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