Ride the River 2018

Ride the River is back!  Tractor enthusiasts from all over are invited to bring their tractors and participate in the 2018 “Ride the River” Vintage Tractor Ride, scheduled for Saturday, August 15, 2018.

The goal of this event is to raise funds to help support students of the Central, Dwight, Herscher, Iroquois West, Manteno, Peotone, River Valley, and Tri Point FFA chapters, while providing tractor riders with an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Kankakee River Valley.

Our Goal in 2018 is to once again help ensure the continued growth for our local FFA Chapters. This year on August 25, 2018 we will present Ride The River 2018.

If you are interested in riding you can get an entry form on our web site or for more info contact Craig Long, Central Illinois Green Club President, 815-263-7008.

February 2018 President’s Message

Most of the members know that I have been aligning some of our positions with Chad Miller and the Kankakee County Farm Bureau. The reason is very simple. Chad and the Farm Bureau have been looking out for our interest in this very troubling time on the farm. Topics such as land acquisitions by the government and or utilities, water shed, chemical retention and relations with our government officials are very important. But the other side of the Bureau is that they support great ideas that we have in common with our Club. Part of our mission statement states that we will educate people to preserve our way of life. Since 2002 we have been working toward those mission goals with scholarships though KCC, donations to local FFA’s and donations to other Clubs who we have common goals with. I want to remind everyone that scholarship applications being taken currently to the Kankakee County Farm Bureau Foundation offering financial support to those furthering their education in an agriculturally related field of study. Last year, nine $1000 scholarships were awarded to Kankakee County students . If you have a son, daughter, grand child or just know a senior who has needs, you can contact Chad at kankfb@sbcglobal.com or 815-932-7471.

All that being said, The Club has supported Kids Day at the Farm since Eldon Chapman brought the idea to the Club. We have contributed $250 again this year to help promote the event. This year Chad has asked the Club if there are some volunteers at the Club who could help them manage some 1500 students that will pass through on the two-day event. Here are his needs.

The program will be Wednesday, March 21 and Thursday, March 22 at the Kankakee County fairgrounds. Setup on Wednesday, March 21 will begin at 8 am and we will need help with that. The students are at the program from 10 am to 2 pm and we will need assistance with a variety of things during that time frame as well. The cleanup begins around 2 pm on Thursday, March 22 and help is appreciated with that too.

Here is a breakdown of the volunteer roles we need to fill:

1. Setup tables and chairs, and other materials on Weds, March 21 at 8 am to 10 am. Also, ssistance with putting together animal pens for the animal building. There are five animal exhibits.

2. Assist with getting students off the school buses as they arrive. Both Weds, March 21 and Thurs, March 22 at around 9 am to 10 am. Each classroom will have a large box filled with their
lunches. That large box will have to be taken from the bus and brought into the main building.

3. Keeping time in the animal building. An instruction sheet will be provided. This would be from 10 am to 2 pm on both Weds and Thurs.

4. Tearing down the tables, chairs, sweeping, and general cleaning up after the program is done at 2 pm on Thursday. Depending on how many FFA students we have helping, it may be that we need a few additional volunteers to guide the classrooms around from presentation to presentation. That would be both days (Weds and Thurs). If you are interested in volunteering, please let me know ahead of time. I will have a signup sheet at the February meeting. Your time is valuable to the project and what better way to support our mission.

This month’s feature is a young man who joined our Club after attending the CIGC meetings with his Uncle Chuck Quick. His name is Joe Buckley and you would recognize him as the youngest member of the CIGC. He regularly attends our meetings and has reported on the activities of the Herscher FFA and the building of the new greenhouse to CIGC. Joe’s parents are Greg and Edie Buckley of Limestone Township. Greg is a 150 Operating Engineer and Edie is a stay at home mom who has a small business at home. Joe regularly helps his Uncle Larry Quick (Chuck’s brother) on his farm. Joe enjoys harvest time most he says. He drives the auger cart during harvest and the chisel plow doing Fall tillage. Joe says he enjoys operating Larry’s 8300 or 9230 Deere tractors while tilling. Joe is a member of the Herscher FFA and has logged approximately 2000 hours in 2017. He will be attending Joliet Junior College’s Ag program in the Fall of 2018. He will specialize in Ag Production and Management. After attending JJC he hopes to achieve an internship helping to operate a farm. Joe reports that the flowers are being planted as we speak in the new greenhouse. Some of the early flowers like impatients, pansies and other seedlings have been planted. This will be the first season for the new greenhouse and flowers should be for sale around Mother’s Day. Joe is also an athlete and competes in Cross Country in the Spring and is also an accomplished Varsity wrestler. You all know that I like those little “but did you know” tweaks that I look for. For example: Did you know that Joe is one of triplets? They are all seniors at Herscher High School. David enjoys music, band and is a Drum Major. Ellen is also a member of the FFA. The triplets have another sister, Lauren who is a sophomore cheerleader. How much fun would it be to have all those teenagers in one house and to be involved in so many activities? Good luck Joe to you and all your siblings.

January 2018 President’s Message

As I look out my window today it is hard to believe that a few weeks ago we were talking about how warm is was for December. This morning it is +2 degrees outside and looks like the frozen Tundra. What a difference a few weeks can make. Speaking of, by the time you get your newsletter we probably have already been to the first toy show of the year at the Atrium for Peotone FFA. It will be quickly followed by the National Farm Show in Louisville which is followed by the IH Winter Convention which is followed by the Senenca Toy Show which is followed by the Sublette and so it goes. It seems like this last year just flew by. If anyone has information about events and their dates, please send them on to me. We probably have also had our first Directors meeting by now too. We are going to talk a lot about the Ride the River event and lining up sponsors. My hope is that we can far succeed 2016 goal so that we can begin sending funds to the FFAs every year. I think it will help them budget better than every other year. We will also talk about some of the events coming this summer and decide how we can best represent CIGC. On a different note the pink barge wagon has been ordered and should be here in early February. If anyone would like to take the pair to a Show to sell some tickets, that would help out greatly.

This month’s feature is Carol Churilla and Bill Hengl. Carol was born to Ed and Myrtle Brinkman of Bonfield, IL. Carol attended Herscher High School and was a member of the Choir and Herscher FFA. Around 1963 Carol’s family moved to Bradley. Carol has worked at some interesting places.
They include Roper Stove, Kankakee, and City National Bank of Kankakee. Carol later worked in Chicago at Libby foods. Around 1967 Carol moved to International Harvester at the West Pullman Plant. She worked in payroll and was one of the last 4 to leave when Pullman closed in the ‘80’s. Carol then moved on to a similar clerical position at Navistar in Schaumburg and retired in
1997 with 30 years of service to the International Harvester Company. Today Carol belongs to several Clubs in the area and is an avid quilter. Carol has been a Director and has held positions of Secretary and Treasurer since the beginning of CIGC. Thank you, Carol for you service to our Club. Carol also is the Secretary of the Olde Time Farm Show, and is a member of the Kankakee Pigeon Club, the Bradley Historical Society, the Navistar International Retirement Club and IH Bowling team. That’s a busy girl right there.

William G. Hengl Jr. or “Bill” as we all know him has lived in Bradley all of his life. In fact, Bill has lived on the same street in Bradley, Fulton, moving from the South end to the North end over his lifetime. Many of Bill’s family still live nearby him on Fulton. Bill attended Bradley Bourbonnais High School and found his passion in building homes and construction. Bill has been in construction since he was 15 years old! Bill became a concrete finisher while working for Azzarelli Construction Company joining the Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers. Bill completed his career working for R&R Construction for 35 years. As he retired he was awarded honors for completing 50 years of service to the Union. That’s impressive. Bill was drawn in by Carol to the CIGC taking him to one of our early meetings. He was afraid that he would not know anyone but Bill may have known more members than Carol. Turns out that some of our members are farmers and also dabble in the construction world too. People like John Evans, Jr. Hackl and Gene Duby and others were in the same business.

Carol says that Nancy Evans drew her into the CIGC because of Club activities, the social parts of the Club, being able to be productive within the Club and being part of something we all enjoy
together. Bill says that Carol took him to his first meeting where he found out that he knew a lot of farmers and that he enjoys the farm life and activities that creates the fellowship he enjoys at the Club. Bill enjoys volunteering at the Perry Farm with Anthony Settles. You will find Bill and Anthony at the Perry Farm a lot and we all enjoy the products that they volunteer for such as the Olde Time Farm Show, Sleepy Hallow, the Bradley Christmas Parade (which was a blast by the way). We see both Bill and Carol at almost all of our events helping out, selling Club paraphernalia, putting up tents, getting the chicken, or donuts and all of those things I can’t remember. Our Club is a far better Club because of your service and fellowship. Thanks for what you both do!

December 2018 President’s Message

It is hard to believe that another year has gone by. By my estimation, 2017 was a blur. There are now more tractor related activities than ever and Green Club members are participating in almost every one locally and then some. Green Club started our year with selling raffles at the Peotone Toy Show, went on the include several guest speakers at our meetings and then came the “Tractor Season.” On nearly any given weekend there was a tractor show, a tractor pull, a tractor ride, somewhere within the reach of Green Club members. Members attended the Morris Tractor Ride, the Herscher Historical Ride, OTFS, Will County Thresherman’s, Penfield I&I Show, our own mini-show at the Kankakee County Fair and more in between. Then came the Half Century Show which by all estimations was the Greatest Tractor Show on Earth! Ok, so one of the greatest shows. Then came the Fall. There were more Antique Tractor Pulls and more participants that ever! This seems to be quite a trend and a direction that is enjoyed not only by us more mature folks, but did you see all those younger folks out there pulling. I hope we continue to support this. It seems likely that we like them tractors in motion, makin’ smoke and getting ‘er done.

2018 will be another busy year. There will be many rides and shows for CIGC members to attend. OTFS is featuring Charter Members and John Deere, Will County Thresherman’s have a new venue in Wilton Center and the National Oliver Show is in Penfield. Oh, did I mention the Central Illinois Green Club is having a tractor ride called “Ride the River.” Everyone, remember those Club members who have passed and have a “Safe and Joyous Holiday.” See everyone in the New Year and please, have a really good one.

This month’s feature is in remembrance of Leo Dumas who left us 1 year ago December 4th, 2016. Leo grew up in the Goodrich area the son of Paul Dumas who was also a farmer. Leo graduated from Herscher High School and began working for Legris Manufacturing located on Old Lehigh road right away. He met Dorothy “Dotty” Kamp from Chebanse, married and had 6 children. Sandy, Becky, Nancy, Judy, Karen and Suzie. They lived in Aroma Park, Manteno and finally settling in Goodrich. Leo grain farmed but also had cattle, hogs, chickens and rabbits. Becky tells Nancy, Judy, Karen and Suzie. They lived in Aroma Park, Manteno and finally settling in Goodrich. Leo grain farmed but also had cattle, hogs, chickens and rabbits. Becky tells us that they (the daughters) were his ranch hands, having to care for the animals and help run the farm. Becky tells us that Leo enjoyed his place in Sebring Florida very much and in later years couldn’t wait to get the crops out so he could go there. Leo enjoyed antiquing, helping his neighbors with projects and traveling to Hawaii. Leo also enjoyed his tractors in later years. He collected and restored several John Deeres including a 4020 that was left to him by the owner of Legris  Manufacturing. He rode it in the 2016 Herscher Parade and was very proud of it. Leo also owned and restored his dad’s International MTA. Mark Chapman a friend and Club member said that Leo kept good care of his equipment while farming and that Mark and his father Eldon purchased a 4450 at Leo’s farm sale. Mark says that Leo was pleased to see that something he had stayed where he could see it used. Mark also bought a John Deere 630 from Leo when he decided to downsize. Mark had a special connection with the tractor prior to Leo’s ownership. He is very happy to have made the purchase for 2 reasons.

John and Nancy Evans shared a memory which I had forgotten. Leo was a Charter member of CIGC. He was also a director in the beginning. At the beginning it became obvious that the Club needed a place to store all of its things and a way to bring them to the Shows. It was decided that a pull type trailer would be perfect for the job and one was selected. The problem was that being a young new Club, we did not have the cash to make the purchase. Leo stepped up and loaned the Club the money, interest free! Over time, the Club paid Leo and Dotty back. It has been a good purchase for the Club and still serves us well. Thanks Leo and & Dotty!

November 2017 President’s Message

On October 19th, 2017 the Kankakee Community College Foundation held their annual meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Convention Center. Mark Chapman and I attended and sat with the recipient of our Scholarship. I want you to meet Nicole Neiner who is the 2017 recipient of the CIGC Agriculture/Horticulture Scholarship. She lives in Manteno, IL and will transfer to a larger University upon completion of KCC. She seems quite bright, easy to talk to and I am sure she is a good fit for our Scholarship. The Olde Time Farm Show has invited CIGC members to ride on the people mover for the Bradley Christmas Parade on December 1. They are meeting at 5pm to decorate the float at the Perry Farm. They will be distributing (5) 5 gallon buckets of candy to the children along the way. The parade starts at 5:30.

This month’s featured member is someone you all think you know well, but do you? John is 69 years young and was born in Fairbury, IL to Claude and Sally Fulton. John’s father was related to the beloved Bishop Fulton Sheen who helped Claude get his start in farming. Claude sharecrop farmed near Chatsworth until 1952 when he was able to buy his own farm in Herscher, IL. John was about four years old. John attended Herscher Grade School and Herscher High School where he met his sweetheart and now wife Loretta. John worked at Roper Corporation upon graduation until he was drafted in March of 1968. John did basic at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri and then was sent to San Antonio, Texas for medical training to become an Army Medic. He was then sent to Dong Kam (sp???) Vietnam to join the 9th Infantry. John earned his Medal of Valor as a member of the 9th Infantry. On May 13th, 1969 during the Tet Offensive of 1968 in Ben Tre’, Vietnam, John was critically wounded while attached to another Army unit. The unit was on patrol of a trail along a river when a mine exploded injuring other soldiers. John was severely injured by a land mine as he attempted to give aid to the injured soldiers thus earning his Purple Heart. Through a miraculous series of events and the actions of his fellow officers, John was able to survive the incident and return home to Herscher and to marry is wife of 47 years, Loretta. John has maintained a relationship with many of those soldiers yet today. Together Fulton’s have 3 living children, Monica, Brad and Brent. A fourth child Eric died from spinal meningitis at the age of 2. John remembers that Eric was his combine child who, at the age of 2 could spot all brands of combines and would have to test them out whenever he got near one.

John retired from the Army August 20th, 1970 after a long recovery from his injuries. He returned to work at the Roper Corporation and served as a personnel manager working with Corporate heads Bill McGrath, Jamie Gibson and Max Hoover. John says he was treated very well and was respected by Roper Corporate officials. In 1974 John’s father passed leaving the farm to become a full-time job for John. At one time he was farming nearly 1000 acres. John also became involved with Manteno Veteran’s Home where he worked for 13 years. His duties included Chief of Security and Advocate for the Homeless Veterans. John is currently the Commander of Chapter 34 of the Disabled American Veterans and a member of the Kankakee Veterans Assistance Commission as well as member of the Herscher Legion. John is also member of the Kankakee County 100 Club, the Kankakee County Corn Growers as well as CIGC, OTFS, WCTA, Slow Boys and probably a few I missed.

So here might be the part you don’t know. After returning home from Vietnam, John decided to go back to school at Kankakee Community College (KCC). He holds 3 Associate Degrees. He became President of the KCC Alumni Association for many years and established the KCC Veteran’s Club and was president of it too. He was asked to join the KCC Foundation Board because of his dedicated work at KCC with the Alumni Association. In 2009 John was the first recipient of the Alumni Award and immediately it was renamed the “John M. Fulton Distinguished Alumni Award.” The recipients exemplify the following: Outstanding success and distinction in chosen field, Humanitarian service that has proven greatly beneficial to society, Continued interest in/support of education and community colleges, Overcoming life’s obstacles and Completion of a recognized program of instruction at KCC. John considers the Award a “great honor.” Did I mention he is only 69 years young? That’s a lot to do in a short amount of time!

As you may already know, John and his sons collect IH and Case tractors. I also hear that there are a couple of strays that have invaded the shed too. Maybe we can get a tour someday? John told me that he really enjoys being a member of all of the Clubs. He says “it’s all about the people you meet and the friends you make.”
Thank you, John, for who you are. — Craig

October 2017 President’s Message

Summer has really hung on a long time. As I write this I am wondering when will Fall arrive. Many of you are probably busy farming or helping farm. I just want to remind everyone that the combines and other equipment are out. If you are operating on the roadway with farm machinery you must have an SMV sign on all the equipment and if you are operating on the roads after dark you need emergency lighting. And of course, shut the machine off while you are working on it. Think of how much fuel you are going to save by shutting off the engine. Let’s be safe out there boys and girls.

On a different note, the Club ride was very good. I believe 16 tractors and 21 riders. The weather was perfect, the scenery was interesting and the company we had was great. Lunch in Herscher was very good as were Pearson’s Pastries. The trek took us 68 miles I am told through Kankakee, Will, Grundy and Livingston Counties. We may have even got to Ford, I’m not sure. We moved right along all day. Thanks to Jerry Snedecore and Jim Moody for planning a special day. Good job guys!

This month’s feature are long time members of CIGC Jack and Sharla Grosso. Jack grew up in Limestone Twp. Across the street from the new Limestone
Fire building. He attended Hawkins Grade School and later graduated from Herscher High School. He and his brother Joe own their father John’s business, Grosso Construction
located on Rt. 17. Jack says that his father John worked for Triangle Construction building roads, some as far away as Carbondale. He later opened his own business working such notable
projects such as Rt. 113, Rt. 17 and the excavation for Meadowview Shopping Center. John also ran a small repair shop, working on tractors, welding and general repair. John’s dad interestingly took 2 row planters and made them into 4 row planters. Needless to say, John learned to drive a truck at a young age and how to repair equipment. Jack adds that both his
Grandpa Grosso and his grandpa Ohrt farmed with mules here in Limestone Township. Jack says their business today consists of road maintenance, ditching for farmers and maintaining waterways. Jack and Sharla’s son Bob (John III) is part of the Grosso business. Bob also runs a trucking business of his own.

Sharla is also a home town person. Sharla grew up in West Kankakee (yes there really was a West Kankakee) and graduated from Kankakee High School. She worked for such notable companies as Dairy Queen, LeBeau GMC and Commonwealth Edison. Jack and Sharla have 2 sons, Bob and Bill who lives in Indianapolis and pilots for the United Postal Service (UPS). All
told, Grosso have 4 grandchildren. Sharla also told me of and interesting job she had working for the State of Illinois Survey Team. She and her companions would search areas for American Indian relics before any construction was allowed. Sharla work before the bike paths were added to the Kankakee River State Park digging and seining along the River. Along the way they found beads, stones such as ax heads and metal used by the Indians. She says it was quite easy to find. Sharla is also a quilter and a Genealogists.

I asked what was the couple’s most interesting thing to do. Sharla says they like to travel. They have been to Italy which was very interesting, France and Alaska. They have also been to Ireland as Sharla has some Irish heritage. She thought it was beautiful. But, their best trip was to Australia and New Zealand. She said it was interesting driving on the wrong side of the road from Sidney to Melbourne. Both were beaming so I am sure there is a lot more to the story.

Jack collects Allis Chalmers, Ford, Oliver and belongs to the Ford Ferguson Association. He likes to go to the Conventions. Jack says he has enjoyed CIGC, the tractor rides, the plow days and all of the places we have gone. Thanks Jack and Sharla for being members of CIGC. We enjoy your company. — Craig

September 2017 President’s Message

It has been a very busy month since the last newsletter. It seems the months of July and August are prime tractor time. Everything from 4th of July at Bonfield to Pull in the Park at Chebanse in early September goes by so quickly. I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone personally for helping out with the Club trailer. As you may know we had an idea at OTFS to combine OTFS and CIGC trailers to help cut down on the amount of work to do at the Half century Show. CIGC members worked side by side with Dan and Denise and others from OTFS to make that happen. I think it was a big success. Bill Hengl and Carol Churilla and many from CIGC manned the tent all weekend. I missed an opportunity to take pictures of the display and workers but I will tell you it looked very professional. Thank you so much.

Our trailer also went to Pontiac to the Thresherman’s Show. Thanks to Nancy Evans, Ann and others who were able to man the trailer. It looks like they had a good show and sold lots of tickets. Speaking of which. We really need to have members step up and sell some of those tickets. I’ll have them at the meeting.

This month’s feature is Don and Judy Buck. They are long time members of the Green Club, Olde Time Farm Show as well as volunteers for other organizations. They are people I think you should know more about.

Don Buck lived in Grant Park, IL until he was 7. His family then moved to Limestone Twp. to the farm we all know as the Stoney Brook Farm owned by the Small Family. It’s located at the intersection of Rt 113 and 3000N Rd. He and his father farmed many acres in the nearby area. They also raised cattle. Don graduated from Herscher High School. While working for both Sale Barns (a place to bring animals for sale, one near Rt 50 and Larry Power and one Located near Exline) he met his lovely wife Judy who also worked at the Sale Barns serving food with her mother. They married in 1963 and had 3 children, Tina, James (Jim) and Michael. In 1968 the tenant farm was sold and Don went to town to work at Armstrong’s until 1994. After retiring from Armstrong’s in 1994, Don worked for Benoit Farms loading planes (crop dusters) and helping Benoit’s farm their large farm for 18 years.

Judy was born in Seattle, WA. Her family came to the Kankakee area when she was quite young eventually settling in the Herscher area. She also attended Herscher High School but did not know Don until after high school. Judy worked at St. Mary’s as a nurse’s aide for a time before having children. After Tina was born, Judy became a stay at home mom for the most part. Here is the interesting part… while caring for their own children, Judy and Don fostered more than 35 other children. Wow! Judy says the children were brought to her mostly by Catholic Charities and many were infant but some were as old as 16. Wow! Today, Judy still volunteers at St. Mary’s one day per week. She also gives one day per week to Hospice of Kankakee. She reads to patients and provides companionship. Wow! Talk about that helper gene!

I happened to be at the Half Paddy Day at St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee a few years back. They give away a trip to Ireland each year and guess who won. Don and Judy of course. They
talked to me about what a good time they had with 8 of their friends some from Green Club. They also talked about the same group going to Alaska and having such a good time. It does sound like they would like to go back to Ireland. Me too.

So, this is my thought. Did you ever notice that whatever activity we are doing that the Bucks are always there, helping. If we are serving food, Judy is helping. If we are working on the Ride the River, Don is helping. If we are trying to sell from the trailer, guess who’s there? Did you know that your newsletter is picked up by the Bucks in Manteno, stuffed in an envelope and mailed in a timely fashion by guess who? The Bucks. There are many people in our Green Club family who help our organization do whatever we need to do but, I think credit should be given where credit is due. To the Bucks, thank you for all you do for us, it is noticed and we all appreciate what you do.

— Craig

August 2017 President’s Message

I want to take an opportunity to thank Chuck Quick for setting up the Central Illinois Green Club display at the Kankakee County Fair. The display was top notch and represented the Club very well. I would also like to thank those who brought tractors and equipment to the display. Exhibitors were John Evans, Brad and John Fulton, Larry Quick, Ann Roach, Jerry Snedecore and Harley and Carol Buente. Thanks Chuck!

This month’s feature members are John and Diane Smolkovich. The Smolkovich’s are charter members of the Central Illinois Green Club and have lived and farmed in rural Cabery most of
their adult lives. John was born in Essex where is parents Ignace and Anna farmed. In 1942 their farm located on the road between Essex and South Wilmington (4000N Rd today) was bought by Peabody Coal causing the Smolkovich’s to relocate to Herscher, IL with their 11 children. John graduated from Herscher High School and soon joined the Army reserves (thank you for your service). He then worked at Caterpillar for a few years while building his farm and family.

Diane (Hoffman) Smolkovich grew up in the Cullom/ Kempton area and graduated from what is now called Tri Point High School. She is the oldest of 4 and attended St. Mary’s Nursing School in Kankakee. Diane worked at St Mary’s Hospital, Riverside Medical Center, the Fox Center for the Disabled and retired in 2010 with 39 years of service from Miller (thank you for your service too!). The Smolkovich’s have been married for 51 years and have 5 children whom all farm, 10 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

The Smolkovich’s have mostly John Deere antique tractors and farmed with them too. They have an A, B, G, D, N and an H. They also have a 400 Farmall which belonged to a neighbor. I asked which one is the favorite? John says it’s the G. John says that it got used a lot on his farm. It belonged to his dad. The Smolkovich’s say that they enjoyed the trips to Rockville Covered Bridges most but have participated in many other events such as the Party in the Park in South Wilmington, plowing at Rodney Schwark’s and Ride the River. Thanks for being members of the Central Illinois Green Club.
– Craig

July 2017 President’s Message

It has been a very busy summer. There were 14 CIGC members in attendance at the Morris Tractor Ride. It was 3 days of very warm travel in the Morris, Gardner and Marseilles area. It was really a lot of fun to reacquaint ourselves with old friends from the Heritage Tractor Ride especially Mary Beth and Max. The scenery was good, the food was great and the tour of “D” Construction was impressive.

I believe there were 19 members in attendance at the Covered Bridge Ride in Rockville, In. Joe Warters and crew put on another amazing tour of the area. The weather was perfect, the route took us to some new places and some old, and the food was its usual best. At one stop the 4H moms made 22 pies for our lunch. You name the fruit, it was there and so good. If you look, I already have the dates for next year. See you there.

OTFS is already in the books. There were a lot of CIGC tractors and members in attendance. Thanks everyone for helping with the trailer. We sold a few things, and socialized a lot. I will bring it to the next meeting just in case you need a new shirt or hat. OTFS appeared to be successful and the tractor pull was a big hit. We only had a few players for the Tractor Games but Les, Dave and few others had a little fun too.

—– Feature —–

If you know me, then you know I am always interested in the How and the Why. So, traveling on the Morris Tractor Ride it occurred to me that the first Heritage Tractor Adventure had a profound effect on me and many others. The first ride was the brainchild of Max Armstrong and Mary Beth DeGrush. It was something new at least in Illinois and provided the place for a group of people to cement relationships that have now lasted more than 15 years. Out of those relationships John and Nancy Evans became friends with Sue and Joe Warters. John and Nancy on invitation went the Rockville, IN area to a show that Sue and Joe had told them about. Not long after the HTR there began talk about a new club being formed by John and Nancy. By Laws were written and by the end of 2002 Central Illinois Green Club was born.

Upon returning from the HTA, I decided it was about time we got the Evans’ story. Here is what I learned in their own words.

Nancy Evans grew up in Kankakee the eldest of five. Worked at St. Mary’s and Riverside Health Equipment. My retirement dream was to learn how to quilt. After joining the Quiltmakers of Kankakee it became my passion and the heart of my soul. John grew up on the Evans Family Centennial farm his grandfather purchased on September 25, 1900. Farming all his life along with many city jobs he retired from Azzarelli Construction in 1994, continued farming until January 1st 2017. During his Herscher High School Days working for Wheeler Tractor & Equipment in Kankakee he always dreamed of owning the John Deere numbered series built in the 50’s. Married in Las Vegas in 1990 we began our dreams. We have four children, yours (Mary Beth & John Jr.) mine (Jim) and ours(Julie), Eight grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. It took me three years to make my first quilt and twelve years for John to gather those Deere’s. Along John’s journey he’s collected IH, Allis Chalmers, Ferguson, and added a few garden tractors to his collection. We have traveled the United States looking for those JD’s and have made many friends at the Farm Shows across the US and Canada. Over the last 27 years we have rode in many tractor rides and parades. Our most memorable was the first Heritage Tractor Adventure when Max Armstrong asked us to be two of the 20 antique tractors leading the ride and riding the Chicago Land Speedway track with the JD 80 and the JD40 Utility. We have made the greatest friends of all in this Central Illinois Green Club.

I asked what was the best trip or vacation? I got a multiple answer. John said Ireland, Nancy said the summer they traveled from Key West to Seattle then on to San Diego. They talked about Stage Coach Races, they talked about a Tractor trip to Canada where no one spoke English but yet they were able to get their ideas across. They have driven to all 48 lower states and flew to Alaska and Hawaii. John says the “Best trip is the next one.” Nancy says “We really enjoyed it (tractors) and making friends for 15 years this November. We never dreamed it would become as big as it is.”

So, what if Max and Mary Beth never had the first HTA? What if Nancy and John had not met Joe and Sue? What if John and Nancy had not had signed on to create the Central Illinois Green Club? The next time you see John and Nancy ask them for a story, tractors or not. I’ll bet they have some more good ones. Thanks for what you both have done. I have a lot of good friends past and present because of you both.

Craig Long

June 2017 President’s Message

If you have been on almost any tractor ride in the area, you will be familiar with the deep infectious laugh of this month’s feature member. John Fahs is a native Peotone farmer. He grew up just northwest of Peotone on his parent’s farm where he still lives today. He says that when he was a very young man he and his father farmed about 400 acres and that his dad was always interested in new farming techniques. His dad was one of the early guys to shell corn from the field with a pull type Ottawa 500D sheller. He says that his dad went quickly to a John Deere 45 combine with shelling capabilities when offered to him by the Dralle John Deere dealership in Peotone. John also said that his dad was the first in the area to have a corn dryer at home. John’s mom worked at the Manteno State Hospital and was an avid fisherman. John says later in life his parents spent a lot of winters on the Texas Gulf, fishing.

John tells me that in 1957 he went to work at Bennett Industries of Peotone. While they were known for their plastic 5 gallon pails in modern times, they were originally a steel company involved in bridge making. Bennetts made girders up to 130 feet in length that were used to build bridges in IL, KY, TN and MI during the construction of the Eisenhower Interstate System. Bennetts also made expansion joints and “finger” joints to connect the bridges to the roadways. John says Bennetts still makes steel pails in Peotone today. John adds that he worked for Bennetts at their peak of employing over 400 workers. As a maintenance worker John helped develop the processes for welding iron and later injection molding. He helped set up  manufacturing in several of their plants around the US while working for them. As a side note, Bennetts hired young men and women during the summer months and farmers during the winter for extra help. At one point John’s dad worked for him as a machinist.

I first became familiar with John on the 1st Heritage Tractor Adventure. He was driving his Super W6 International. He reminded me that he was parked near John Evan’s 80 John Deere in front of the Rialto Theater in downtown Joliet. We saw him on many rides on the SW6. Today he enjoys the rides on his 1970 International 656 Gold Demonstrator. It’s a hydro shift and has the classic red with gold hood and fenders. It always looks good. John also has a ’54 SMTA.

When I was talking to John I could tell that last tractor he has was very special to him. John tells me that he still owns his dad’s ’45 Farmall M. He tells me that it was ordered during the Great War and that it took about a year to arrive. It was purchased from the IH dealer in Manteno. John thinks the owner was Ed Smith who was a short-wave radio enthusiast. He also believes that Don Baker was a mechanic there and that Don and his brother Fritz later became the owners. He added that the M cost about $1,100.00 and was delivered with 11” tires and magneto. It was their main tractor for many years and was upgraded with power steering, live hydraulics, disk brakes and 1 paint job. I can tell when he talks about the M, it is very special to him.

John belongs to CIGC as well as WCTA, Chapter 10 IH, OTFS and Slow Boys. John, thanks for being a member of the Green Club.

Craig Long