Tony Smith and Carleton Munday

Tony Smith and Carleton Munday

You've heard of those popular "destination" weddings, staged in places like Nassau, or Aruba, or on a cruise line, or at the corner of Emerson Street and Towanda Avenue in Bloomington, Ill.

That last one?

”We have several weddings this summer that are considering Bloomington a world destination — go figure!" says Toni Tucker, happily.

Toni is director of the Ewing Cultural Center.

A few weekends ago was a Quaker wedding. The couple was not from B-N.

Next day was a traditional Chinese wedding in the gardens. The couple wanted a "destination" wedding, found Ewing online and flew everyone here.

Memorial Day weekend, it was Hindu. Specially built was a traditional mandap (a covered structure with pillars, draped in fabric) on the Ewing back lawn, with royal chairs for the bride and groom, and the parents on a pedestal.

Still ahead this summer, says Toni: couples from both St. Louis and Chicago, neither with any ties to B-N, leaving their own areas to instead join us here in marital paradise.

Don't laugh … especially if you are a hotel, a vendor ... or a mandap builder.

It's the Jim('s) for him: Illinois governor from 1991-99 and king of fiscal discipline before the financial bottom sprung a big leak later, Jim Edgar was in Bloomington the other day.

Besides drawing “hey-I-know-him!” looks, he also was getting some smiles.

“Where does Jim Edgar eat for lunch when in Bloomington?” asks Michel Unruh, one of those who spotted the ex-guv.

Jim's Steakhouse, of course.

Then there's Jake ... : It all began almost five years ago now, when an apartment-mate of Bloomington's Jake Stone mentioned one day it might be fun for Stone to answer a casting call for a State Farm commercial. The rest is modern-American TV history. And "Jake at State Farm" is still making it.

If you've yet to see it, "Jake" is back, in a new State Farm ad, still in his khakis — same video in fact, but this time talking on the phone at 3 a.m. with the "Coneheads" (Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin) from the old "SNL" days.

A former part-time State Farm employee working in its call center like the guy in the ad, Stone left in 2011 — just as the commercial was getting popular — to work for the town of Normal and continue as a bartender at Pub II in uptown. Jake's also a talented artist.

Last October, he also thought his term as inadvertent-humongous-TV-star was at its end, as "Jake at State Farm's" national run was contractually complete. But two weeks ago, the work of the production company, DDB of Chicago, a Jake "sequel" began. "I first saw it online," says Jake. "Hilarious! I love the Coneheads." 

“While the actual Jake no longer works for State Farm,” says Holly Anderson, a State Farm spokeswoman, “the spirit of Jake is alive and well.”

For the record, the "Coneheads" appeared on "SNL" in the late 1970s.

Jake Stone, who is 29, was not in khakis then.

Or even diapers.

Birthday surprise: Carleton Munday is 93, one of a dwindling number of World War II veterans, who these days cares for his wife, Virginia. She battles Alzheimer’s.

Other evening, Carleton enjoyed a birthday surprise, too.

The doorbell rang and it was Tony Smith, familiar face at Bloomington’s Lucca Grill, loaded down with a large ham and pineapple pizza and two side salads.

For the record, one of B-N's most legendary restaurants, Lucca does not deliver.

But when Munday’s granddaughter, Denise, called from Texas, offered the Munday story and asked if Lucca could personally deliver a 93rd birthday surprise, Tony had only one answer.

“Mr. Munday is a great guy,” says Tony. "I'd do that anytime for a vet like him."

That’s a “selfie” Tony snapped with Carleton.

As can be the case, in offering the gift, there also was a present for Tony.

“After a long day, it was a much needed encounter for me,” he smiles.

Be the first to know - Sign up for News Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Load comments