Monday, September 3, 2007

CTCC Annual Picnic 2007

IT WAS A GREAT DAY FOR T-BIRDS AND T-BIRDIES! Thanks to the Burhops, CTCC Picnic signs were positioned at key intersections long before 11:00 a.m., the scheduled start of this popular event. Pratt's Wayne Woods was again the site of this year's edition of an outing that has been a part of the CTCC events calendar for more than 40 years.

By 10:30, the Burhops, Keils and Liz Werth were already on-the-scene, arranging the picnic and serving tables. (Bill Werth was away on a fishing trip somewhere in the wilds of Canada.) The "reserved" T-Bird parking area (near our "rented" Pavilion-for-a-day) soon filled, and a few members had to park their 'Birds/cars across the roadway. It was a colorful sight to see some 15 classic T-Birds "on-display!" In addition, there were three modern 'Birds and a beautiful 1939 Ford Convertible Coupe, the latter owned by Len and Irene Vinyard.

photo caption: Chicken Is Served! The CTCC food line formed a nanosecond after Ken Smizinski's arrival with the supply of Popeye's chicken! Ravenous appetites were soon assuaged.

Naturally, conversations - T-Bird related and otherwise - raged on as we awaited the arrival of our featured entree, Popeye's Chicken! Ken and Kathy Smizinski arrived to survey the turnout - some 40 plus persons. Ken then made his (now famous) "Chicken Run," and he returned at about 12:30 p.m. with the tubs of chicken. The sight of the loaded food-table energized the members to line-up to partake in the tasty chicken and wide-assortment of salads and side-dishes. Kathy had been busy setting a charcoal fire, in order to have hot coffee ready by dessert time! It turned out that "sales" were few, no doubt influenced by the warm day, the prediction having been for a high of 92 degrees!

While we were enjoying the bountiful food offerings, it was impossible to miss the constant parade of official police and Forest Preserve vehicles that slowly cruised by our gathering spot. (CTCC reserves the Pavilion site - $75 - as soon as permitted, in order to guarantee availability for the following year.) As the day progressed, a bicycle rider approached the Pavilion, the "security" person obviously intent on a close-up inspection for any signs of alcoholic beverages! Later on, I discovered a Lite beer-bottle cap imbedded in the walkway, clear evidence that some prior group had violated the strict rule banning alcohol. Naturally, almost every Preserve visitor driving by the colorful collection of two-passenger T-Birds slowed down to take-in-the-scene. I watched as two horseback riders passed the lineup, imagining that they were comparing their "horsepower" to that represented by the fleet of Thunderbirds....?

Dessert-time arrived, and it was no less spectacular than the flavorful assortment of food items we had just enjoyed. The table featured cookies, brownies, fruit salad in a watermelon shell, raspberry bars, plus other assorted treats. From a strictly personal point-of-view, the creme de la creme of the dessert offerings was the Award Winning coconut layer-cake made by Paul Mounts! Having missed out on this fantastic (to die for!) treat last year, Paul made certain that I received the first slice - along with a cup of coffee! Thanks for the special effort by a "special guy!"

Unlike last year, members opted not to engage in any "lawn games," in spite of the fact that croquet and Jarts were available. Thankfully, the Pavilion provided shelter from the sun, and, at times, it even managed to help create a cooling breezeway effect.

A few members left following our "feast, " having other commitments for the late afternoon/evening. It was at about this time when a "long-lost" couple made their appearance! What a pleasant surprise to see Perry and Cindy O'Kano after lo, those many years! They were able to renew some old friendships - and enjoy a sampling of our delicious picnic fare. The O'Kano's membership dates back to about 1980.

Len Vinyard's 1939 Ford Convertible drew many admirers, prompting Len to outline the highlights of his 85hp V-8 engine, with emphasis on its continued dependability! Rudy Budach likewise attracted quite a gallery of members interested in knowing the almost unbelievable story of his "personalized" 2002 T-Bird. Rudy only recently acquired ownership of this Red beauty, the odo showing only 4.800 miles! Now, dressed-up with a customer (after-market) dual tonneau set-up (ala the 1962/1963 Thunderbird sports Roadsters), it is definitely a head-turner.

Most everyone had departed the Preserve by about 3:30, so another group quickly laid claim to "our" facility. We lingered to visit and recall old-times with the O'Kano's, then fired-up the 'Bird for the 9-mile trip home. This was a truly enjoyable get-together, with good food and most importantly, good friends. While it is our love affair with the 'Birds that brings us together, the essence of the Club is the wonderful friendships that are formed, and the numerous opportunities for camaraderie.

Participants in this year's edition:

Bill and Jane Balogh, Rudy and Janet Budach, Bob and Marcy Burhop, Steve Davajon, Bert and Jane Eisenhour, Pete and Lisa Ekstrom, Ed and Marleen Ficenec, Mickey Ficenec, Joel Greenberg and Annie Luginbill, Brad, Jan and Paige Hanson, Art and Gail Hascek, Laura Hascek and Mike Cielenski, Bob and Helen Hoge, Larry Johnson, Len and Mary Keil, Larry and Karen Kelly, Pete and Marylu Kramer, Paul and Ursala Mounts, Dan and Joan Mrozek, Perry and Cindy O'Kanto, Ken and Kathy Smizinski, Len and Irene Vinyard, Liz Werth, Jim Wilson.

FOOTNOTE: Interestingly, the front page of Monday's Kane County Chronicle featured an article on Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve! No, it didn't feature our Thunderbirds, but recorded the discovery of a mastodon tooth (2005) and more recently, a tusk from this huge, prehistoric mammal. St. Charles high School students are involved in this archaeological dig.

-- Bert and Jane Eisenhour

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