Boyz Night Out

Deliver (Oak Ridge Boys album)

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting with four very old but close friends. Our ages range from seventy-two to eighty-three. We enjoy a monthly get together to drink some adult-beverage and to swap tales while sharing a meal. We met on this evening at the Ashford House on 159th Street in Tinley Park, a midway point between our homes.

We sat drinking, and explaining where they were when the tornado ripped through the area. The storm had different effects on each of us. Sherman lives in a heavily wooded area and one of his mature trees blew down and ripped through the back wall of his house. A large branch from that same tree pierced the liner in his garden pond. I laughed, only because this summer he completed repairs to the pond liner caused by a ground-hog that burrowed up from the bottom and chewed his way through the liner to get at Sherman’s collection of bog plants. His further inspection revealed that the tornado ripped the  bark off his Linden trees. Al cut in, “that’s a class-four storm when the bark gets stripped from trees.”

Lou told us his neighbor had a very large Ash tree about fifty feet tall that died from an invasion of the Emerald Ash borer. The tree was dead, and Lou worried that the tree, which leaned toward his house, would someday come crashing through his bedroom. Lou reported the neighbor had the tree removed on the day before the storm hit. He lucked out. Rod, who also lives in a wooded area saw no damage to his property, but picked up many blown down branches. Al reported losing a single butterfly bush planted just three years ago. Al lives on twenty plus acres of trees. Joe told of a roof being blown off at the Mobile Home park just south of town, and the roof of the muffler shop on route thirty raised up several feet then dropped back in place.

Four of us ordered the Thursday night special, a five dollar hamburger the size of a dinner plate, with soup, salad and fries. Sherman had lamb chops.

As we ate we began kibitzing and telling more stories. Joe began by relating a sudden desire to hear the Oak Ridge Boys in concert. They perform in Branson at this time of year, but Joe didn’t have the opportunity nor the cash to go. Just for fun he searched the I-net for the concert schedule and learned that the Boys who were at Branson on Friday would be at the Holiday Star Plaza theater in Merrillville, Indiana on Sunday.  For more fun, he checked the ticket availability; they had eight tickets left in the mezzanine at seventy dollars a piece. “Okay,” he said, “sign me up.” By the time he paid taxes, fees, and seven-fifty to download the tickets to his printer his bill came to $194.00. He did it anyway because it was cheaper than driving five hundred miles to Branson to see them. A twenty-dollar CD would have been even cheaper.

Al chimed in next. “I was talking on the telephone with my sister in Amarillo. One of her good friends wanted to borrow some money, but she didn’t have enough in her bank account. I joked with her that I had invested five dollars in a Mega Million lottery and expected to win that night. At 7:00 a.m. the next morning, I sent my sister an e-mail saying that I had won the Mega-Million lottery and a check would be in the mail to her.

At 7:20 I received an e-mail from the NSA congratulating me for winning the lottery. The e-mail claimed it was from all NSA employees.

At 8:30 a.m. I received another e-mail, this time from the IRS. It said that a normal tax amount would be deducted from my Mega Million winnings, but they knew that I had sold 2 million dollars of houses this year, so I would owe a high percentage of taxes on the gains from the property sales as well as any other income I had.They requested that I pay an extra $100,000 in taxes within ten days, and another $100,000 by January 15.

Later in the morning, I opened an e-mail from the ATF. They said they had verified that I was stocking up huge stores of food including twenty-four frozen turkeys on sale at forty-eight cents a pound at Jewel.

I answered the ATF that I purchased the food for the Frankfort Lions Club annual food distribution to the needy at Thanksgiving. The ATF responded almost immediately wanting me to give them a complete list of names and addresses of the Frankfort Lions and the recipients of the food delivery. Also, I am to include an inventory of weapons possessed by everyone on the list.

Early in the afternoon, The DEA e-mailed me that they knew I recently had $400,000 in my personal bank account, and since I had no job, this was likely drug money. They said their drone had inspected my 21.3 acres of land and found many unusual, as well as some suspicious plants growing inside my house. They said if I was innocent, I would allow them to inspect my property and home. If I didn’t allow an inspection they would get a subpoena to do so.

Later that afternoon I mailed my sister two dollars and told her it was one-half of my lottery winnings.”

A moment of stunned silence overcame the group as they digested what they just heard. Al bust out laughing and confessed that none of the above actually happened but that it could happen today in the big government world we live in.

And that folks, is how Boyz night out goes.

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.

Frankfort Chili Cookoff

Today, I walked into town around noon. That is much later in the day than usual. The sky was a weary gray, the temperature in the thirties, and a wind blowing from the North. I was glad to reach town so I could relieve my morning coffee at the Trolley Barn.  Usually, these walks are solitary. I don’t see anyone, and there are only a few cars on the roads. Today, as I entered town there was activity everywhere. One look at the Breidert Green, and I remembered that Winter on the Green was sponsoring a Chili Cook Off today.

The Breidert Green is named for Burton Breidert, a long time resident now deceased, who owned the B & L lumber yard, which became Fox Lumber, and is now My Sisters and Me, a dress shop.  I never met Burton because he was dead before I moved to town twenty years ago. I learned of him during my research for the Lions Club. He was a prominent Lion and generous community  member. He is credited with the town plan and insistence on keeping the business community central rather than spread around. At least a portion of his fortune came from supplying the building material used to construct the Prestwick sub-division. I lived in Prestwick for fifteen years, there is a minimum of four hundred houses there. Not one of them is small. That’s a whole lot of lumber to sell.

The Green is now a community park which is used for many functions. During January, it is Winter on the Green.

The place was jumping today. The focal point is a structure referred to as the Frankfort Station. It is on the spot that a real railroad station existed many years ago when a real train ran through town on what is now the Old Plank Road Trail. The trail borders the Frankfort Station. The Station is a source of electricity and it was supplying the chili cooks. There were a number of amateur and serious cooks vying for bragging rights to their chili.

The public is invited to attend and eat chili on this day, but I was a half hour too early to try any. Based on the crowd that was already there, it promised to be a succesful event.

I took pictures and went about my walk. I did finally stop at the Trolley Barn to relieve myself. The Trolley Barn was jumping too. The guitar shop was loaded with students learning how to play, the Children’s Museum was crawling with kids, the Deli was busy with a lunch crowd, and the upstairs coffee shop and book store was busy too. The Barn got its name from the building itself. It was used for maintaining diesel-electric railroad cars back in the nineteen-twenties and thirties era. During that time a commuter line ran between East Chicago and Joliet, It played a key role in transporting people from town to town in the far south suburbs. The building remained empty for years until an entrepreneur bought it and converted it into a mall for small businesses.   The Trolley Barn replaces the Grainery Building which was a major tourist attraction. The post and beam building burned to the ground in the nineteen seventies.

Frankfort is a great town established in eighteen fifty. It retains the charm of that era while it grows into a major modern suburb with a thriving population of sixteen thousand people.

The Chamber of Commerce does an outstanding job in keeping the character of the business area thriving while maintaining the character and history fo the town.

Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, and most of us will be watching the interview between our president and Bill O’Reilly while the festivities on the Green take place. The following week  a Turkey Bowl  is the final event in the series.

Here are some photos from the Chili Cook Off.

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