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

May 2017 Presidents Message

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

April 2017 President’s Message

By the time you get your newsletter the first tractor ride of the season may be in the books already. Remember the Slow Boys ride is on April 8th. It’s time to get those tractors out and ready for the season ahead. There are many drives and pulls over the summer including the Half Century of Progress Show and the Morris Tractor Ride (formerly the Heritage Tractor Adventure) which we haven’t seen in a while. Locally there will be Olde Time Farm Show, Will County Thresherman’s Reunion, the Bonfield Fourth of July parade and pull and the Pull in the Park in Chebanse. Don’t forget our own Club’s rides at Herscher and to the Veteran’s Home. I’m sure there are many, many others to attend. If you don’t see them listed in our newsletter, drop me a line so I can add them to the list.

This month’s feature is Nancy and Jerry Snedecor of rural Bonfield, long time members of the CIGC, and been known to participate in many tractor rides. Nancy tells me she grew up in Lincoln, IL as one of 6 children. While retired now she is very active at Church and serves on the Board at Prairie View Lutheran Home in Danforth, IL. Nancy formerly worked at Country Companies in Bloomington, IL, at the Bonfield Grade School and retired from Meece Engineering. She has two stepsons Kevin and Eric Kirschner who live locally.

Jerry grew up in southern Illinois near El Dorado on a chicken farm. They raised 24,000 chickens per year. Jerry spent a couple years in the Army, received his training at Ft. Leonard-Wood and later served in Manheim Germany. Thank you for your service Jerry. He later became an employee of Caterpillar Inc. in Joliet, IL where Jerry retired from. He has two sons Matthew and Jeff. Both Jerry and Nancy lost their spouses and found each other in 1999. They have spent many hours and miles trail riding horses and touring the Country on a Gold Wing motorcycle. After retiring Jerry became a driver who delivers camping trailers. He has delivered to all lower 48 states, Alaska, Canada and New Foundland. Needless to say, Jerry likes to drive.

The Snedecors own several tractors each with a good story. The first is a’48 International “C.” Jerry helped Nancy’s mom out on her farm during a family hardship and in return she sold it to him for 25 cents. The second is a ‘51 International “M” which Nancy’s husband owned that she sold Jerry for $100. He restored it and built and ride-along seat for Nancy. In recent years Jerry and Nancy bought an International 656 from Nancy’s cousin which now serves as their tractor ride transportation.

The Snedecors regularly participate in many different tractor rides including local ones. But when talking about rides they told me about several worth telling about. In 2012 they took their ’51 “M” to the Mount Rushmore Ride in South Dakota. Their ride was two and a half days at Custer’s State Park, Mt. Rushmore and to Deadwood. Jerry also told about treading the needle, a portion of the ride full of switch backs that tested the endurance of a lot of tractors and drivers. Along the way, they saw buffalo up close and personal, burrows who were demanding apples and rode on a steam train. There was also something about the purple house and the “pie lady” that you should ask them about. Might be worth the trip. They also told about the drive at La Crosse, WI that took them 2 days full of hills, curves, beautiful scenery, wineries and private collections of tractors and farm machinery. They also said that they enjoyed the rides at Arthur, IL and the Covered Bridge at Park County, IN.

We enjoy the Snedecor’s friendship and the Green Club. Jerry serves as a Director and is always there to help. When you get a chance, ask them about some of their rides. They are good story tellers.

Craig Long

March 2017 President’s Message

I’m going to try something new. I want to bring to the membership short stories from our own group. I hope you will enjoy this.

My guests for the first story are Duane and Anna Mae Boyd, Charter members of CIGC. Duane tells me that he was born and lived southwest of Herscher on his family’s farm near 15000W & 7000S where their son still lives. He attended Grubwood Grade School and later Herscher High School. Anna Mae says she was born in Gardner and moved to Bonfield in the 7th grade. She attended the Shreffler Grade School near her home. She later attended Reddick High School and because of redistricting moved to the Herscher High School as a junior. HHS is where she met and married Duane. They have been married 65 years!

As adults, the Boyds both worked off of the farm. Duane went to work for ComEd (then called Public Service Company of IL) for 39 years. He held several positions including Groundman, Lineman, Trouble-man and Crew Leader where he retired from. Anna Mae worked at St. Mary’s, Leiser’s and later at Turk’s Furniture Manufacturing in Bradley. When daughter Linda (Messerlie) and son Ronald came along, Anna Mae became a full time mom. The Boyds have 3 grandchildren, Ryan working in San Francisco for Groupon, Keith, living in Buckley and drives for Manitow Trucking and Kevin who recently became the manager of Right on Target, Bourbonnais, a gun shop and range.

The Boyds farmed his father’s farm part-time until about 5 years ago with their son, Ron. Anna Mae says she has helped farm and has driven all of their tractors except the John Deere
4630. She says it was just too big. They own a JD 4020 and a JD 730 that we have seen them plow with. They also own Anna Mae’s father’s International M. Grandson Keith restored it.
Keith has also taken over the full time farming duties for the family. Duane also owns his father’s JD H and a Case DC which still needs a little TLC. Duane also collects a few toy
tractors which he enjoys at home. As president, I am very pleased to have the Boyds as cornerstone members of the Central Illinois Green Club.

Craig Long

February 2017 President’s Message

So far, our winter has been pretty tolerable. Not much snow since December, temperatures that have been respectable and the wind, ok so the wind has been blowing pretty much every day. But, another 30 days will put us near mid- March and close to Spring and Tractor Time! I believe the Slow Boyz have the first ride on April 8th.

I want to take a moment to thank Dustin Wright, Vice President of 1st Farm Credit Services of Bourbonnais, IL 815-933-7831. He was a good guest speaker and had some good information for CIGC.

Our pedal tractor raffle is in. It’s a 7020 John Deere. I have tickets ready for you all to help me sell. Yes, they are $1 each or 6 for $5. I have already sold a few tickets at the Peotone FFA Toy Show. Brad Eich and I and several from the WCTA joined forces there. I’ll have tickets at the meeting. I’m also going to Seneca, IL on March 26th if you want to help sell tickets. I am still looking for an older pedal tractor to restore for our next drawing. What do you have in your basement or garage you could sell to the Club? Or donate would be better.

I have been communicating with Mary Beth DeGrush from the Heritage Tractor Adventure. At this time the planned dates are June 9, 10 and 11 near Morris, IL. Details are forth coming. You may want to save the dates. I’m sure that it will be a good ride in a very Historic and beautiful part of our State. More to come as I get it.

Our February Guest Speaker will be Lisa Regal from Bonfield, IL. She has been a leader in getting the information out to the public with regard to the Grain Belt Railroad. If you think it’s dead, it’s not. Lisa will bring us up to speed. There is also a proposed meeting in Grant Park, IL toward the end of February for those
who are concerned.

By the time we get to the February meeting, it should be fairly known what the feature for the Half Century of Progress will be. The Show is dedicated to memory of Darius Harms the Show organizer so you know that it will be BIG and it is probably red and it will create a spectacle for all to see. Go to Halfcenturyofprogress.com to catch the updates. The Show runs from August 24th to the 27th. PS, there is a new Holiday Express in Rantoul if you still need a room.

Central Illinois Green Club Facebook page is open for business. Check us out. Bring us some tractor news.

I don’t have a Guest Speaker yet for March. Any ideas? What do you want to learn about?

Craig Long

January 2017 President’s Message

Welcome to 2017!  I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year.  Our 2016 was certainly a challenging year for many of us.  Let us remember those we have lost here at CIGC and continue to stay in touch with their families.Welcome to 2017!  I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year.  Our 2016 was certainly a challenging year for many of us.  Let us remember those we have lost here at CIGC and continue to stay in touch with their families.

On a lighter note, I am still trying to get comfortable with my new responsibilities as President of the CIGC.  I am finding out that there is a lot more to it than I thought.  I want to take a moment to thank Stan Dietz, Janeen and especially Nancy Evans.  What a great job they have done.  I appreciate all of their help during our transition.  Remember, Nancy has been a great organizer from Day One!  I think we have not given her enough credit for crossing all of the “t’s” and doting all the “I’s.”  Thanks for all you have done Nancy!

As for what’s ahead.  I can only say that we, the Directors and I, are going to pick up where they left off and run with the ball.  Our intension is to provide the means for which all members of CIGC can thrive.  I believe that we all have seen the impact CIGC has had on our local FFA Chapters, so yes there will be another “Ride the River.”  I believe the activities we do, plowing, tractor rides, and the meals we share all have a positive impact on us, the members of CIGC and the people around us.  So yes, there will be more of that.  In the future I will be handing out jobs to do on several Committees.  If you, the members, are inclined to add your help and expertise, please join the Committee.  We are only limited by our imagination and our willingness to volunteer.  Here is to a Happy and Healthy 2017!

PS. If you have not seen some one at the meetings lately, invite them along! See what we come up with in the future.

Craig Long

Ride The River 2016 Roundup

Ride the River 2016 was a great success.  This year a $9200.00 profit was raised from the Ride the River 2016 and it has been distributed to eight local FFA Chapters for use in their chapter activities.  The eight chapters that were predetermined to receive donations from the proceeds of the ride were Clifton Central, Dwight, Herscher, Iroquois West, Manteno, Peotone, River Valley and Tri Point FFA.  Each received a $1,150.00 check at the November and December CIGC meetings.    

Each of the Chapters were instrumental in making 28Ride the River 2016 a reality.  Their duties varied but an example is helping with rider and tractor registration and passing out the morning coffee and rolls.  Logistical activates such as parking tractors and helping with the set up and taking down facilities for breaks and lunch.  They also were able to enjoy the ride by driving the gators at the front, middle and end of the line of tractors.  While doing this they became the watchman for the railroad tracks at Momence Island. 

They did an amazing job and deserve the recognition!

Overall the history of Ride the River has been an awesome fundraising experience for the Central Illinois Green Club.  The first three Ride the River tractor drives raised $30,000 which is used for a scholarship endowment that benefits Kankakee Community College agriculture students.  Starting in 2014 the proceeds from Ride the River have gone directly to local FFA chapters to help fund their chapter activities.  Nearly $16,000.00 have been donated to these local chapters to date. 

In Memory Of “Bruce’s Corner”

bruce_grafBruce Graf had been the editor of Central Illinois Green Club’s monthly publication called “The Greensheet” for many years.  Printed on green paper by a local printer, it is written, edited, laid out, and mailed to each member every month.  To this day it is coveted by members not only because it reports on the multitude of business covered at monthly meetings, but it also gives updates and reports on shows and events that have happened or are scheduled to happen in the near future.  It also has a calendar of future local events as well as items for sale from your neighbors that you never knew they had.  Sometimes there is even a tasty recipe to try!  Today “The Greensheet” is still mailed out, but only to members who do not receive it in electronic form via email.

Bruce said it best when in May of 2004 he wrote that “The Greensheet” reports not only the news of the Green Club and events to attend, but also news relating to antique farm equipment in general. It would be even better if there were more of the general interest information such as farm auctions, equipment sales, and upcoming events. The editor needs help from the membership in order to expand the coverage for the antique machinery enthusiast. The newsletter is not limited to one page and the editor actually enjoys the challenge of presenting this information in an accurate readable, and compact format!  Bruce created and made “The Greensheet” what it is today.  Everything from the format to the articles and classifieds had to meet his approval and receive his final touches.

Over time Bruce included quotes and even added an occasional comment or snippet of wisdom to “The Greensheet”.  When Bruce retired as editor of “The Greensheet” because of health reasons, many of his quotes continued to be reprinted in a section called “Bruce’s Corner.” These quotes have been enjoyed for a second time by many members over the last few years.  As the final issues of “The Greensheet” were prepared, “Bruce’s Corner” featured yet another poignant statement of that which describes the family of the Central Illinois Green Club.  He said DECEMBER – As I prepare for the years final “Greensheet”, I reminisce on the past two years of the Green Club and my involvement in the activities. I find myself very fortunate to become a part of this wonderful group of friends who have shown me some of a different lifestyle and attitude that my city upbringing was lacking. I enjoy the friendship and remain thankful to the Green Club for the experiences.

It is possible that reading “The Greensheet” is the greatest tribute that one can give to the work that Bruce put into the creation of the monthly publication.  That being said, we are sad to report that long time “Greensheet” editor and former Central Green Club Director Bruce Graf passed away on November 1, 2016. Bruce was a valued member that worked tirelessly to make the Central Illinois Green Club what it is today.  He will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace Our Friend!

Ride the River 2016

Ride the River is back!  Tractor enthusiasts from all over are invited to bring their tractors and participate in the 2016 “Ride the River” Vintage Tractor Ride, scheduled for Saturday, August 27, 2016.

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.

In 2014 our Ride The River event raised $7,000 and helped 7 of our local FFA chapters. With the ongoing state budget crisis in Illinois, it is now more important than ever to support the FFA.  Ride the River 2016 will help ensure continued growth for our local FFA chapters.

If you are interested in riding you can get a Ride The River 2016 Registration Form from our website.  Adobe Acrobat is required to view and fill out the form. Get Adobe Acrobat here.  If you need more information see the Ride The River 2016 page of contact Stan Dietz, Central Illinois Green Club President at 815-674-2306. Be at the Kankakee County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 27, 2016 before we leave so you can take part in Ride The River 2016!!!