspired name-tag. Each of the 18-tables featured a decorative center­piece, made up of Indian corn, gourdes, etc. While this outing was not an official CTCC calendar event, our T-Bird group enjoyed the excellent dinner, as well as the chance to meet fellow Ford fans!

Thanks to Dan and Mellinda Pricthett, new CTCC members, who were instrumental in arranging the combined meet­ing of our groups. Salads were served at each of the 18 tables, followed by a look at a 'hidden' number, giving the sequence for entering the buffet food line. Our table number was, of course, 18 the very last in the long list of 106 persons attending the dinner event! Raffle tickets were sold to those with a gambling spirit, providing the very lucky (Model A) winner with a windfall of $235.00! The delicious Turkey dinner was enjoyed by all, and the seemingly endless array of desserts (furnished by the members) left no one complaining of hunger pangs.

CTCC members on-the-scene: Bert Eisenhour, Len and Mary Keil, Pete and Marylu Kramer, Dan and Melinda Pritchett, Ken Smizinski, Len and Irene Vinyard and Bill and Liz Werth. - Editor

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Tour to Rockford/S. Beloit

   The Fall Tour to Rockford/S. Beloit started off at the Belvidere Oasis on a bit of a chilly morning. Our tour leaders, Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko greeted all of us as they handed out our tour packet and itinerary. There were 25 club members participating in the Fall Tour. As we headed out, all 10 baby birds, 1 retro and 2 regular vehicles left the oasis en route to the Sunrise Family Restaurant for lunch. After lunch, we all headed to the Rockford Speedway. At the Speedway we all were able to pull onto the track by the starting line. The owner of the Speedway, Judy Deery,  greeted us and gave us a brief history of the track.  She spoke about how the track was opened in 1948 and she and her husband bought a stake in it in 1959 and by the mid 60's they became the sole owners .  The Speedway is one of the only sanctioned NASCAR tracks in Illinois besides the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. It's an oval quarter-mile asphalt track which hosts many races including figure 8 and demolition derbies along with concerts and other events. Mrs. Deery said that she is still very active in the day to day activities of the track along with her children.  After she spoke and answered questions about the track, the club members were able to get in their cars and take them around the track several times.  It was a fun afternoon racing the baby birds, retro and others around the track. Many pictures and videos were taken as the birds flew around the track, some attempting the figure 8. After race day, we all headed over to The Garden Hotel in South Beloit and settled in. The evening commenced with pizza, snacks, drinks and great conversations.

     Saturday morning we all headed to the Rockford Auto Museum which back in 1927 was Midway Motors. There we looked at many Muscle cars that were on display by their owners, some of which were for sale. We then walked over to The Wild Irish Rose for lunch and then as we walked back to our cars, we had our picture taken by the mural outside of the Rockford Auto Museum. In the afternoon we headed over to Roscoe, Illinois to the Historic Auto Attractions Museum where as they say "History meets entertainment". There we were able to go back in time, viewing many famous entertainers and world leaders and their automobiles along with artifacts from various eras, wars and events. In the evening we caravanned over to The Butterfly Club for dinner. Club members Lloyd and Joan Schellin joined us there for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel. Some of us met back in the Hospitality Room for more conversation and others retired for the evening.
Sunday after breakfast and checking out we headed over to the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum. This cottage was built by Robert Tinker who was inspired by his love of  the architecture of Switzerland. He built his Swiss Cottage in 1865 on a limestone bluff overlooking the Kent Creek. After Robert Tinker and his wife Mary died, the cottage along with all the original furnishings were left  to the Rockford Park District to be used as a museum. When the tour ended many of the club members headed home as others went to lunch at Culvers.

   A big "Thank You" goes out to our weekend tour directors Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko   A fun and eventful time was had by all.

    Participants in the Fall Tour were: Lee and Gina Bakakos, Mike and Laura Cielenski, Gordon Gluff and Mary Ziemba, Pete and Marilu Kramer, Larry and Karen Kelly, Len and Mary Keil, Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko, Jerry and Pat Peterson, Ken and Kathy Smizinski, Len and Irene Vinyard, Bill and Liz Werth, Jim and Jane Wilson and Madeline Zambon

Friday, September 23, 2016

Johnsburg Suafenund Spiel Parade

Suafen und Spiel Parade!

Let the parade begin! 

The weather was perfect on September 11 for the 44th Annual Johnsburg Suafenund Spiel Parade. People gathered at the home of Len & Mary Keil to enjoy a light breakfast of bagels, donuts, sweet roll and the infamous Joan Schellin almond cake. Ken and Kathy Smizinski encountered a problem with their Thunderbird and arrived in their Viper. Dan Mrozek drove his Mustang and Bill Balogh drove his Cadillac. Some of the participants removed their Thunderbird car tops before heading out to the Parade. Eleven cars lined up and were led by a police car out of the exit of the Keils' subdivision. While the cars were waiting for the Parade to start, the Parade watchers, including Ken, were finding a suitable spot to view everything. All of the cars carried Johnsburg Village officials and displayed magnetic signs. All cars were given mass quantities of candy to throw along the route. 

The Parade ended at a field where the cars lined up for display alongside a fleet of Corvettes. The Village treated the drivers to liquid refreshments. After meeting up with the Parade watchers, everyone went back to the Keils' for a delicious buffet lunch of beef sandwiches, sausage and peppers, mostaccioli, potato salad, chips and several desserts. Some watched football while others just relaxed. Taking part in this year's Parade (or watching the parade) were: Dan & Karen Anderson, Bill & Elaine Axelson, Lee & Gina Bakakos, Bill & Jane Balogh, Art Hahl, Len & Mary Keil, Ed Levin & Rose Kovalenko, Dean & Beth Molburg, Dan Mrozek & Arlene Figlia, Lloyd & Joan Schellin, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Bill & Liz Werth, and Jim Wilson. A huge thank you to Len & Mary for coordinating and hosting this event for the fifth year!