Monday, June 2, 2014

Spring Tour- May 2014

 CTCC Spring Fling- May 2-5, 2014

8:00 AM Friday, May 2, 28 CTCC members departed from Rte. 53 and Butterfield Road in Glen Ellyn, Illinois on the first leg of our Spring Tour. Driving Little 'Birds' were Len and Mary Keil, our tour organizers, Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko, Joel Greenberg and Annie Luginbill, Bill and Liz Werth, Len and Irene Vinyard, Lee Bakakos, and Bob and Barb Sroka. Bob drove a tastefully retro-rodded '37 LaSalle with a dashboard he designed himself. More Thunderbird drivers were Doug and Soon Rogers, Larry and Karen Kelly, Dan Mrozek and Arlene Figlia, Jerry and Pat Peterson, Gordon Gluff and Mary Ziemba, and your scribe. Driving Retro 'Birds were Bob and Sue Wenderski and Mike and Laura Cielenski.

We left the Interstate at Rte. 47 to avoid major construction on I-55 over the Des Plaines River in the Joliet area. At Love's Travel Center, further south on Rte. 47, we met Art Hahl driving his Ranchero, Tom and Judy Bruin, and Lloyd (feeling the Love) and Joan Schellin. After our lunch stop in Lincoln, Tom Bruin heard a loud pop, as if he had a tire blow out. I looked to the right and saw he was still rolling. Turns out that his overdrive went out. Tom spent the rest of the tour at 55 mph, and a transmission rebuild will happen sooner, not later. At Lincoln's New Salem Village, where Abraham Lincoln was a resident for six years, we visited 23 historically reconstructed cabins. It was here that we met Ken and Kathy Smizinski, who had come from their lake home in Missouri, Joe and Sandy Kraatz from Valparaiso, Indiana, Madeline Zambon from Crete, Illinois, and Sandra Hood and Geraldine Nuckels, who had come from Dallas, Texas.

After a walking tour of New Salem, it was off to our final destination, the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. Baby 'Birds and a '63 Sport Roadster from Wisconsin were already there when we arrived. The Vander Zandns and the Schermitzlers came from Green Bay and Jewel and Judy Meetz from Brillion. Cyril and Nancy Leick were also in attendance. A contingent from TARTC, Bob and Sandra Lewis and Gene and Linda Nelson, arrived soon afterward. (TARTC is the Detroit area chapter of CTCI.) Bob Young came from  Des Moines, Iowa. John Smith from Kansas City, Missouri joined us as well as Charlie Gouveia and Mitch and Pat Mitchell from the Central Illinois chapter of CTCI. By the time of the pizza party that evening in the hotel hospitality room, our number had grown to 69 people from seven states! 

At the party in the "Capital View" room, Len Keil went over the agenda for the days to follow. Tom Bruin handed out rules and a sign-up sheet for "Horse Play," which he and Doug Rogers devised for Saturday, which was Kentucky Derby Day.

Saturday, May 3, we were off in a caravan, bright and early, for Lincoln's Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Charles, our guide, pointed out how the tomb was constructed and modified over the years as well as interior details of the current monument and told of how a plot by Chicago mobsters to steal Lincoln's body was foiled due to the bungling of the crooks. Lincoln's wife and sons are also buried in the tomb, with the exception of son Robert, who is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

After visiting Lincoln's Tomb, we paid our respects at the World War II, Korea, and Vietnam Memorials. Next stop was The Cozy Dog Drive-In, home of the original 'Hot Dog on a Stick,' a Rte. 66 original. (At the Texas State Fair, they call them 'corny dogs.') After Cozy Dog, we traveled to the original Rte. 66, now Illinois Rte. 4, to visit Auburn, Illinois, where we drove on a brick road. We stopped at Becky's Barn, which handled antiques, collectibles, and Route 66 information. Some purchased Thunderbird and Rte. 66 related signs and T shirts. The proprietor was quite cordial and made sure that we each left with a Rte. 66 brick from a pile of discarded bricks. 

Back in the hospitality room at the hotel, 4 PM was time for the Derby party. The ladies not only sported their most outlandish "Homemade Hats" but modeled them in an equally provocative manner. Kathy Smizinski was the winner by popular acclaim. The "Horse Play" racing game then commenced. Stick horses were used like golf clubs to get a small ball into a bucket across the room. Six racers at a time held onto their horse-head and hit the ball with the stick. There were a number of heats and the fastest finishers from each heat and the slowest finishers participated in a final run-off to determine the top three finishers as well as the slowest three finishers. It was frenzied as the racers hit each other's ball across the room, trying to get theirs into the bucket. Doug and Tom tallied the scores with trophies to follow at the Saturday banquet. While finishing the meal at the banquet, big winners of the "Horse Play" were announced and trophies awarded. I was seated at the table with two winners; Gordon Gluff received a trophy and Bob Lewis was the big winner. He stood up and everyone cried out, "Bob! Bob!" His trophy aptly showed the rear quarters of a horse.

Sunday, May 4, we departed the hotel at 8:30 to tour Lincoln's Home. This is the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned and it is furnished in original and period antique furniture. Several other houses in the neighborhood are restored with some open for tours and some used as State offices. All of the Thunderbirds were able to park along Lincolnshire Blvd. as we toured the Old State Capitol. Charles, our guide from the Tomb, was again escorting us through the Capitol, showing us where Lincoln served in the Illinois General Assembly, Supreme Court chambers, State law library, and every other room. After the Capitol, we visited Union Station, where the movie sets that were used in the movie 'Lincoln' are located. Our next stop was a tour of the Lincoln Museum. This is a place that I experience more every time I see it again. On leaving the museum, we drove in a caravan to Quaker Steak &  Lube Restaurant from dinner. The automotive-themed restaurant featured a '55 Thunderbird hanging overhead as well as a later model Corvette.

Monday, May 5, we said our goodbyes and headed for home. Len Keil led a group on the state highways and Rte. 47 while Ken Smizinski led a group on I-55. We encountered no delay at the river bridge, and by 1:30 I was home mowing the lawn!

Thanks to Mary and Len Keil for leading another memorable tour.

By Jim Wilson

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