I wanted to take a moment to thank Chad Miller from Kankakee Farm Bureau. I think the work of the Farm Bureau is so important right now. If you have the ability to go to their website www.ifb.org or in particular if you can receive emails, This Week in IFB and the IFB Legislative Alerts, we as farmers can stay informed about current topics that affect us. Chad emailed this week to say that the Great Lakes Belt Railway did in fact move forward as he predicted. This and several other pieces of legislation need to be watched as they will impact us regionally. I think that the Kankakee County Farm Bureau also needs to be commended for the $76,000 dollars that has been awarded in Scholarships to local students and for keeping the Kids Day on the Farm program going. Remember we are now about 1% of the population as farmers.
We need to stay informed. On a lighter note, this month I would like you to meet new member, Dick Smerz. Dick and his wife Lillian live near Wilton Center, IL (Manhattan). Both Dick and his wife were born and raised in Chicago. They married in 1955 and moved to Evergreen Park. Lillian worked out of the home until their 4 children arrived and then became a home maker. Their children are Mike of Florida, Linda Naughton of Manhattan, Paul of Oswego and Judy Abderhalden of Naperville. The Smerz have 9 grandchildren and 3 greatgrandchildren.
Dick worked as a Union Construction Carpenter for 55 years. He worked on several large construction projects including McCormick Place and the Deep Tunnel Project. Dick retired in 1991 to Wilton Center with his lovely wife Lillian. Dick served in the Navy during the Korean War. Thanks Dick for your service.
I asked Dick what brought him to Wilton Center to retire. I received an answer that I did not expect. I expected that it was a nice quiet place to retire, that is was near St. Patrick’s Catholic Church where he was drawn to Father Sal, that there were a lot of nice people living there like Jim Toepper for whom Dick helped farm for many years. Nope, that is not the answer I got.
Dick told me a very different story. Dick said that during the Great War (WWII) he worked on a farm for 3 summers for the Crop Corps. WHAT? I said. Dick said that the Crop Corps was a program during the war operated by the Farm Bureau in which young men went to the country to help farmers as live-in helpers. This was done to aid the farm efforts while the men were gone to War. I did not know this! Dick worked 3 summers on a farm owned by Earl Kenison in Wilton Center. During those 3 summers, he learned a lot from the Kenison family about farming including how to operate a tractor. That would be the very same ’41 M you see Dick driving today. In fact, he drove that tractor on all 13 Heritage Tractor Adventures. I know this! That’s where I first
met Dick! I also know his daughter Linda drives her ’41 H on the rides too! In fact, you will see them again in June at the Morris Tractor Ride (formerly the Heritage Tractor Adventure).
Dick was also awarded the “Golden Hitch Award” for participating in all 13 HTA’s. Dick says he joined our Club because he likes our “Ride the River” ride. He says it is so scenic. Dick has several other tractors including an F20, an F30 and a 240 utility, oh and Linda’s 41 H.
And so, for a very quiet guy, I found out some very interesting things that I did not know. One more thing. Ask Dick what his age was when he graduated from Joliet Junior College. WHAT!
Dick, I have decided that I need to step up my game. -Craig