Celebrating the original Ford Thunderbird   

      from 1955, 1956, and 1957

Recent Events                         

We are enduring strange times right now. As you know , things are changing and evolving almost hourly. All events from April on are put on hold until we are given an "all clear" or have been canceled.

- KS


The Annual Pizza Party/Election of Directors Meeting was held on March 12th at the Little Villa Restaurante & Pizzaria in DesPlaines.  Twenty-seven members came out to enjoy some great pizza and conversation. Due to the warnings from the CDC due to the Coronavirus members did not hug or shake hands but elbow butted or just said “hi”.   After everyone ate, Ken held a brief meeting to approve the 2020 Budget and to discuss the issues ahead with the Coronavirus. For now, the calendar of events for the next couple of months most likely will be cancelled. The Tech Session currently is tentative, but the Spring Tour has been cancelled. The tour of the Old Joliet Prison has been planned but is on hold. Before the meeting ended Ken said that there were 3 director positions available.

He mentioned that Len Vinyard, Lloyd Schellin and Mike Cielenski were willing to stay on in their positions.  Ken opened the floor to any nominations, there was a motion to keep Len, Lloyd & Mike on as Board of Directors, it was seconded and all approved. After the vote, the meeting then adjourned.











Those in attendance were: Dan Anderson, Mike & Laura Cielenski, Joe & Barb Esdale, Gordon Gluff, Art Hahl, Gail Hascek, Pete Hauser, Len & Mary Keil, Larry & Karen Kelly, Dean & Beth Molburg, Dan Mrozek, Bob & Barb Sroka, Lloyd & Joan Schellin, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Len & Irene Vinyard, Liz Werth, Tom Wolfe and Madeline Zambon.       

– Submitted by Laura Cielenski


It is with great sadness that we report the death of longtime CTCC member Joe Kraatz.

Joe was the original owner of his colonial white 1957 E-Model Thunderbird.

Joe special ordered the car and after a two month wait, he took delivery in April 1957.  

He loved working on his E-bird and going to car shows.     


His obit is below:

VALPARAISO, IN - Joseph Kraatz, Jr., 88, of Valparaiso passed away Friday, January 24, 2020 at home with his family. He was born August 11, 1931 in Medina, NY to A. Joseph Sr. and Esther (Gladow) Kraatz. Joe graduated from Valparaiso University in 1953 and served honorably with the U.S. Army. He later operated Roy's Mobilgas at 2 & 30 in Valparaiso. He retired from Aid Association for Lutherans, serving as a District Representative for 24 years. After retirement, he enjoyed watching the Green Bay Packers and VU Basketball. As an avid Ford enthusiast, he loved working for Currie Ford of Valpo, participating in car shows and being an active member of Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland and Michiana Mustang Club. He loved his family and the Lord and was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church.  On April 6, 1963, he married Sandra Meyer who survives along with their daughters: Kari Correll (Dan Lentino) of Schaumburg, IL and Kami (Chad) Woody of Valparaiso; his brother, James (Joy) Kraatz of Michigan; and his two beloved granddogs, Quinn and Whitney.


This year’s Dudes and Divas Winter Dinner was held on January 24th at the Palm Court Restaurant. Though the weather was foggy with a mix of snow and rain the evening still brought out twenty-seven members.  Everyone enjoyed each other’s company and of course a delicious meal.  As always, a great gathering to help break the winter blues. A big thank you to Ken and Kathy Smizinski for planning the evening.









Those in attendance were: Dan & Karen Anderson, Bill & Jane Balogh, Peter & Katie Hauser, Larry & Karen Kelly, Len & Mary KeIl, Pete & Marylu Kramer, Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko, Dean & Beth Molburg, Dan Mrozek, Bob & Barb Sroka, Lloyd & Joan Schellin, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Len Vinyard, Liz Werth and Jim & Jane Wilson.       

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