Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Johnsburg Parade

-Village of-


Settled 1841 - Incorporated 1956


Edwin P. Hettermann, Village President

Claudette E. Peters, Village Administrator

1515 Channel Beach Avenue

Johnsburg IL 60051

Village Hall 815-385-6023

Fax 815-385-6054

www. Johnsburg ,org


October 3,2012

Mr. Pete Kramer
 560 West 58th St.
 Hinsdale, IL 60521

Dear President Kramer:

 On behalf of the residents and the Johnsburg Village Board, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland for generously volunteering to drive our village officials in your classic thunderbirds in our Saufen und Spiel Parade. I especially want to thank the drivers Dan Anderson, Tom Bruin, Gordon Gluff, Joel Greenberg, Art Hahl, Bob Hoge, Pete Kramer, Doug Rodgers, Lloyd Schellin, Ken Smizinski and a special thank you to one of our residents, Len Keil, who not only drove but also organized your participation. I can't help but think our parade was extra special this year because of your organization.

The comments from our residents have been overwhelming! I had a chance to visit with the members of your group after the parade, and believe they enjoyed taking part in our event. It was a very busy weekend for me and I would like to apologize for not being able to spend more time visiting with them.

I cannot say thank you enough to the drivers who generously gave us the use of their cars and time in being the highlight in this year’s event.


 Ed Hettermann
Village President

cc: Village Board
      Mr. Len Keil

Village Trustees

John Huemann     Mary Lou Hutchinson   Rich Janusz     Kevin McEvoy     Janice Sisk     Ron Zanko 

A  Hometown   with  Spirit

Rudy Budach

                                                          IN M E M O R I A M

                                                                    Rudy Budach
                                                             Sept. 6, 1927 - Oct. 8, 2012

It is with sadness and a deep sense of personal loss that I record the passing of longtime member, Rudy Budach.

Rudy and Janet joined CTCC in February of 1970, and they became active members, attending club events, car shows, and par­ades in their 1956 Buckskin Tan T-Bird.

Rudy's early involvement led him to serve CTCC on committees and in offices, including Vice-President for the 1973-1974 term. He was always a willing helper in club projects and events.

As one example of his mischievous nature, Rudy once used his ever-present cigar to orchestrate what I kindly refer to as an "illusion." The scene unfolded at a local car show, where Rudy knew his cigarette lighter was inoperative! As the interior judging team arrived to check his '56, Rudy started his magic act by refraining from puffing on his lighted stogie. He depressed the lighter, and with exquisite timing, waited a few seconds before placing the lighter in contact with his cigar. The sight of several puffs of smoke proved convincing, as the judges didn't record any point deductions!

Perhaps one of Rudy's proudest moments was when Monogram chose his stock '56 as the design T-Bird for their project to produce a 1956 Thunderbird model kit! Monogram personnel gathered literally hundreds of photos of the Buckskin Tan 'Bird. These photos were used to create a series of wooden forms, representing the sections to be scaled for use in the kit. The resultant wooden T-Bird model was in of itself a tribute to the skilled Monogram designers. Rudy and I were in the plant on several occasions to observe the project progress, and our last visit allowed us to see the assembly line of workers involved in the final stages of packaging the kits.

As an example of Rudy's resourcefulness, he negotiated with the Oakbrook Polo organization in order to arrange for the CTCC members to drive their 'Birds around the field after the 1st 'chucker.' I accompanied Rudy on his first meeting with Jorie Butler, and the dream soon became a reality. As each 'Bird circled the Polo Field, the announcer described the model year, etc., from a script pre­pared by each driver. If memory serves, there were several appearances following the very successful initial event. It was apparent that the Polo crowd appreciated the sight of our "classics!"

It was in 1974 when Rudy became a willing accomplice in what I termed The Great Ford License-Plate Heist. A small group of CTCC members planned a visit to the Chicago Auto Show - on the closing day of the exhibit. The premeditated action found us armed with pliers and screwdrivers, as we stealthily removed a number of the Ford " Better Idea" plates from the Ford display cars. Our raid was deemed a success, with little or no interference from Ford. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Eventually, Rudy decided to part with his '56, converting to a (Red) '02 Retro model. Next, a Smart Car appeared in the Budach garage! (The above photo was taken (by Liz Werth) at the Kresmery Poplar Grove Hangar Event in 2009.) Rudy made a large, black "key" for the car!

Rudy's joie de vivre was always in evidence. The CTCC Officers, Directors and membership express their deepest sympathy to Janet and her family as we share in their loss.
- Editor

                                  CLASSIC THUNDERBIRD CLUB OFCHICAGOLAND

BIRD-NEWS                                                -PAGE 3-                                           NOVEMBER 2012

Photo Caption- Rudy Budach's Buckskin Tan '56.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Fall Tour

"Is this Heaven?" "No, it's the CTCC 2012 Fall Tour."

Taking a little liberty from the discussion between Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ray from the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams" best describes the wonderful experience enjoyed by 33 CTCC members in thanks to our host and hostess, Tom and Judy Bruin. Except for moments of high wind, the autumn weather was near perfect for driving Thunderbirds during our traditional Fall Tour. We soon discovered the Dubuque tri-state area has so much to offer it would take multiple tours to begin to fully appreciate the many attractions and hospitality of the local people.

Soon after rendezvousing at the Belvidere Oasis on Route 90 and moving on to Route 20, we thought Lloyd Schellin "took a Vinyard," i.e. wrong turn. After Lloyd and Joan caught up with T-birds heading west, much to our chagrin the rest of us soon discovered Lloyd actually took the proper turn as we were plodding along on unintended rough pavement! With walkie talkies buzzing, Lloyd wasn't finished displaying his navigation skills and soon earned the handle "GPS Schellin." Thanks Lloyd for keeping us on track!

Our first stop was in Monroe, Wisconsin to visit the Minhas Craft Brewery, the original home of Huber Bock. After pouring everyone a sample, our tour guide, Donna, educated us on the Grafting of beer and the history of the brewery. The original brewery was founded in 1845 making it the oldest in the Midwest. Donna had many stories, but perhaps the best shared was about a building next to the brewery that served as the city jail. One day, long ago, it caught fire and workers poured beer on the jail to save it! To this day, locals debate if it was a good use of the beer?

We then walked to lunch at the nearby Turner Hall Ratskeller Restaurant, a Swiss heritage chalet and home of musicians and gymnasts. After lunch, about half the tour members visited the Minhas Micro Distillery that applies old world methods to creating hand-crafted, small-batch rum, vodka, brandy, gin and whiskey, while others enjoyed shopping in historic Monroe square and the Swiss Colony outlet mall. With gifts of beer & vodka from Minhas and treats from Swiss Colony, we were well equipped to enjoy the rest of the tour!

From Monroe, Wisconsin the tour convoy proceeded to our hotel conveniently located off Route 20 in Dubuque, Iowa. After checking in, everyone enjoyed the traditional CTCC tour Friday evening pizza party.

The first event in Dubuque was visiting the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium that educates over 250,000 visitors a year on the history and importance of the Mississippi waterway. This proved to be a special treat for Jim Wilson. Dubuque is where Jim's maternal great grandfather, Ernst Wesselhoft, a German immigrant painter and wallpaper hanger, partnered with Albert Giegerich to form the Model Wallpaper and Paint Co. in 1899. His grandfather moved on to Peoria in 1913, while the business continued in Dubuque. Jim met the grandson of Albert, Albert III, for the first time at the museum. "Al" Giegerich is 88 years of age and works for the Dubuque County Historical Society restoring and maintaining the William M. Black, a steam powered dredge boat docked at the museum. The boat was operated by the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers from 1934-1973 to keep the river channel free from silt and debris. A crew of 63 worked on the dredge boat in a "24-7" operation. Al gave Jim a personal tour of the boat which included the boiler room, machine shop, forward and aft decks, boiler deck, and galley. The next morning Jim and Al visited the location of the original Model store in Dubuque to view photos and catch up on respective family histories. The Model operated in Dubuque until 1997 and lives on today in Peoria and Springfield, Illinois as the Glidden Model Wallpaper & Paint.

In the afternoon, a half dozen or so T-birds headed to Dyersville, Iowa to the 1989 "Field of Dreams" movie site. A dozen or so tourists were on the ball field when they saw the T-birds coming up the driveway. Remembering the famous scene in the movie, they yelled out, "Look it's true, they are coming!" CTCC participants could not hold back on being little kids again. Tom Bruin, Joel Greenberg, Larry Kelly and Lloyd Schellin, to name a few, started their own pickup game on the field. It was a good thing there was a cold wind so none of the "kids" could play long enough to hurt themselves!

Nearby are the National Farm Toy Museum and the St. Francis Xavier Basilica. Built in 1888, the two-steeple basilica is one of finest examples of Gothic architecture in the Midwest. One of our groups arrived shortly after a wedding and got to hear a performer from the balcony that made the visit even more special. T-birder and farmer Lloyd Schellin served as our unintended guide at the Farm Toy Museum. Everyone bombarded Lloyd with questions as they viewed thousands of farm toys in exhibits and displays spread across the two-story facility.

Saturday was "Italian night," as most diners headed to downtown Dubuque to Vinny Vanucchi's or Mario's. Mario's, discovered by Ken and Kathy Smizinski, turned out to be a special treat. After coming to the U.S. from Italy and running a restaurant in New York, Mario visited a friend in Dubuque some 30 years ago and decided to embark on a simpler way of life. Before we took our seats, Mario bought Ken and Kathy a round of drinks and a bottle of fine Italian wine for all of us to share at the table. Then the fun began when members known for their booming voices responded by assisting the soft-spoken Maitre d' with calling patrons to their tables. The evening was a memorable experience, as the cuisine proved to be as delicious as Mario was entertaining.

On Sunday, CTCC members again broke into groups. One group traveled to Galena, Illinois for their County Fair. Gary Smithe and Bob Winderski didn't mind shopping with the ladies after one shop owner enticed them with free beer to watch the Packer's game, while Debbie and Sue were occupied in the floors below. Joel Greenberg enjoyed T-bird "picking" in the antique and craft stores only to get home and discover he already had the two signs he purchased. Is this a surprise?

One group headed north to visit the Petosi Brewery and the "grotto" in the small town of Dickeyville, Wisconsin. In response to world turmoil, Father Matthias Wernerus spent form 1925 to 1930 Grafting stone, mortar, gems, minerals, and shells without the use of blueprints to pay tribute to the love of God and country. Fortunately, the spectacular "grotto" of shrines continues to endure the elements for the enjoyment of future generations. The Petosi Brewery has recentlyundergone an extensive renovation and is also home to the National Brewery Museum. Tour members got to learn about the history of Petosi, have lunch in the beautiful pub, and view extensive world-class collections of bottles, cans, glasses, trays, coasters, advertising materials and other items relating to breweriana collectibles. Returning to Dubuque, T-birders traveled along the hilly and wooded Rustic Road 99, while enjoying the autumn colors.

Back in Dubuque, tour participants shopped and rode the cable car known as the Fenelon Place Elevator that has been lowering Dubuque residents from their residences to the city below and back since 1882. Rising 189 feet with a length of 296 feet it is the world's steepest, shortest scenic railway. At the top you get to enjoy the view of the business district, Mississippi River and three states.

We rode to dinner by trolley car receiving an outstanding guided tour of historical Dubuque highlighting its Native American, French, Irish and German influence. Our 85 year old tour guide, Bob, and driver, Dennis, pointed out the numerous churches, buildings, and streets of notoriety. On the way to Eagle Point Park, we passed the Italian Villa Style, Antebellum, Mathias Ham House; a "dogtrot" style log cabin considered to be the oldest building in Iowa; and a "badger hole" used by early settlers until they could afford to build an above ground home. The park is known for the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture of the buildings and gardens, and being a wintering area for bald eagles. We stopped at a cliff in the park to take in a magnificent view overlooking the Mississippi River and Lock & Dam number 11. Before stopping for dinner, we got to view the evening sun reflecting off the 23 carat gold leaf dome of the Dubuque County Courthouse.

We capped the experience with evening dinner at of course another former brewery, the Star of Dubuque Restaurant. "Mom and Dad Bruin," allowed the "kids" to release their stored energy from the weekend with a paper airplane battle, while they waited for mammoth portions of pork chops, prime rib, salmon, or chicken to satisfy their hunger. Soon thereafter, tired T-birders retreated to the hotel hospitality room for one more hurrah.

On the way back to Chicagoland on Monday, as expected, the tour stopped at a Culver's in Winnebago for "butter burgers" and other treats before going their separate ways. Of special note, Gerry and Pat Peterson were congratulated on their 50* wedding anniversary. Moreover, throughout the tour Peter and MaryLu Kramer were thought of during their time of need. Members participating in the CTCC Fall tour were Tom & Judy Bruin, Gordon Gluff & Mary Ziemba, Joel Greenberg & Annie Luginbill, Len & Mary Keil, Larry & Karen Kelly, Gerry & Pat Peterson, Ed Levin & Rose Kovalenko, Jerry & Doreen Michna, Dan & Dan Jr. Mrozek, Doug & Soon Hee Rogers, Lloyd & Joan Schellin, Gary & Debbie Smithe, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Bob & Sue Wenderski, Bill & Liz Werth, Jim Wilson, and Chad & Kami Woody.

Doug Rogers

Monday, October 8, 2012

Klairmont Kollection

CTCC Visits the Klairmont Kollection
by Tom Bruin

Saturday 9/29/2012

A spectacularly sunny and warm autumn day greeted several CTCC members as they

gathered for breakfast (you didn't think we would plan an event that didn't include food,

did you?) at the Golden Nugget restaurant in Chicago's Old Irving Park neighborhood on

Saturday, September 29th. CTCC members participating included: Gordon Gluff, Larry

and Karen Kelly, Len Keil, Doug Rogers, Dan Anderson, Tom Wolfe, Bill Werth, ]oel

Greenberg, Tom Bruin, Ron Pavlak, Jim Wilson, Dan Renna (and friend Bill Mingottij), and

Dave Pogorski. Many kudos go out from all of us to ]oel Greenberg who did a great job

organizing the event. Thanks Joel!

Once your trusty scribe finished guiding his compatriots and car-pool partners to the

restaurant (I was using the Jim Wilson GPS!] we indulged in hefty stacks of pancakes, fluffy

4-egg omlettes and plenty of coffee. The crew at the Golden Nugget did an outstanding job

accommodating our crowd, and were gracious enough to treat us all to a slice of

complimentary cheesecake to top off the meal. Fellow diners were able to enjoy a mini-car

show in the restaurant parking lot as ]oel, Bill Werth and the Kelly's all drove their vintage

T-birds on what was a glorious day for driving.

After breakfast we caravanned a few blocks to the Klairmont Kollections, a private

collection of more than 400 vintage cars that have been assembled by Chicago

entrepreneur Larry Klairmont. Mr. Klairmont is a WWII veteran that served in the US

Marines in the Pacific theater, and saw action on both Iwo ]ima and Saipan. Upon his

return to Chicago after the war, he opened a small laundry business, eventually buying the

building where his cleaning business was located. This was the humble beginning of a real

estate career that still thrives today. Mr Klairmont's collection is only open to private

viewing on a limited basis, but what a treat for us to see his wonderful and eclectic

assortment of rare and valuable cars. His collection includes many rare Rolls Royce cars,

Duesenbergs, Auburn's, Cord's, Cadillacs and Lincolns. Many of the cars were pre-war and

late 40's through early 1960's vintages. What is particularly amazing is that Mr. Klairmont

just starting collecting three short years ago! (he must have a lot of fun at car auctions the

past couple of years!!]

All in all, it was a fun and interesting day doing what most of us on the club enjoy

most...admiring classic automobiles!

photos- a "Woody", Larry Kelly and friend sit and chat in front of Larry's Garage and a rare Birdsnest. Photos by Doug Rogers

Monday, September 17, 2012

Johnsburg Parade

Everyone loves a parade and the village of Johnsburg is no exception! Their annual German celebration of "Saufen and Spiel" prompted a number of T-Birds from our club to volunteer driving some prominent village officials in their parade. Everyone who volunteered met at the home of Len and Mary Keil. As the morning was quite sunny with very crisp temperatures, most of us drove to Johnsburg with the tops on the cars. When everyone arrived at the Keil home, there was ample time to remove a couple of hardtops and put the softops down. Then there was time for a cup of coffee and a piece of coffeecake. Departure time came at 11:45 and eleven T-Birds drove into town for the lineup. The parade was scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. Once the cars were in place, we girls got our lawn chairs and headed down the street to watch the parade. Helen, Soon Hee, Mary, Judy, Joan, and Kathy were the spectators joining the crowd of people already lined up along the parade route.

The parade began with the honor guard, fire trucks, and emergency vehicles. Our wonderful T-Birds followed with the fire chief, police chief, village president, and the village trustees. The Thunderbirds made a spectacular show of color as they drove passed us. The parade also consisted of many town sports teams, martial art students, gymnastic groups, bands, some Cadillac convertibles, and of course tractors. The parade ended with a pair of black Clydesdale horses hitched to a red wagon. Lots of candy was thrown from the parade participants, and it was a beautiful day for this event.

After completing the parade route, the cars were on display on the ball diamond and drew a lot of attention! We made on our way back to the Keil’s home about 2:00 p.m. Everyone enjoyed hamburgers and hotdogs along with some tasty side dishes. The following participated in the outing: Dan Anderson, Tom and Judy Bruin, Gordon Gluff, Joel Greenberg, Art Hahl, Bob and Helen Hoge, Len and Mary Keil, Pete Kramer, Doug and Soon Hee Rogers, Lloyd and Joan Schellin, Ken and Kathy Smizinski.

Submitted by Joan Schellin

Wednesday, July 18, 2012



Sunday, June 10!h saw the outside temp­erature in the low 90*s...however, the low humidity and nice breeze, resulted in a very enjoyable Sunday cruise to Millie's Restaurant in Delavan, Wl. After a superb breakfast, the ladies had some shopping time, while the guys sat around outside and traded exaggerated stories (cars). At 11:45, we left Millie's for a cruise through downtown Lake Geneva, and headed north to the Trolley Museum in East Troy. Our trolley car, # 1583, was built around 1910, and saw its service in Minneapolis. We rode #1583 for 5-miles to the Elegant Farmer (historic large farm food store) for more shopping, then the 5-mile ride back museum depot. Those that could not re­sist, walked across the tracks to an old fashioned ice-cream parlor, where they enjoyed some great cool-off treats.

Club members enjoying the day were: Dan Anderson, Tom & Judy Bruin, Laura & Mike Cieienski, Joel Greenberg, Gail Hascek, Bob & Helen Hoge, Len & Mary Keil, Larry & Karen Kelly, Jerry & Doreen Michna, Ron Pavlak, Doug & Soon Hee Rogers, Jerry & Joan Schellin, Ken and Kathy Srnizinski, Len & Irene Vinyard, Jim Wilson and Tom & Alice Wolfe.

And we had Fun, Fun Fun, etc.

- Bob and Helen Hoge



On a warm and sunny afternoon, twenty-one club members met at a favorite spot for lunch -Culver's. After lunch, we rode in a caravan to see Ed and Judy Schoenthaler's Classic auto collection. We drove our own little classics, and we caused quite a few heads to turn as we motored to our destination. Ed and Judy Schoenthaler have been actively involved in the automobile hobby for over 40 years. The "stars" in this show start as early as their 1919 Paige Daytona Speedster and go all the way through the Classic era to a 1957 Dual Ghia. The car collection consists of specimens in perfect running condition Ed started up several engines to show and excite the group. These award-winning beauties have been exhibited at Pebble Beach, Meadow Brook, Amelia Island and the close in Geneva Concours. In addition to the automobile displays, we were shown a collection of rare vintage wind up toys, a large and impressive model train exhibit and memorabilia such as miniature cars of all series. There were also Disney collectibles, and of all things, a Teddy Bear exhibit encompassing an entire room. This collection belongs to a Schoenthaler family member.

It was an impressive afternoon and Ed and Judy were our very gracious hosts. Ed and

Judy were presented a framed picture of a 1932 Duesenberg Phaeton to show our

appreciation to them for spending the time to give us a great tour. Note: Bert Eisenhour

supplied the exquisite picture and Prez Pete made certain it was framed to showcase the lithograph

Those members in attendance:

Dan Anderson, Pete and Lisa Eksktrom, Bob and Helen Hoge, Larry and Karen Kelly, Pete and Marylu Kramer, Mike Pavlak, Jerry Peterson, Dave Pogorski, Ken and Josh

Smizinski, Lloyd and Joan Schellin, Len and Jeff Vinyard, Jim Wilson and Joe and Jeanette Wintz

- Marylu Kramer

Bristol Renaissance Faire


Saturday, July the 14th, saw the CTCC drive up north to Bristol, Wisconsin, to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. We met at the Lake Forest oasis before heading up to the Faire. We met several people there, including Joel and Annie. My brother and I were in my Grandpa's Thunderbird. There were several Thunderbirds in the procession or at least it appeared so to me; I am not used to seeing five or more classic Thunderbirds lined up in a row! At any rate, more Thunderbirds joined us as we made our way toward Bristol. Once we arrived, we were greeted by two guides handing out maps (in a competitive fashion - always funny!). We then entered the Faire.

My Grandpa, my brother and I were quickly drawn to the different shops and displays they had. I was surprised at the amount of detail the costumes had as well as the number of people dressed in them. From real chain mail to the elaborate bard costumes, they were extravagant, to say the least. They also spoke with an English accent and with fervor, which made them all seem almost as if they were from 16th century England. One of the highlights was watching a man melt glass and make figurines. They were incredibly detailed, and the process was fascinating.

We soon stopped at a show. A gypsy juggled flaming batons, knives, and hats, which was interesting to watch. Another show had a tight-rope walker; a different show had acrobats, who performed acts which looked as if they would kill themselves. And of course there was the Mud Show, in which the "beggars" dragged themselves through a mud pit. All of the shows were laced with witty humor. For much of the day we watched as the actors humiliated themselves, balanced themselves precariously upon each other, or ate mud!

We bought a few souvenirs. My brother and I each bought a wooden sword, dagger and shield to spar with - Mom was thrilled. They had many other things for sale as well as costumes for rent. The food there was good. I had a gyro, with several toppings I usually don't have, but it tasted good. My brother had curly fries with cheese that were very good as well. My Grandpa had a brat that I can only assume was good.

Overall, we had a great time. It is hard to ask for much more from a Renaissance Faire! Thanks, Grandpa, for taking us!

Lucas and Nick Peterson

Members who were present included Tom and Judy Bruin, Len and Mary Keil, Larry and Karen Kelly, Pete Kramer, Annie Luginbill and Joel Greenberg, Jerry Peterson (with authors Lucas and Nick), Ken Smizinski, Doug and Soon Rogers (with nephew David), and Bob and Sue Wenderski. (Gordon Gluff came later but was not part of 'the procession.')

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Johnsburg "Suafen ein Spiel" Parade and Festival

Attention club members.  The Village of Johnsburg is hosting their annual  "Suafen ein Spiel" Parade, Sunday Sept. 9. 2012.  We have been invited to be the “official” parade cars at this event.  We need 12 cars, tops off, to transport village officials in the parade. 

Johnsburg may be  a small village, but this event and the parade is BIGGGGGGGG. You will be amazed  at the people attending. This would be a fun  day-trip/outing for interested club members.  Following the parade we will enjoy their festival including music, beer, food and camaraderie. 

The parade details are as follows:
  • Parade will start at 12:30.
  • Parade is approximately one mile.
  • There will be the ever present fire trucks, horses, farm vehicles, etc.

As an added "bonus" the parade organizers are planning to feature our cars in a mini car show, T-Birds only, after the parade.  This is a great opportunity to come out in force and show off our cars, so please plan on attending this event.

More complete details will be in the August Bird News.

Please RSVP to  Len Keil  at  815-759-8763

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Spring Tour- 2012

Spring Tour 2012 – Hannibal Missouri – Hosts Ken & Kathy Smizinski – May 4-7

It was early morning as the birds flew into the parking lot of the McDonalds\BP on I55, just south of I80. As we all gathered to grab some vittles and prepare for the journey, Kathy Smizinski our Tour Hostess, handed out our Hannibal Spring Tour packet. As 8:30 am approached, Tour Leader, Ken, announced it was time to hit the road, for our journey was to begin. The weather was cloudy and a bit cool, but we hoped for a rain free journey and no breakdowns. Our caravan started out with 17 cars and as we rolled down I55, an additional 5 cars were sitting along the Dwight ramp waiting to join in our caravan. Our first stop was Funk’s Grove, a rest area 99 miles from our original meeting place. As we stretched and mingled another ‘Bird flew in with its feathers a little tattered. Debbie Powless and her daughter, Vanessa had had a long ride from Byron with their lil bird having a few issues on the way. But with a few adjustments - and fingers crossed - we hoped she would be able to continue on as we departed the rest stop. Since Mike and I were bringing up the rear in the caravan (we were the parts and tools truck), we kept an eye out on the t-birds and watched the radar on our IPad. The radar looked ominous wth large storms moving through central Illinois, but we were lucky and dodged the storms with just a few light showers. Our journey brought us to our lunch destination in Jacksonville. As we drove through town, many locals stood on their porches to watch the parade of T-birds drive by. We stopped at Lonzeretti’s which is an Italian Restaurant located in the old train station in Jacksonville. We had a choice of several menu items ranging from Lasagna, Chicken Parmesan, Pork Tenderloin sandwich, Hamburger and more. Everything was excellent, kudos to Ken & Kathy for finding this quaint restaurant in a great setting with delicious food.

Our tummies were content for the final 70 miles into Hannibal, but now it was time to make sure our birds tummies were as well. We all tanked up and met along side Market Street by I72 for the final leg. We flew into the Best Western parking lot in Hannibal a little before 4pm. With 44 club members in attendance and 23 filled parking spots (13 classic birds, 5 new birds, 1 90’s bird and 4 non birds), we all checked in occupying 23 of the Hotel’s rooms. We now had a little time to settle in before the evening activities began.

We met in the hospitality\breakfast room area for pizza and drinks. We sang “Happy Birthday” to those on the tour who were celebrating May birthdays and Doug Rogers presented Kathy Smizinski and Irene Vinyard with characture pictures. Pete Kramer made a few announcements and Kathy asked everyone if they could make a small donation to “Tom and Becky” who were to be our guests for the evening. Well, “Tom and Becky” never showed up. They must have been playing in the caves and lost track of time. But we all still had a great time conversing and it was decided to that our donations would go towards the Food Pantry that the Werth’s help out with.

On Saturday (Cinco de Mayo) we had the day on our own. After breakfast many of us walked into town to see the various shops and look around the historic district which contained the homes of Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, Becky Thatcher, the J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office (Mark Twain’s dad) and Grant’s Drug Store, along with the infamous fence that Tom Sawyer and crew painted. You could tour some of these structures along with the Museum. There was also the Hannibal History Museum, which houses 13 original Norman Rockwell Pictures. Throughout the day many of us took the hour long Trolley Tour which provided us with the History of Hannibal. The Trolley took us around downtown Hannibal and then headed out of town past the “Unsinkable Molly Brown’s” Home/Museum (Titanic) to Riverview Park which had winding roads through wooded scenery and a 250 foot drop off the cliffs along the Mississippi. At the top, overlooking the River, was a statue of Mark Twain.

During the day, Pete Kramer and the Kelly’s drove about 15 miles out of town to the Starlight Alpaca Ranch and had a tour of the working ranch along with its 100+alpacas and a few new babies. Debbie Powless and her daughter, Vanessa went to the Mark Twain Cave. This cave was discovered in the winter of 1819-1820 when Jack Simms and his dog went on a hunting trip. His dog chased a panther, which was the sport in those days, into a small opening on the side of a hill. Since it was late in the day, Jack blocked the entrance, came back with his brother and torches the next day and found the cave. No one knows the outcome of the dog and panther though. Mark Twain wrote about this cave in about five of his books. The entrance on the side of the hill was in his book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, where Tom and Becky were being chased by InJun Joe and went into the cave to try and escape. Debbie and Vanessa said walking through the cave was very interesting and that the temperature was a constant 52 degrees.

That evening we met at the Mark Twain River Boat for a dinner cruise down the Mighty Mississippi. Our cruise consisted of drinks and a buffet dinner, along with entertainment. The buffet was great with beef and chicken as the main course, and chocolate brownie in a cup for dessert. After dinner we all went to the upper decks to watch the sunset and view the scenery. Several of the guys went in the wheelhouse to help the captain navigate down the river. We went by the island that Mark Twain went out to and cruised down the Illinois side and up the Missouri side. After we docked, several of us took pictures of the Super moon rising up into the sky.

We headed back to the hotel for more conversation and merriment, with our hosts for the evening being Ken & Kathy. Though we did not partake in any Cinco de Mayo activities or fare, I guess you could say we stayed in the spirit with the guacamole dip and salsa and chips back in the hospitality room. So, all was not lost.

Sunday morning brought a couple of hours of free time. Mike and I headed to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse. The lighthouse was located at the north end of Main Street and overlooked the town and the Mississippi River. This was a quest for many of us to see if we could climb the 244 steps to the lighthouse and view the scenery. Well we made it (as did the others who tried)… of course we were huffing and puffing and gasping for air all the way up. The easy part of the adventure to the lighthouse was coming down.

In the afternoon, we flew up the Hill from the hotel to Rockcliffe Mansion. This mansion was built between 1898 – 1900 by lumber baron John Cruikshank, this 30 room, 13,500 sq ft mansion over looks Hannibal and the Mississippi River. Back in the day this mansion was of grandeur, using only the finest of woods,(mahogany, oak and walnut) throughout the mansion and Tiffany Crystal for some of the window areas and light fixtures. Mr. Cruikshank and his wife and four daughters lived in the mansion from 1900 to 1924 when Mr. Cruikshank died. Mrs. Cruikshank moved out of the mansion soon after into the home next door where her daughter lived. The mansion stood vacant for 43 years and survived being destroyed when a few Hannibal families purchased the property in 1967. They started to renovate it and bring it back to its grand luster. Most of the antique furnishings have been preserved and are still in the Mansion. We divided into two groups to go through the mansion. Now this mansion is known to be haunted; they believe it is Mr. Cruikshank. Though, when you ask the tour leaders about the mansion being haunted, they really don’t want to talk about it. Guess it might scare off the bed and breakfast visitors. Though we did get our tour guide to say “Yes it was haunted”, and said that she had lived in the mansion for several years and had seen the ghost of Mr. Cruikshank. We went up two the second floor where she showed us the various rooms and pointed out a baby buggy in the hall, close by the stairs. She said that the buggy was originally on the 3rd floor in the play / grand room area but one morning when they came in several weeks ago, it mysteriously appeared on the 2nd floor. We then ventured up to the 3rd floor to the Grand Room, which she mentioned was the hot spot for Paranormal activity. As we were up there, Dan Mrozek’s son went to a little nook area and opened a small door to see inside. Well all of a sudden there was a loud bang that came from behind. A bit later, when the door was moved, there was another loud bang. Maybe Mr. Cruikshank was letting us know he was watching us.

After our tour we headed 2 miles out of town to Sawyers Creek Fun Park. There we ate at the Rustic Oak Riverview Dining. They served a large buffet consisting of Fried Chicken, Beef, Frog Legs, mashed potatoes, green beans and much more. Ken made a few announcements and brought up Madeline Zambon and mentioned about how her Joe had loved Frog Legs, so in honor of Joe we ate Frog Legs. Well at least most of us did. After dinner we went through the gift shop and then headed back to the hotel. Three members bid a goodbye to make their journey home, while the rest of us prepared for our next event.

That evening we met for our Haunted Hannibal Tour. Two trolleys came to the hotel to pick us up and take us on our spooky adventure. Our narrators for the tour were Lisa and Ken Marks who wrote the book “Haunted Hannibal”, and are the curators at the Hannibal History Museum. We drove around Hannibal and learned about the history and secrets of many of the haunted sites in Hannibal. They talked about both past and present stories which included murder and mischief during the time of Mark Twain. They told us about the ghosts of the mansions on Millionaires Row, the old church in town and the Labinnah Restaurant (Hannibal spelled backwards). We then ventured out to the Old Baptist Cemetery to find us some ghosts. Lisa and Ken explained how to use “dowling rods” which they said can draw paranormal activity. We then ventured off amongst the graves with some of us using the “dowling rods”. To the amazement of some, the “dowling rods” started to move about, pointing or pulling us to gravesites. Ken was pulled to a grave that had the date May 5 on it. Mary Kiel was pulled to a grave that had her birthday on it. My rods crossed and I was directed to a gravestone that had “Mary Coleman” on it. I asked if this was Mary and said to straighten the rods if it was and slowly my rods went straight, at which I said did you live in Hannibal all your life, if yes cross the rods and slowly the rods crossed. At this point I was a bit spooked so I said goodbye to Mary and quickly handed the rods over to Mike and told him to talk to her. Debbie and her daughter Vanessa said they encountered a teenage girl at an unmarked grave. They asked several questions and found the girl was never married and had had no children, they also found out that her family knew she was buried there and then dragged them to the edge of the cemetery with their dowling rods pointing to the house across the street. After the cemetery we continued on back to downtown Hannibal where they showed us where the red light district was and that on one restaurant Lulabel’s the red light still glows. Back in the hospitality room, Dan Mrozek’s son was looking through the pictures he had taken at the cemetery and it seemed that on his rapid shots, one picture had a round orb in it and the other one didn’t. So it was a very interesting evening.

Our journey home Monday was a bit rainy. We took the same route back, with our first rest stop in Springfield, we then continued onto Culvers in Bloomington, where many birds either tanked up and continued on or ate and then continued home.

A “BIG” thank you goes out to our hosts Ken & Kathy Smizinski who did a wonderful job planning and coordinating the Spring Tour. A great time was had by all. Those in attendance for the Spring Tour were: Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Len & Irene Vinyard, Dan Mrozek & his son Dan, Bill & Liz Werth, Rudy and Janet Budach, Debbie Powless and her daughter Vanessa, Joe & Sandy Kraatz, Len & Mary Keil, Ed Levin & Rose Kovalenko, Joel Greenberg & Annie Luginbill, Pete Kramer, Tom & Judy Bruin, Doug & Soon Hee Rogers, Madeline Zambon and her friend Carol, Pete & Lisa Ekstrom, Mitch & Pat Mitchell, Jerry & Doreen Michna, Larry & Karen Kelly, Jim Wilson, Jerry & Pat Peterson, Bob & Barbara Sroka, Bob & Helen Hoge and Mike and Laura Cielenski.

Submitted by:

Laura Cielenski

Tech Session- 2012


Saturday, April 28 thirty CTCC members gathered at Bob Wendrerski’s garage for our annual Spring dust-off event, a Tech Session given by Ken Smizinski. The weather was cold and rainy but three “retro” ‘Birds parked in the rear of the property. Andy Rominiecki drove a Merlot ‘04, Pete Kramer a ’05 Cashmere, and your scribe a Thunderbird Blue’02 Others in attendance were Dan Anderson, Lee Bakakos, Tom Bruin, Jim Elijah, Joe Esdale, Gordon Gluff, Joel Greenberg, Arthur Hahl, Len Keil, Larry Kelly, Joe Kraatz, Bob Lindsten, Jerry Michna, Dan Mrozek, Ron Pavlak, Jerry Peterson, Dave Pogorski, Lloyd Schellin, Gary Smithe, , Ken Smizinski, Bob Sroka, Len Vinyard, Bob Wenderski, Bill Werth, Joe Wintz, Tom Wolfe, and Kami Woody.

Bob had the club library out for our perusal. After coffee and rolls, Ken started the Tech Session. The first major topic was brake adjustment and maintenance. Early ‘Bird brakes are not self adjusting. If you spin a tire and it keeps rolling, the brakes likely need adjustment. There are three types of brake fluid. Dot 3 and Dot 4 are compatible and can be mixed. These absorb moisture. Silicone brake fluid should not be mixed with the other types under ANY circumstance and poses a problem in that it is too thin to make the brake lights work. Cars using silicone brake fluid require a mechanical brake light switch. The advantage of this is that the pressure can be adjusted so that it goes on in advance. Condensation builds up in the brake system and the car starts to pull. This is not a problem in temperate climates such as California. Ken told the old adage about brakes, “It’s not if it’s going to leak, it’s when.”

Most people use Dot 3 brake fluid which is very corrosive and leads to rust and sediment. Every 2 years it is wise to pull all of the dirty fluid out of the master cylinder with a turkey baster. This extends the life of the brake system. Dot 4 is high temperature brake fluid and should be used with dual master cylinder disc brakes. Heat from the exhaust manifold builds up and degrades brake fluid. Silicone brake fluid has a pinkish color and if you don’t know what type is in your car, don’t guess. The disadvantage of old brake fluid is that it absorbs moisture.

The problem with stainless steel brake lines is the seal at the ends. The flex line for the rear brakes goes along the main part of the frame to a block and the wheels on the left side. On 90% of cars, brake lines deteriorate from the inside. ’55 and ’56 ‘Birds have the rear brake line going through the frame. For most cars, it is original. The emergency brake cable has two adjustment issues, the center pull and the lever arm. Emergency brake cables must be taut. The nut on the back of the arm can be adjusted so there is more tension on the cable in front.

The rubber plugs should be taken out and brakes adjusted once per year. Crank the star down, tighten, and back off 1 turn. Brake pads absorb moisture and fail from age. As brakes glaze more from this moisture, it becomes harder to stop the car. There is a rubber stop, a block that plugs in to the frame. If the brake pedal is too high, the rubber block is off. In an emergency stop with disc brakes, the plunger must activate the second master cylinder. With drum brakes the front do 70% of stopping, the rear 30%. With disc brakes it is 75%, 25%.

The last major topic of the Tech Session was cooling system maintenance. There is a drain plug on the radiator and two on the block under the exhaust manifold and the power brake booster. All three should be opened to drain the cooling system of old antifreeze. CLR can be poured into the block from the bypass hose opening to clean out rust and sediment. Extended life antifreeze is made for aluminum blocks and is NOT for Thunderbirds. Our cars have a pressurized system and the radiator cap is spring loaded to provide 13# of pressure. Pressure raises the boiling point of antifreeze and a pump can be used to test pressure. Even a cap which looks good may not provide enough pressure.

In a general discussion Ken mentioned that any part for the ‘Bird is available in 24 hours. There is no such thing as matching numbers for our cars as there is no serial number on the engine block. The serial number is on the firewall, on the right side of the frame in the rear, and on the frame over the rear end. The body must be off the frame to read the last one. Ken has seen Thunderbirds with Ford passenger car data plates.

The problem with sealing gas tanks is that residue gets in the carburetor and fuel system. New tanks are readily available at a reasonable price. If a ‘Bird has a passenger car transmission, the speedometer runs backwards. The speedometer typically reads 10 mph. over the actual speed. A discussion of the quality of parts available from vendors followed. Ken has seen defective coil resistors and accelerator pumps sent out.

We then had the group photo session and most of the group went to Fat Man’s Bowl for lunch. We then said our goodbyes and departed, looking forward to the Spring Tour.

 By Jim Wilson

Friday, May 25, 2012



The 2012 schedule for the Bristol Renaissance Faire has been published, and Joel and Annie will be taking the Club for 'Celtic Celebration' on Saturday, July 14th. Tickets are $11 ($1.50 less than 2011!), and the plan is the same as last year: Meeting at the Lake Forest Oasis, leaving by about 9:30 AM, and linking up with the 'northern/western' crew at the gas station located at Russell Road and Frontage Road to process in grand style to the Faire. Our cars will be parked in the Faire's Reserved Section as they were last year - up in front for everybody to look at!

Feel free to call Joel/Annie at 773-348-3233 with any questions or send an e-mail to We're looking forward to another great time and hope that you can join us!

Annie Luginbill and Joel Greenberg

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Annual CTCC Picnic

Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland

(for CTCC member, spouse/significant other and minor children)

Date: AUGUST 11, 2012
Time: 11:00 am

Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve
The preserve is located in Wayne, IL in Northwest DuPage County
west of Route 59, one mile north of Army Trail Road on Powis Road.
Follow the signs to the CTCC Thunderbird parking area.
For maps and information visit the website

What to Bring:
A dish to share (see below*) & serving utensil
Lawn chairs for sitting outside the pavilion Lawn game (volleyball, badminton, frisbee, etc.)

What NOT to Bring:
Alcohol of any kind
Swimming gear (there is no swimming)

R. S. V. P. by Saturday. August 4
Call Liz Werth (630-469-8406)
* tell her which dish you will bring to share - a side dish, a salad or a dessert

This year we are asking CTCC Members to bring donations for the People's Resource
Center Food Pantry in Wheaton. All non-perishable foods, personal care items and
cleaning supplies will be gratefully received and taken to the pantry for distribution. Our
donations will help families who are not as fortunate as we and who often have to
decide whether to pay the rent or buy groceries.

Donors will receive a special gift and raffle tickets.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

College of DuPage Car Show

Follows below is Doug Roger's  summary of the CTCC participation at the show:

Assistant Professor Steve Thompson, Co-Host of the Latino Ethnic Association, and forty (40) college students of the College of DuPage (COD) went out of their way to extend their genuine hospitality during their inaugural Car Show on Sunday, April 22nd.  209 automobiles registered resulting in $8,000 being raised for minority scholarships.  COD considers the event a success as their goal was for 150 to 200 cars.  Additional students from the COD took pictures and video for their photography class and several English majors interviewed attendees as to how their automobile reflected their personality. On the Monday after, students critiqued their performance and have already come up with a dozen items to improve the next show, which they hope will become an annual event. Steve and the students are to be congratulated, as they put forth a tremendous amount of time and effort leading up to show and did everything possible to please all attendees throughout the day.
Seven Classic Thunderbirds and a 63 M-code Roadster were displayed by members Len Keil, Peter Kramer, Mike Pavlak, Ron Pavlak, Doug Rogers, Bill & Liz Werth, and Jim Wilson.  They endured a windy, mid 40 degree day to partake in the activities to include no less than a “low-rider hip-hop” demonstration by the local chapter of Street Wise.  For those that have never seen a “hip-hop” before the object is for the owner of the “low-rider” to bounce the car from front to back as high as possible with a remote using the car’s custom hydraulic system.  Seeing the cars bounce up and down with sparks flying is quite an interesting experience, to say the least.  While perhaps a bit out of sync with antique automobile enthusiasts, the “low-riders” were certainly not short on technology and quality workmanship with truly artistic paint schemes. One “low-rider” even had aircraft landing hydraulics supported by the typical six batteries in the trunk to lift the body from the frame in every configuration imaginable.  Over 200 photos of the COD Car Show were taken by Ron Brickman that can be viewed by visiting under the “My Photo Section” tab.
Doug Rogers

Monday, April 23, 2012

USO Party

Ken Kresmery hosted the 2nd Annual "Stars and Stripes" USO fundraiser at his Poplar Grove hangars on April 21. Sixteen CTCCers attended the event which began with a posting of the colors by Post VFW 1461 and American Legion Post 77 Honor Guard. Bob Hoge and his band provided terrific "big band" dance music and also accompanied Bob and Helen's granddaughter, Mary, and Ken's daughter-in-law, Candy, as they sang beautifully. Two tables adjacent to the dance floor accommodated the CTCC crowd and its many bottles for the BYOB party. Following a meal of "typical" military food (think SOS, spam and the like), the band played while most everyone danced. Kathy Smizinski wore her father's army jacket and dog tags. She and Ken displayed their excellent jitterbug and polka skills. Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko and Lloyd & Joan Schillen also danced quite a bit. During the evening, we were treated to a visit of two "little people" who danced around the room to some military songs. Many thanks to Ken Kresmery for inviting CTCC to take part in this event. We look forward to attending the August 19 "Day at the Hangar" which is always a fun family outing.
Attendees, in addition to those mentioned above: Pete Kramer, Len & Mary Keil, Len Vinyard, Doug & Soon Rogers and Bill & Liz Werth.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tech Session

Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland



AT BOB'S GARAGE 265 N. WAUKEGAN RD. - Lake Forest, IL 60045
TEL: 847-234-2394 EMAIL: (

*****R.S.V.P. BEFORE APRIL 25, 2011*****



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pizza Party- Meeting

On Thursday, February 9th, 38 CTCC club members enjoyed an evening of pizza at Jake's Pizza in Mt. Prospect. Always a popular event as it kicks off the car season. It gives everyone a chance to catch up on car talk and gives the feeling that spring is indeed around the corner so that soon we can pull off the dust covers from our sleeping Birds! Always delicious pizza and a great evening. New member Andy Romaniecki was introduced. Personal care items were also donated by members for the Food Pantry.

Doug Rogers presented the budget for 2012 club year and this will be voted on at the next regular meeting on March 8th. Please note that the new meeting place is Mr. Beef & Pizza at Elmhurst and Algonquin Roads Mt. Prospect.

At the March 8th meeting we will have the election of new directors and preview highlights of the upcoming year. Board members also modeled the new club shirts that will be available to order in the coming months. Tom Bruin is heading up the ordering. They include a denim shirt, polo shirts, front half zipper sweat shirts and a pull over hoodie. All embroidered with the TBird emblem and your individual name.

Prez. Pete spoke briefly about the possibility of a 2014 National Tbird Convention observing the TBird 60th Anniversary. A committee is being formed to explore this event. In addition, also mentioned was the convention coming up in August in Memphis. Ken Smizinski spoke on the Spring Tour to Hannibal and urged everyone attending to get in your hotel reservations.

Marylu Kramer

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spring tour- May 4-7, 2012


The Club will host a "welcome party" on Friday night with special guests: Tom & Becky.

Saturday is a day to relax and tour downtown Hannibal at your leisure.

Saturday night the Club will enjoy a two-hour dinner jazz cruise down the mighty Mississippi.

Sunday - Sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast before we tour the famous Rockcliffe Mansion (built in 1898).

A late lunch/early dinner can be enjoyed before our "Haunted Hannibal" tour on Sunday evening.

Best Western on the River
$89 per night
(breakfast included)
for reservations call: 877 248-1155 or 573 248-1150
(Hotel is within walking distance of most sights)

Pre-paid tour cost- $73.00 per person.*
tour reservation must be made by April 3
Make checks payable to CTCC and send to:
Ken Smizinski
157 Oaksbury Lane
Palatine, IL 60067
*Price includes Dinner Cruise, Rockcliffe Mansion Tour and Haunted Hannible.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tachometer Cable Noise

Tachometer Cable Noise
By Gene Nelson

The Question-- All of a sudden my tachometer started to make a real loud whinning noise. It does increase and decrease with varying speed. Could it be that the drive cable needs lubrication? If so, which end can the cable be removed from, the distributor or the tach itself? Or does the head need rebuilding or replacing? Any info you can share will be helpful as always.

The Answer-- The best way to lubricate the tachometer cable (and the speedometer cable) is to remove the inner cable at the gage end. You can easily reach under the dash and turn the round retainer nut. this should only be finger tight. Once it is disconnected, move the cable end so it is between the dash and floor. The inner cable will come out easily. Pull it all the way out, wiping it off as you pull it out to remove the old lubrication. Be careful because the old black lube will get all over your carpet, upholstery and clothes. It will leave marks that are hard to remove. When you reinstall the cable put some cup grease in your hand and apply it as you slide the cable back into the jacket. When it is all the way in, rotate the cable to make sure it seats in the gear on the distributor end. Then slide the end back into the tachometer gage, hand tighten the nut and try it out.

The Results-- I did exactly what you suggested with the removal of the cable and cup grease and reinstalled it. I only got to test drive it for a half mile, but it sure was quiet. Much obliged. Bob

[Source credit- TARTC Newsletter, Dearborn, Michigan]

In Memoriam


It is with sadness and a deep sense of personal loss that we note the passing of Bill Thelen, an active long term member of CTCC.

Bill joined CTCC in December of 1994 and soon became the owner of a 1957 Thunderbird. Bill and Bonnie were married in 1997 and they participated regularly in Tours and numerous other Club Events.Bill subsequently purchased a Retro 'Bird, finding its "comfort level" to be a marked improvement over his '57.

Bill's friendly, outgoing nature was always evident, especially when he became involved in discussing his professional career.

The Officers, Directors and membership of CTCC extend their hearfelt condolences to Bonnie and family as we share in their loss.

Bling and 'Bird

Marylu Kramer

Once upon a time. long, long ago. I had a blossoming relationship with an out of town boyfriend --- we met in college. It was long distance, but it turned into a romance and we phoned and wrote often --- no email, Skype, I phone - as these were the days of yore! We eventually agreed on a visit and he told me he had a surprise and that it was shiny --- oh happy day --- yes indeed I immediate!y pictured the something shiny and on the tiny side.

I couldn't wait to see him, and after weeks of planning, he finally arrived --- it was shiny alright, and small --- he introduced me to his 1956 Ford Thunderbird --- and the color --- kind of a pea green. But I was happy to see him: the car (shiny) , albeit a bit small, was cute, I have to admit. It did turn heads as we spent the next few days sightseeing around Chicagoland.

With anticipation I thought the surprise was still forthcoming. My family wasn't too impressed with a suitor showing up in a Ford, as my Dad was a true Cadillac man! After a few days it was time for him to leave --- and nothing shiny came forth --- I was thinking of bling --- a ring --- a diamond. That was my idea of shiny. We said our good-byes and I finally blurted out in a hissy fit. "Do you mean to tell me that you bought a car instead of an engagement ring"? What kind of rational was that --- a car before a ring --- it was over, or so I thought.

It was soon to be Christmas and again, after a few months of phoning back and forth, he said he was coming out to see me for the holidays. I was eager to see him --- there he was pulling up in his family station wagon --- and I might add, again, a Ford. I meekly said, "Where is the cute little car?" (which I secretly did like). He SOLD the T-Bird and bought a ring --- oh happy day --- but the long distance between us did not kindle the romance --- he said to keep the ring! Youthful indiscretion and too much testosterone is a disastrous combination! We said good-bye.

Many years later I met the man of my dreams. And you know what --- this guy had a Ford Station Wagon and also a '66 T-Bird. I eventually told him about the previous suitor who bought a T-Bird instead of a ring. He totally understood why that first guy bought a car instead of some bling! Is this some kind of code among men and their love affairs with cars?

As a surprise, he managed to secretly hunt down a '56 T-Bird in Sage Green - exactly like the first one long ago - and he surprised me with it: we have had many laughs over my "girlish ideals". However, was this just a good reason to buy another 'Bird?--- that, I will never figure out!

Guess what --- I have the fairy tale ending --- I still heve the bling --- I have the car, the man of my dreams, and we did get married. The rest is history.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Executive Offices
1308 E. 29TH STREET
SIGNAL HILL, CA 90755-1842
PHONE (562) 426-2709

Dedicated To
(1955, 1956,1957)

December 3, 2011

Congratulations to the Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland on 50 years of operation. From the time your club was formed as the Thunderbird Sports Car Club of Chicagoland in 1961, you have exemplified your interest in classic Thunderbirds while embracing friendliness and sociability of the members. Your members are, and always have been, very active and continue to drive their Thunderbirds to all events. Since your Charter from CTCI as club #9, you have hosted and managed many events for CTCI members including the Pheasant Runs, the CTCI International Convention in 2000, the 50th Anniversary Party for the Classic Thunderbird, and the USPS dedication of the postage stamp honoring 50 years of the Thunderbird. Your enthusiasm and participation have encouraged all members of CTCI to be more actively involved.

I also want to personally thank the perseverance of Bert Eisenhour for publishing the Bird News since 1970, 41 years of continuous editing and publishing. This is an unequalled effort of any club newsletter editor that deserves special mention during the 50-year anniversary of your club. CTCI wishes to thank your current members who have served on the Board of Directors including Bert Eisenhour, Ken Smizinski and Liz Werth. I want to also acknowledge the original classic Thunderbird owners, Joe & Sandy Kraatz, for keeping their 1957 drivable since its purchase new in 1957. I mention just a few of your many members who meet, socialize, and maintain the spirit of good fellowship while using their classic Ford Thunderbird.

The members of the Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland, for the past 50 years, have exemplified the purpose of CTCI, to encourage and promote the admiration and ownership of the Classic Thunderbird. Thank you for your dedication and may that spirit continue for 50 years more.

Chuck Korenko
President, CTCI

I'd like to Congratulate CTCC on their 50 years of success as a club of CTCI.
I wish you many more years of continued success,
I'd also like to take this time to Congratulate Bert Eisenhour on 41-years as the editor of Bird-News.
Gwen Stadstad - Director of Region 2

Monday, January 2, 2012

A new "Bird lover

Imperfect 1956 T-Bird is just the right pet for its new master

By Debra Powless

My mate, who is a longtime car collector, came home one day and showed me pictures of a 1956 Ford Thunderbird. He said he wanted to buy it for me, but I told him I didn't like it.

A few days later he came home with it to sell it in our little hobby business where we help people sell collector cars. Well, he brought it home and the car was so cute in person and by the time we had taken the photos for the ad, I had changed my mind and decided I did like the car.

So the first thing I did was join the Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland that focuses on the preservation of 1955-56-57 T-Birds. What a nice group of people. They welcomed me into the group and advised me on basic T-Bird rules of thumb. which ended up being very helpful. Not everybody knows how to work on a T-Bird, and since my car had transmissioin and carburetor issues. I am so glad that the president of the club directed me to a gentleman who is an expert at T-Bird repair.

When I drove my little 'Bird, the first thing I noticed is that you do not drive that car unless you are in a pleasant frame of mind and ready to talk to everybody! People, especially girls of ALL ages, love this car! I am used to following my mate in his collector cars and I often enjoy how young boys will sometimes stop and stare as the old car drives by, but that did not prepare me for the attention that my little 'Bird gets.

The mate found an interesting ad for a 1956 T-Bird painted Buckskin Tan so we looked it up and my car is definitely a 'custom color.' It is supposed to be Buckskin Tan but after looking at the car in the ad it appears that my little 'Bird isn't Buckskin Tan or Sunset Coral. I keep going back to look at the photos of the old T-Birds in Buckskin Tan and Sunset Coral, and I definitely like the color of my T-Bird and wouldn't change it. The color of a collector car is so important and makes all the difference. However, maybe, as with my children, I like the color of my little 'Bird because it is mine. We put a cream color soft top on my car, and I am glad that I went with the lighter color.

Anybody who has old cars knows that you do not enter into a relationship with an old car without being prepared to sort it out and learn the quirks. Overall, my little 'Bird was in pretty nice condition. A few chips and stress marks in the paint, but it looks really good from five feet away. However, the carburetor and the transmission needed serious attention. The car was sent to a local garage so I didn't get to drive it for a few weeks. Unfortunately the garage did not fix the problems, so our friendly mechanic made a housecall to work on my car, which ended up taking more than two weeks by the time he took the parts out, sent them off to be fixed, and put them back on the car. Then the mate insisted that I get a soft top in case I ever got caught in the rain with the hard top off. Our friend who owns a salvage yard up in Detroit found me a nice frame and fabric so I made a trip up to Detroit. My brother and his family live there so it was a nice visit, and my nephew and his two sons helped me get the top so I enjoyed spending time with them.

Our interior guy said it would only take him a day to put a new top on. NEVER, ever, believe somebody who tells you that. It doesn't happen. More than a week later, the top was finally on the car but it rained for days so there were more delays in getting to enjoy the car.

The first day I was able to drive it out to Rockford, Illinois, which is about a two-hour drive. I enjoyed the heck out of the ride except the car's speedometer read 70 mph, and I didn't think I needed to drive any faster than 70 mph, and the cars and trucks were just flying by me. Later I learned that these old 'Bird speedometers often read 8-9 miles slower than you are actually driving.

OK, now I am ready to enjoy my car! Oh, wait - the mate has the T-Bird guru come over and do a 100-point inspection and makes plans to rebuild the transmission and put in power brakes and some other improvements and repairs. I am saying 'No, no - let me drive it the way it is and I will have the work done this winter.' The T-Bird guru had an opening in early September so there went my 'Bird again. My mate insisted that he wants to have the car in excellent running condition for me. Ok, it is sweet but still annoying because I just want to drive my car.

T-Birds have an 'X' frame that requires the engine to be pulled to get to the transmission so you can imagine the time involved to work on a transmission. During the downtime, we drove over to get the steering wheel so we could take it to the car painter because the black steering wheel needed to be painted brown to match the interior. The horn ring we were going to have plated was going to cost $1200 to be plated so the T-Bird guru found a nice used horn ring in good condition. However, I had to go get the horn ring from the plater because we needed to use the internal workings for the replacement horn ring. Then I had to take my carburetor to the carb guy in Rockford to be rebuilt. My carb problems earlier were because somebody stuck a 1956 Lincoln carburetor on the car which was too big. Now I have the right carburetor but it needs to be rebuilt. The good news is that the transmission has been repaired and the car is running good and lots of things have been updated or repaired.

So it took all summer to get my car sorted out and ready to drive. I have three granddaugthers, and I have a feeling that they will get a lot of enjoyment out of this car too.

(Reprinted from Old Cars magazine)