In 1956, Adlai Stevenson II of Bloomington was running for president; gas cost 23 cents a gallon; the average income in America was $4,454; and Merle and JoAnn Coile of Saybrook were on the way to a honeymoon to Eureka Springs, Ark., in Merle's 1954 Ford, a vehicle that cost him an arm and a leg, or at least $1,250 with trade.
That's when, on the drive south on fabled Route 66, a red light on the car's dash flashed on and, just east of St. Louis, in Hamel, Ill., they had to have the engine rejiggered, the generator removed and new brushes installed.
That cost Merle $5.92. That's parts AND labor, of course.
A year later, the Coiles brought home their first newborn, a daughter, in that same '54 Ford.
Two years later, they did it again with a son, and five years later, another son.
A mechanical mind who opened his own shop, Coile's Diesel Inc. in Saybrook, Merle drove that Ford until 1965.
Then it sat, for nearly 50 years.
Today, Merle is 81 and JoAnn nearly 80 and the babies who rode home in that '54 Ford are Rhonda, now 58, of Manito, and Randy, 56, and Jeff, 52, who run the shop Merle started. "They (his folks) are great Christian people," says Jeff.
In retirement, Merle also has had time to go back into the garage.
Yes, the '54 Ford is up and running again.
On their 50th wedding anniversary, the car wasn't quite ready for a ride and a year later, when they tried, the starter went out and Merle and JoAnn had to push it while in Springfield.
That '54 Ford has memories, some not so good.
But this week, the Coiles will celebrate a 60th year of wedded bliss — and occasional motorized breakdowns — by indulging in a pursuit that would have to be considered sentimental and romantic, if not rather prophetic.
They're going on another honeymoon trip.
To Eureka Springs, Ark.
In the '54 Ford. Again.
Merle says he's checked the generator and starter and it all looks good because, you know, they don't want to have to pull over in a place like Hamel or Springfield again.
Besides, it's a lot more than $5.92 to fully repair a car now.
And JoAnn? She probably doesn't really want to get out and push anymore either.
Fowl ball!: So Advocate BroMenn has a mother goose that, in a new definition of appropriate, laid her eggs next to the hospital's maternity wing and there also was a frenzy on social media when a store manager tried to shoo away another mom goose and nullify the eggs. That story got so big, it finally made Page One.
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But wait. There’s more.
At Tony Roma's restaurant in Bloomington, the patio is closed momentarily because "Romana," a duck, has hatched ducklings there.
And, out in front of the Fresh Market grocery in Normal, yet another goose has laid eggs.
“Fresh Market … indeed!” laughs Dawn Harp of Hudson who snapped a photo of that mom goose next to her truly fresh eggs (Dawn’s photo is on today’s Flick blog).
Over the past two weeks, Fresh Market folk say passers-by have even been helping that mother goose, putting out water, a head of cabbage, even some much-needed carbs from nearby Panera Bread.
Not far away, near Dick’s Sporting Goods, a duck recently laid eggs with eight ducklings emerging last week.
If only the “i” in Dick’s was a “u” instead.
Funeral directors … no need!: They graduated 61 years ago, the very last class at Kenney High School, a class of 13 students before it consolidated with big city Clinton to its northeast, and those 13 became part of history.
But the class obviously isn't very fond of becoming history.
All of those students from 1955 are nearing 80 ... and they were honored again at last weekend's annual Kenney alumni banquet at Kenney Community Center.
And we do mean ALL.
Rather incredibly, the entire Class of 1955 is still alive.
While fanning out to places like California, Nevada and Florida (three stayed in Kenney, population 326), they have at least two members who have battled cancer, one had a fall recently, and three have lost spouses.
But in all of America, it is surely only Kenney where 61 years later an entire high school class (a photo from last weekend's reunion is on the Flick blog) has yet to lose even one to a last breath.
"It's the Eveready Rabbit of all classes," chuckles Janice Laramee, wife of Bob, a 79-year-old retired farmer, Caterpillar employee and Class of '55 member. "They just keep going ... and going ..."
Perhaps as fascinating: no divorces either.
A subject at the banquet the other night was, in fact, longevity and their own "secret" to a good, long life.
"It's probably just good clean living," theorized Betty Jensen, now of Bloomington. “We were all pretty good kids, from good families, living in much simpler times. Very few of us had our own vehicle.”
And they live forever, apparently.
Talk about the Lucky 13.
Flick is at firstname.lastname@example.org