Sunday, January 18, 2009

Local coverage on 2008 Fall Tour

Beloit Daily News- Tuesday, October 7, 2008

T-Birders flock to see Beloit angels
By Debra Jensen-De Hart
Features Editor

When Bert Eisenhour saw that first Thunderbird back in 1954, it was love at first sight. "I saw the first one and said 'I have to have one,'" he explained as he stood in the Beloit Angel Museum.
Photo- Bert Eisenhour (left) with Pete Ekstrom and Petes '56 T-Bird

Eisenhour, his wife, Jane, and about 40 other members of the Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland cruised into the museum parking lot Friday morning because it is among the sites they are visiting for their annual fall tour.

The club was chartered in 1962 and has 115 members, Eisenhour said.

Besides taking trips together, the group also attends competitive meets where cars are inspected for their attention to detail, quality, authenticity and more.

The cars in the club represent the first three years the model debuted, 1955. '56 and '57 as a two-passenger sports cars.

Eisenhour has owned a '55 and a '57. His baby blue '57 T-Bird sat in the lot next to some other very colorful birds of turquoise, pink, salmon, yellow and black and white. Wide white-wall tires gleaming, chrome grills shining and the spotless interiors and exteriors of
the models added a classic touch outside the museum known for its vast angel collection.

Peter and Lisa Ekstrom, who organized the trip, also planned stops at the House on the Rock, Little Norway, Cave of the Mounds and more for the T-Bird Club.

Eisenhour said he drives his Thunderbird a total of about 1,000 miles in the summer and fall. Replacement parts can be reproductions for the models now beyond the half-century mark, club members said.

Over the 10 years the museum has been open, Ruth Carlson, executive director, has seen people from a large variety of areas in the Midwest as well as from states across the country and even from New Zealand visit the site, she said.

It remains a travel destination for many people who come to Beloit, not only because of the large angel collection, but because of the well maintained building housing the collection— a former Catholic church— its history, the gift shop in the lower level and the ambiance of the riverfront which completes the experience, Carlson pointed out.

Volunteers keep the museum open for tourists by donating 10,000 hours of their time each year. Located at 656 Pleasant St., the site is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.— 4 p.m. Admission to the museum is $6, adults; $5, seniors; $4 teens and $3 for children 5-12. There is no admission fee for the gift shop. Special tour rates also are available.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

T-Bird Design Story Part 2

The True Story Behind the Design of the Thunderbird
History of Ford Styling — 1952-1955 by John R. (Dick) Samsen - Part 2
From The Bird's Nest- New England's Vintage Thunderbirds Newsletter

One day. a meeting was called by Hershey. and we were informed that the program was dead! I heard that Engineering insisted on producing it in steel, which meant that a lot of units had to be sold to pay for the tooling, and Ford Division did not believe they could se!l enough. The clay model was taken to a basement storage area, and we designers were assigned to help finish the design of the 1955 Ford cars. Around this time, we were moved into a great new design facility.

Several months later, in January 1953, Frank Hershey called another meeting. Now we were told that the sports car program was revived. I recall that we were told that Henry Ford II learned about the new two-seat Corvette that GM was to introduce, and insisted that Ford should have a sports car too to pump up the corporate image- "even if it loses money."

The sports car clay model was brought back into Body Development Studio, and we were given new instructions. The Ford Division people wanted the little car to resemble the 1955 Ford production cars on which the design was nearing completion. The fenderline was to be straight from front to rear, and headlamps and tail lamps from the 1955 Ford would be used on the sports car to save money and give a family resemblance to the Ford line. Once again we three designers made full size renderings of our concepts and mounted them on plywood profiles. I was directed to finish my design on the front end of the clay model, and Bill Boyer was to design the rear end, incorporating the tail lamps and "finals" of the '55 Ford. Bill and I collaborated on the fenderline, placing a long wood spline on the clay and cutting a knife line denoting the new fenderline. I recall Bill guiding the modeling of the "wrap-around" windshield. Alan Kornmiller continued to supply sketches and renderings of design ideas to aid us, and produced more full-size profile renderings, which were used with the clay model in later shows for corporate executives. Boyer carried forward the round tail lamp shape through the doors on the model, and asked for my input as to ending the form in the front fender. I suggested angling it upward, and putting louvers next to it, at the same angle. I wanted the louvers to be stamped into the fender like many cars of the past, and these were kept on the model almost to the end of the program. Then Engineering said that they could not do "real" louvers, so they eventually were designed as die-cast ornaments in Ford Exterior studio. During this time, Damon Woods would oversee the project on a daily basis, and Hershey would check on it frequently and give his critiques and directions. As the clay progressed, we worked on ideas for the removable top. The top had to be modeled on a separate armature. Boyer, Kornmiller and I rendered full-size concepts for the top, and overlaid them on a full-size rendering of the design as it unfolded on the clay. I wanted the top to be a "slippery" aerodynamic shape.

One of my designs that was liked was mostly a Plexiglass bubble. The engineers shot that one down, saying that sounds would be amplified inside it. Probably true. Up to that time, I don't recall seeing George Walker or his designer Joe Oros in our studio. We did not get design input from them, unless it came through Hersey. Then one day I was given a sketch by Joe Oros, and told to develop a top design based on that sketch. It was a squarish, formal-looking design, and Boyer and I didn't like it for the sports car. We worked out the boxy top design and had it modeled on a separate armature. At that time, we had no knowledge of the 1955 Lincoln Continental Mark II, which was being designed then, and we were surprised later when we discovered how similar the sports car's top resembled that of the Continental Mark II.

The interior was modeled inside the exterior "buck", the seat armature was removable, so that modelers could work inside on the instrument panel and doors. Ford interior designers Alex Musichuk and Alden "Gib" Giberson and manager Art Querield were mainly responsible for the design of the interior.

During this phase of the program, I frequently saw corporate executives such as Henry Ford II, William Clay Ford, Lewis Crusoe, Robert McNamara, Earl MacPhearson, Henry Greebe, Lee Iacocca, Chase Morisey and others, checking out the sports car model and renderings.

I don't remember seeing George Walker in the studio, but assume he visited it after hours with styling execs. Engineering decided that the grille should not extend beneath the bumper, so I had to lower the bumper and complete the grille opening above it. The lower bumper made the front end vulnerable, so tall bumperettes were needed. I had noticed the bumperettes on the 1952 Mercury and figured that they could be cut off and mounted on the sports car's bumper. The Mercury bumperettes had "spinners" in them that could be removed and replaced with road lamps (I hoped). I made a trip to a Mercury dealer and bought several pairs of bumperettes. I had them trimmed to fit and placed them on the bumper. I figured that would save the company some money by not having to tool new bumperettes; as it turned out, new bumperettes were tooled for the car that looked just like the Mercury's. Bill Boyer put two of the bumperettes on the rear bumper and routed the exhaust tips through them. The egg-crate type grille texture I had wanted was deemed too expensive, so I picked a piece of decorative metal with square holes stamped out and had it trimmed to shape and chromed. It went into production. As the model neared completion, Woods and Hershey designed a "hump" over the rear wheel on the driver's side where the "hopped-up" fcnderline had been. This resembled the rear quarter of the Lincoln XL-500 concept car that had been designed the year before. However, the passenger side with the straight-through fenderline was finally approved.

Once the body design had been approved, the model went to the Ford Exterior studio where the chrome "hash marks" replaced the fender louvers, chrome detail was added to the "power-dome" on the hood, and ornaments and name-plates were designed. A number of names for the car had been proposed, but finally designer "Gib" Giberson's suggestion "Thunderbird" was accepted. Alan Kornmiller left for American Motors before the sports car was finished.

The Thunderbird was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show February 20, 1954. My parents brought my fiance' from Indiana, and I took photos of her standing beside the turquoise mock-up that most people took for the real car. The display was very impressive, with the top mechanically removed and replaced with the convertible top. Its headlamp bezels were from the standard '55 Ford cars, later to be replaced with more "rakish" '55 Fairlane bezels. I was a little disappointed with the car. I had wanted it to be more like the sports cars we had compared it with. It was no longer a sports car to me, especially since so many features I had wanted were changed or deleted, and I felt that the new Corvette was more of a sports car design. As time passed and I saw and drove the first prototypes, I began to appreciate the "T-Bird" more. I went to the Bob Ford Dealership in Dearborn and told the manager I wanted to order a two-passenger sports car. He had no knowledge of it, but I managed to put money down and get an order for the first one off the line. Later, when I was being recruited by Virgil Exner, I got a call that said my car would be built Saturday- but it would be No. 2, and the first one was going to William Clay Ford. I declined the purchase, thinking it would not be welcome at Chrysler Corp. One of many mistakes I have made!

Thunderbirds did well in races, and I began to see it as a unique kind of vehicle, with a personality all its own. It was not the result of one person's concept, but was created as a team effort. Without the support of Henry Ford II it would never have been produced. The executives of the Ford Division made decisions that affected the final design. The input and decisions of Ford styling management, especially Frank Hershey, had a lot to do with the final outcome. The classic Thunderbirds we see in car shows, museums, movies, and TV commercials and documentaries look the way they do because of a number of people who were involved in the program in many ways, and because of the everyday "hands-on" direction of the clay modeling by Bill Boyer and myself, and the talent of the men who sculpted the clay. The Thunderbird was a product of its time, the first time many middle-class Americans could own exciting, stylish cars as they created a new "American Dream".

At the close of the '55 Thunderbird program I was transferred to a new Special Projects studio managed by Gil Spear. I worked on the exterior design of experimental gull-wing car D-523 and the interior design of the D-524 later named "Beldone". In 1955, I left for Chrysler Corp. and a 21-year career designing for that company. Not long after the Thunderbird was finished, McNamara dismissed Frank Hershey.

Frank had not concealed his dislike of having George Walker's consultant team involved in the design studios, and Walker had now been made a vice president in charge of styling. Not a very good reward for the one who probably was most responsible for starting the Thunderbird project. Hershey was hired by Kaiser Aluminum Co. and was in charge of their design and public relations projects. Bill Boyer contributed most of the design of the Ford "Mystere" show car, and worked on the design of many later Thunderbirds. He later became design executive for Ford Division cars, and was chief designer for Ford of Australia for 3 years.

Ed. Note: In the mid-90's, we kept hearing about someone in the Southwest Florida area who worked on the Thunderbird but never knew his name or exactly where he lived. Mr. Samsen was at the CTCI convention in Wichita, and we met him and talked to him for a short time. He confirmed that he had indeed lived in Englewood before moving to South Carolina. Too bad we were not able to connect with him while he was here in Englewood.

True Story Behind The Design of the Thunderbird

The True Story Behind the Design of the Thunderbird
History of Ford Styling—1952-1955 by John R. (Dick) Samsen - Part 1
From The Bird's Nest—New England's Vintage Thunder birds Newsletter

Since the debut of the two-seat Thunderbird in 1954, many articles, books and a History Channel program have been presented with various stories about the design program of the 1955 "T-Bird". Most writers of these accounts were not people with first-hand knowledge and experience in the Ford styling studios of the 1950's. They got what information they could from some of the people involved in that design program, but the stories were fragmentary and far from the complete history. A number of different designers were credited for the design of the first "Thunderbird". Finally, in 1999, Jim and Cheryl Farrell published a book "Ford Design Department Concept and Show Cars, 1932 to 1961" in which they presented the most complete and accurate account of the Thunderbird design program up to that time, after receiving first-hand information from hundreds of designers, clay modelers, engineers, draftspersons, and others who were working in the Ford design department and were in someway connected with that program. This monumental book, illustrated with a great many pictures, tells of the designers and design programs of a great many experimental, concept, show cars, and production cars, from Ford Motor Co. between 1932 and 1961.
The 1955 Thunderbird seems to be destined to be remembered far into the future as an icon of a time when the American people, victoriously released from the terrible traumas of the Great Depression and World War II, looked optimistically to a future of unlimited prosperity and happiness. This was reflected in the demand for radically new designs for their cars; "longer, lower, and wider", and the growing popularity of sports cars. As a designer intimately involved in the design of the Thunderbird, I am presenting a first-hand account from one designer's point of view to fill-in gaps and correct misinformation in the history, according to my memory of the program and memorabilia I have saved from that time.

I left Ford Motor in 1955, recruited by Virgil Exner and assigned to the Chrysler Corp. design department. A long-time policy at Ford Motor was to "forget" the designers who left the company, and to give credit for their contributions to designers who remained. Thus the public relations information given out regarding the design of the Thunderbird gave (deserved) credit to Frank Hershey and Bill Boyer, but did not mention other designers on that program, J. R. "Dick" Samsen, and Alan Kornmiller who went to American Motors in late 1952. Later publications and video programs made it sound as if Frank Hershey and Bill Boyer designed the whole car; however, in a recorded interview at the Edsel Ford Design Library of the Henry Ford Museum, Bill Boyer stated "At that time, there was myself in the studio. 1 was, more or less, the senior guy in the studio because 1 had all of three years in the business. I worked for Damon Woods, who was the section supervisor. Frank Hershey was Chief Stylist for Ford at that time. Gene Bordinat was Chief Stylist for Lincoln/Mercury, both forking for Charlie Waterhouse. A young gentleman by the name of Dick Samson was in the studio for a while at that time. The major portion of the car - the sketching that was done - was by Dick and Myself." The truth is that the design program was a team effort.

In mid-1952, when I joined the Ford styling Department, the Ford Motor Co. design studios were located in the old EEE building in Dearborn where the Ford Trimotor airplanes had been built. Charles Waterhouse, whose family had built custom car bodies during the 1930's, was the manager of the whole Ford design department, reporting the VP of engineering, Early MacPherson. The Ford division styling studios were directed by Frank Hershey, a talented designer recruited from the Pontiac studio at GM, and the Lincoln-Mercury studios were under the direction of Gene Bordinat.
George Walker was an independent designer retained by Henry Ford II as a consultant, and Walker's designers, Joe Oros and Elwood Engle, were assigned as consultants to Ford studios and Lincoln/Mercury respectively. An Advanced Styling studio directed by Gil Spear reported directly to Mr. Waterhouse and was responsible for creating new car concepts, show-cars, and the orientation of new designers under Alex Tremulis.

The three Ford division studios under the direction of Frank Hershey were the Ford Body Development studio, managed by Damon Woods, where the new Ford bodies were designed and where I began my design career; the Ford Exterior Studio, managed by Dave Ash, where the grilles, tail lamps, ornamentation, etc. were designed, and the Ford Interior Studio, managed by Art Querfeld. At the beginning of 1952, the Body Development studio was finishing the development of the 1955 Ford body. We designers were doing presentation renderings for the Ford Exterior studio on a facelift for the 1954 Ford cars.

I had joined the newly formed Ford motorsports Club, which was focused on sports cars. I ran my MG TD in time trials, hill climbs, and rallies, and I had been designing sports car concepts in my spare time. One day I asked Frank Hershey about Ford Motor offering a two-seat sports car to the public. He adamantly stated that the company would never get into that market, as it was too small to be profitable, and that the company needed its funds to keep its bread-and-butter cars competitive. I was surprised, not long after, when he called Woods, Boyer, Kommiller, and me into a meeting where he outlined a new project for us - to design a two-seat sports car.

This project began in strict secrecy; designers and other personnel in the rest of the design department were not aware of this program until it was almost finished. Some accounts state that the "T-Bird" program was started without authorization. I do not know about this, but I do not believe that Hershey would have done this on his own. I'm sure that an OK was given from above in the Styling and Engineering hierarchy. There was cooperation from Engineering from the beginning, as engineers were assigned to develop the chassis for the project. Body Development Studio had a light workload at that time, and the sports car project may have begun without official Corporate sanction. At any rate, I was happy to be assigned to this exciting project, and we three designers began sketching our ideas for the little car. The engineers gave us a chassis design, which was essentially a Ford chassis that was shortened to 102 inch whcelbase (like that of the Jaguar XK 120 which was the target design). Both stylist and engineers realized that the engine needed to be moved to the rear for proper weight distribution, and we won this concession. We were told that the engine would have fuel injection or a new, lower, intake manifold allowing a low hood.

After we had made a lot of sketches, Manager Woods and Chief Hershey picked out promising concepts and directed the designers to make 3/8 scale side view designs over the chassis and seating drawings, and then render these designs in airbrush. Eventually the concepts were narrowed down and each designer was directed to do a full-size airbrush rendering of his selected design on black construction paper. Full-size renderings were also made of a Jaguar XK 120 and a Nash/Healy sports car for comparison. Then the wood shop produced plywood profile cutouts on which the renderings were stapled. When the full-size profiles were supported on the show-room floor, they gave a good impression of what the concepts would look like in "real life". Frank Hershey bought himself an XK 120 to get a feel for this kind of car.

I was excited when my design was chosen to be modeled in clay. My concept had a "hop-up" in the fenderline beginning just aft of the doors and a front end with an egg-crate grille in a Ferrari-like opening. We had lost the fuel-injection system, so I covered the carburetor that was now too high for the hood, with a domed "air scoop". I had suggested letting the car stick up through the hole in the hood, hiding it under a fancy finned air-cleaner cover, but this idea was shot down. The "shaker hood" had to wait for future "muscle cars". The wood "buck" for the clay model was built to allow the "hop-up" fenderline. I directed most of the clay modeling, doing a little sculpturing on the front end myself, and Bill Boyer directed work on the rear end. We all worked as fast as we could, and finally in late summer, 1952, the model and renderings were shown to styling and Ford Division execs. I have a clear recollection of the decision to continue the development of the design, as I was elated! Continued next month...

Winter Dance Party

"Winter Dance Party 2009: A Tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper)" will be a genuine blowout this year. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the show begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 16, 2009, at Willowbrook Ballroom.

The fabulous live concert celebrates its 10th year at the Willowbrook Ballroom. On a sadder note, the event also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper in a tragic plane crash in 1959, immediately following a Clear Lake, Iowa, concert en route to their next concert in Fargo, North Dakota.

The Winter Dance Party 2009 is a live, authentic re-enactment of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper's final tour. Made famous by Don McLean in the 1972 song, American Pie, the day has become known among rock and roll fans as "the day the music died."

The Willowbrook Ballroom concert performance includes more than two hours of high-energy entertainment featuring all the hit songs of the '50s era, including "That'll be the Day," "Peggy Sue," "Oh, Boy," "Rave On," "La' Bamba" and "Chantilly Lace."

Once again, critically acclaimed John Mueller will perform as Buddy Holly. Mueller has received numerous accolades for his accurate portrayal.

"John is a reincarnation of Buddy Holly," said Birute Jodwalis, owner of Willowbrook Ballroom. "He is that good."

J. P. Richardson, known as the Big Bopper, will be played by his very own son, Jay P. Richardson, Jr. who brings the family heritage that only he can offer to the role of his legendary father. Ritchie Valens will be performed by Ray Anthony, a renowned star of the "Legends of Rock and Roll" show at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. The authentic four piece band - guitar, drums, stand up bass and sax - includes Grammy award winning Mike Acosta on saxophone.
"Flawless....rings as clear and true as a chord from a Fender Stratocaster," said a review in The Chicago Tribune.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. The show is suitable for the whole family. A portion of the proceeds will be used for music scholarships set up in the names of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.

Winter Dance Party 2009 will sell out quickly. For reservations and more information, call Willowbrook Ballroom at 708-839-1000.

8900 South Archer Avenue, Willow Springs, IL 60480 • 708-839-1000
Website: E-Mail:

The above outlines the plans tor the first CTCC event in the New Year. As noted in the write-up, the date is: Friday, January 16,2009.
Contact Pete or Marylu Kramer to make your RESERVATIONS: (630) 986-1277 or

The Editor's Notebook- Dec. 2008

the editor's NOTEbook

WITH SNOW HAVING MADE ITS PRESENCE KNOWN, IT SEEMS ONLY natural that our thoughts now turn to indoor activities and/or events. The Annual Holiday Party (Dec. 6fh) leads into the first outing for the New Year: Pete and Marylu Kramer have set plans for CTCC to join in on the festivities at the Willowbrook Ballroom on Friday, Jan. 16th. See pg. 3 for details on the Winter Dance Party.

SIDE-BAR: The Chicagoland Thunderbirds will be celebrating their Christmas Party at Chandler's on December 6th! Their members will also be attending the Willowbrook event on (you guessed it!) Jan. 16th.

Speaking of the calendar for 2009 events, you will note that the ever-popular (FREE!) Pizza Party date is indicated as "Tentative." Group reservations at Jake's will be made in January.

With the busy summer schedule filling all available space with stories and photos, the long-delayed Part 2 of 'The True Story......" is finally published - refer to pages 9 and 10. (Part 1 was featured in the August '08 issue of BIRD-NEWS - see pages 6 and 7.) The "behind-the-scenes" article is most definitely worthwhile reading, adding still another chapter to T-Bird history.

The photo coverage of The Longest Auto Race (LAR) stopover in Geneva, Illinois (page 7) presents a look at the wide variety of vehicles participating in the New York to San Francisco portion of the 1908 Great Race! Since entrants in the 1908 New York to Paris Race did make astop in Geneva, it was great to visit with the intrepid crews involved in the "recreation" oftheU.S. segment of the historic event!


The Longest Auto Race

RECREATING PART of The Longest Auto Race!

IT WAS IN THE HEART OF WINTER IN 1908 AS 6 Automobiles - entered in the New York to Paris Great Race - made their way into Geneva, Illinois. While the early morning of October 23rd this year was chilly, it did not deter a small group from continuing their celebration of the centennial of the 1908 Race.
With Cleon Statton, a former CTCC member, and other aficionados, we anxiously awaited the arrival of the cars at 8:30 a.m. The unmistakable growl of vintage engines signaled their arrival, as the welcoming crowd greeted (and photographed) the adventurous crews!
The vehicles included a monster, customized Peterbilt truck, a VW Beetle, a 1940 Cadillac, a sporty Chrysler Convertible Coupe, a 1918 Chevrolet Touring car and an open-cockpit 1930 Chevy Speedster.
The group is attempting to follow as much of the original U.S. route as possible, excluding the heavy traffic in downtown Chicago. The Racers left after enjoying coffee and donuts.

Editor's Addendum- 2008 Fall Tour


It seems that there were a few mechanical glitches, as Larry Johnson's 'Bird was the first to falter, early on Friday morning. The passage of time caught up with several heat-control valves, where the coolant leaks required replacement - or bypassing! A flat tire on your Editor's T-Bird was (luckily), spotted by Jerry Peterson, as we were leaving our hotel on Saturday morning! After a Herculean effort to remove the wheel, thanks to Jerry, the hotel "handy-man," and others who offered to help, the spare from Jerry's '57 was in place. The only port-/n-fne storm turned out to be a nearby Farm & Fleet, not a recommended place to have a wire-wheel put in the hands of a "cowboy!" Although the repair was promised by 4:30 p.m. no work had been performed when we arrived at Ihe garage. Finally, I was able to examine the tube and determine that the pinhole leak was not in any way related to the spokes, but was close to the fop of the tube. With a new tube installed, further problems ensued, so it was with relief that we returned to the Holiday Inn where we returned the "leased" spare to Jerry.
In any case, our sincere thanks to Jerry and Pat for staying with us in the hotel parking lot, the locale being much better suited to our task than on the road.


As we were enjoying our breakfast repast on Sunday morning. Pat Peterson happened to look down at the floor, exclaiming, "Someone lost their underwear!" A gal had dropped a pair of (very) skimpy briefs alongside our table, and hearing Pat's startling declaration, explained, "I've been looking for these all morning..." The gal quickly recovered the telltale evidence and stuffed the postage-stamp sized garment into her suitcase. Of course, her face turned full crimson as she tried to recover from the embarrassing incident -


Fall Tour- 2008


A colorful flock of 'Birds flew into the Belvidere Oasis for the Fall Tour to Wisconsin on Friday morning, October 3, 2008. Early morning greeted us with rain on our drive to the Oasis, but 19 little 'Birds and one late-model 'Bird left in sunshine, promptly at 10 AM, for the Badger State.
Photo- T-birds at Mt. Horeb Days

We arrived at the Angel Museum in Beloit, Wl, at 10:50, and we were greeted in the parking lot by the owner, Joyce Berg, dressed in angel attire, complete with halo and wings. The Berg Angel Collection is the personal collection of Joyce Berg, and it is the largest in the world (13,599 angels). Mrs. Berg is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. This collection is now housed in an old church built in 1914 by Italian immigrants. Previously it had been in her home, and she moved the collection to this location ten years ago.

At the museum, our group was divided between two docents, and our docent was Bev Melton (owner of a 1950's Kaiser parked in the lot). In this private collection, there are over 60 countries represented and over 100 different materials used in the angels. We saw angels from Precious Moments, Hummels, to Lladro. The oldest was made in 1860 in Germany. This stop was very interesting, and many of us plan on returning to enjoy the collection at our leisure.

At 11:30 we left for Quaker Steak and Lube in Middleton for lunch. These restaurants are housed in a gas station setting and were started to preserve the culture of old gas stations and high-powered muscle cars. We were seated in the garage area with our cars parked out front, and they looked absolutely beautiful in the bright sun. Now it was time to choose from a menu that included choices such as: Thunderbird Steak, Mustang Chicken, LubeBurger, Fish Tallin', Hot Rod Chili, and Garage Salad. There was even a lift in the restaurant with a car raised on it with seating underneath. Very appropriate dining for our group!

After lunch, we proceeded to House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wl. This attraction is the result of the creative energy of one man, Alex Jordan. In the 1940's he was content to camp at this site until a storm blew his tent away. He then started the original house, building one room at a time, for his own use. In 1960 he opened The House on the Rock to the public. Once the original house was completed, he turned his attention to creating an attraction with room after room of unique and eclectic collections. There are variations of sights, sounds, and splendors (from the smallest details of an intricately furnished dollhouse collection to the world's largest indoor carousel). One of the most interesting sights was in the Infinity Room as it extends 218 feet out over the scenic valley and is 156 feet above the forest floor. What a spectacular view!

Our day of driving and touring came to an end as we checked into the Holiday Inn Express in Verona, Wl. Our group had a large hospitality room where we enjoyed several pizza combinations that were delivered to the hotel from an Italian restaurant. This was a welcome meal and gave us a chance to relax and enjoy each other's company. Annie had a lovely selection of beaded necklaces she made, and we each got to choose our favorite. Thank you, Annie! We were also entertained by Gordon and Mary - with some magic and twisting of balloons into different, unusual shapes.

Saturday morning started with breakfast at the hotel. After filling up on eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, muffins, etc., we met at 9 AM in the parking lot. The first stop of the day was Little Norway in Blue Mounds, Wl. Little Norway is the homestead of early Norwegian settlers, Mr. and Mrs. Osten Olson Haugen from Telemark, Norway. They came across the ocean on an eight-week voyage in 1856. The Haugens purchased this 40-acre homestead at $1.25 an acre.

In 1927, a Chicago insurance man, Isak Dahle, purchased the property and spent eight years remodeling, opening Little Norway to the public in 1936. The original farm buildings have been preserved and are authentic Norse architecture, simple and durable. Most of them are trimmed with warm, fresh blue paint that is typically Norwegian and contain America's largest collection of Norwegian artifacts.

In addition to the cluster of log farm buildings, there is the 12th century-style Norwegian Stave Church, built in Norway for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. It was shipped to Chicago for the World's Fair and had been in Lake Geneva for 30 years, until Mr. Dahle purchased it for $1,500 and moved it to Little Norway in 1935. Beth, our tour guide, said, "It has been disassembled and put together like a Lincoln Log set."

Little Norway is an absolutely beautiful piece of property nestled in the valley. It was interesting reliving the life of these early Norwegian immigrants and stepping back to a more peaceful, less rushed period of time.

We got our caravan back on the road and headed to Cave of the Mounds. Again, we were divided into two groups with Chris and Amy as our tour guides. Our guides took us past a varied collection of colorful stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and other formations along paved and lighted walkways in the cave. An interesting note is that the Cave has the same temperature all year long - 50 degrees. Also, there are no bats or other typical critters in the cave, thank goodness. This cave was accidentally discovered during a routine quarry blast in 1939 and was opened to the public in 1940. Over 59,000 people came to visit the cave in the first eight weeks of operation.

Leaving the cave, we headed to Mount Horeb for their Fall Heritage Festival. Our T-Birds were lined up on Main Street and, of course, they drew lots of onlookers. This was a typical festival featuring craft booths, wagon rides, and food booths. An interesting note is that Mount Horeb is known as the "Troll Capital of the World."

Upon leaving Mount Horeb, we headed back to our hotel. Our dinner Saturday evening was at Avanti's Italian Restaurant in Verona. We used the hotel shuttle bus, so our cars remained parked for the evening. Returning to the hotel, we enjoyed visiting in the hospitality room, and Jane made a hit with her homemade oatmeal cookies. They were gone in a flash! We are hoping to see the recipe printed in the newsletter. Thank you, Jane!

Sunday morning started with breakfast at the hotel, a group picture in the hotel lobby, getting our caravan together, and heading home. We had one final stop at Culver's at the WI/IL line. You can't guess what we ordered!!!

Our group thanks Pete and Lisa Ekstrom for planning an enjoyable Fall Tour. Along with Pete and Lisa, other members on the tour were: Bert and Jane Eisenhour, Gordon Gluff and Mary, Maryann Graziano and Paul Ureche, Joel Greenberg and Annie Luginbill, Bob and Helen Hoge, Larry Johnson and Sue, Len and Mary Keil, Larry and Karen Kelly, Joe and Sandra Kraatz, Pete and Marylu Kramer, Ed Levin and Rose, Paul and Urszula Mounts, Dan Mrozek, Jerry and Pat Peterson, Lloyd and Joan Schellin, Ken and Kathy Smizinski, Bill and Bonnie Thelen, Len and Irene Vinyard, Joe and Madeline Zambon, plus members joining us in WI. Dave and Mary Jane Osborne and Phil and Christine Kneebone. Thanks again Pete and Lisa; it was a wonderful trip.

Sandy (and Joe) Kraatz

The Editor's Notebook- Nov. 2008

the editor's NOTEbook


A glance at the CTCC Calendar (page 2) reveals only two events remaining on the 2008 schedule: The November Membership Meeting at Russell's BBQ on the 13th and the Annual Holiday Party on December 6th.
As you will see, this issue is devoted to coverage of the CTCC Fall Tour, with a splendid recount of the event by Sandy Kraatz (pages 6, 7 and 8) and photos by Bill Thelen (page 9). Blessed with picture-perfect weather on both Friday and Saturday, the well-attended Wisconsin Tour was most enjoyable!
Incidentally, the October 7th edition of the BELOIT DAILY EXPRESS featured our event on the cover page of their Living section! The page also included two color photos: Your Editor and Pete Ekstrom with Pete's Fiesta Red '56 and a view of the 'Birds lined up in the parking lot of the Beloit Angels Museum.
Again, due to limited space in this issue, Part II of "The True Story...." will appear in the Dec. issue.
As of press-time, the small group of the travelers recreating the LAR (Longest Auto Race) arrived in Geneva, Illinois on the 23rd. Since Geneva was one of the stops made by the New York to Paris Great Race cars in 1908. this was an important part of the current Racer's routing in their travels from New York City to San Francisco - October 18 - November 8. The cover of the October 24th edition of the Daily Herald features coverage of the visit, along with a photo of us "interviewing'' Roy Foster, one of the drivers. We will feature more "Race Car photographs in the December issue, [].
A recent WLS radio program found the host, Paul Bryan, expounding on the present market for collector cars. The Las Vegas Auction saw a 1955 T-Bird sell at $50,000, Paul commenting that the 'Bird would have been valued at "double" that amount last year!