Murder, Kidnapping, Intrigue

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Finally, I finished another book that is not political. I found this book in the Frankfort library using the same system I used in Arizona this winter; walk in, scan the new releases, and take the first book that catches my eye. This time it was the cover art for a book titled The Yellow Packard. I immediately knew it involved old cars, and probably was about the period in history that matched the car.

The Packard car remains in my memory as one of the classier cars on the road. The styling characteristic that turned me on was the grill. Packard spewed elegance, opulence, speed and class.  One of the most popular customers for the Packard were funeral homes, they used them for hearses, flower cars, and limo’s.  I guess having your last ride in a Packard meant one had finally made it to the big time.

Once I began reading, the book held my interest until I completed it two days later.

The author, Ace Collins is someone I never heard of, but upon reading his bio it surprised me to learn he has sixty published novels. Collins is a master of character development, and his writing allows the reader to see what is happening throughout. He does an amazing job with details about the depression era.

I won’t get into details about the plot, because it is a mystery and talking about the plot may spoil the mystery. The plot has many sub-plots expertly woven into the main story. The central theme of the story details how people’s lives changed after the yellow Packard enters their lives. Some of the changes are very positive, and others not so.  Even though the Packard is an inanimate object, in this story the car has a life and becomes as central a character as the people who come to own it.

It was delightful not to read any foul language, nor be titillated by sexual content. Keeping true to form to the depression era the language and morals of the country were much different from what they are today. In fact, I enjoyed the story more because it was clean.

I thought Collins wrapped up the story in a comical way when he did a Perry Mason like ending with all the people who owned the Yellow Packard assembled in one place for a recap of the clues that allowed the FBI to solve the kidnapping, and to unveil of a surprise mystery.

This book is a must read for mystery fans, old car nuts like me, and those who want to learn what it was like during the First Great Depression, or for anyone who enjoys a genuine good story.

Who Needs Uncle?

Twenty years ago Frankfort Illinois was still a small town out in the country. Today, Frankfort is still a relatively small town (Pop ~16.000) but the big city has expanded to reach it from three sides. The south suburbs of Chicago touch us on the north and east, the suburbs of Joliet reach us on the west, but the south end of town is still wide open farm land with horse farms and gentrified farmers who commute to the city. Even though the population has exploded by five times in the past twenty years the small town feel remains.

Frankfort has many traditions and institutions. One institution is Camp Manitoqua established in 1955, but whose roots go back to Chief Manitoqua of the Potawatomi Indians. Manitoqua is a Reformed Church summer camp that ministers to the surrounding area. A newer institution which has become a fixture within Camp Manitoqua is a group called Camp Quality. Camp Quality began in Australia in 1983 and expanded to the USA in 1986 as a respite for kids with cancer. The camp specializes in giving kids with cancer a new life. They do an amazing  job of making these kids who are on chemo, radiation, and in many cases their last days forget their disease. Volunteers staff Camp Quality, and the need grows every year.

The Frankfort Car Club began in 1976. Car Club members  love cars: old, new, fast, and loud. The car club has many charitable functions like awarding scholarships to Lincoln Way High School students headed into the automotive field, they collect food for the township food pantry, or by matching each dollar collected for the pantry on Cruise nights. As an example, last Thursday evening they anted 500 dollars to match the amount donated that evening from the visitors to Cruise Night.

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The car club began a new tradition a few years ago in cahoots with Camp Quality. They give the kids a ride in a hot rod.

Here is a quote from the car club press release for their event with Camp Quality:

 ” The Frankfort Car Club put quite a few smiles on the faces of kids with cancer who are attending what is called CAMP Quality. The group takes over Camp Manitoqua facilities for a week and provides many and varied activities. Our car club gathers up 60-80 cars and parades to the camp where we load up with the kids who pick out their ride. Off we go with Frankfort Police Department escort service over about a 10 mile run south of town. Upon return we enjoy some ice cream donated by Culver’s of Tinley Park. It is our privilege to give these kids a night to remember and wish them well on their return to good health.”

A friend from the car club sent these photos of the event.

First the Club gathers in downtown Frankfort:

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Then they parade to Camp Manitoqua:

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They regroup at the camp:

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The kids pick out a ride

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Everyone blows off steam with an escorted ten mile ride on the roads south of town.

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Finally, they all come back to Camp Manitoqua for. . .

ICE CREAM!!!!!

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Thank you Frankfort Car Club for providing smiles to a courageous bunch of kids.

Afraid Of Our Own Shadow

I thought the reason for establishing the Department of Homeland Security was to get all the Federal Agencies to talk to each other so terrorists wouldn’t slip through the cracks. Watch this hilarious, stupid, and scary video about what we get for our tax dollars.

Obama Eve

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This morning I awoke late and feeling good. “Good morning birthday boy,” said Peg, “happy birthday.”

“It is not my birthday,” I replied.

“Well what is it then?”

“It is Obama Eve.”

“Are you crazy?”

“No, I’m just thinking that we call the day before Christ’s birthday Christmas Eve, shouldn’t the day before our first black president’s birthday be named the same? He is, after all, transforming the world as we know it.”

I went on to explain that we are all joyful to celebrate Christ’s birthday. So much so, that we can’t bear the anticipation and begin our celebration the day before. Isn’t it the same before the newly proclaimed messiah of the Western World’s birthday? Not really, but it is the opposite of Christ’s birthday. Christmas is a joyful time with an overwhejlming spirit of giving and good cheer. Regardless of how tough our lives are we forget our pain at Christmas and spread what little we have to our loved ones and forget any animosities between us in the spirit of peace and joy. On Obama Eve people who relish taking engulf us. They love taking, not giving. Instead of love and peace there is racial divide. Instead of being happy about the life we enjoy living with Christ, we see sadness everywhere. It is as if people are at a dead-end. There is no joy in losing liberty, a job, replacing the job with two or three part-time ones. There is sadness in seeing our government deny God, and then attack our right to worship. There is no happiness or joy watching Islam proclaim itself as a religion, yet profess to kill us in the name of God.

Yes, Obama Eve is the complete opposite of Christmas Eve, and the idea of turning seventy-five on Obama Eve does not make me happy.

However, I am thankful for all those years of great health, and the blessings of a wonderful family to cheer me. I am grateful for having the privilege of spending forty-two years with an amazing friend, lover, and wife. I am grateful for the gift of a second beautiful wife for seven plus years, and the family she gave me.

There are so many things I am happy about that even the dark cloud of Obama Eve can not depress me.

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