Top of the Morning, Aug. 2, 2014

Top of the Morning, Aug. 2, 2014

Rantoul grad Jim Barnett has the perfect accessory for this weekend's Class of 1954 reunion: a 1954 Chevy pickup.

I'm guessing he has gunned it down Wabash Avenue a few times by now.

"We did a lot of drag races," Barnett said when I asked him what his classmates did for mischievous fun back in the day. "We'd have parties in Paxton. And we'd take a pickup truck to the Indy 500 with scaffolding in the back. We'd go the night before and park it in the infield. More people would end up watching us than the race."

The stories get bigger and better each year the Class of '54 reunites. This weekend's 60th kicked off with a hootenanny at Vern and Patsy Franzen's house Friday night and wraps up tonight at the Linden in Rantoul. Curfew is not a problem for the 50 or so former Eagles in attendance.

"We won't be out too late," said Barnett, 79. "A few of us are getting up in age."

Rantoul Hall of Famer Gery Maury, 78, helped organize No. 60. He said the Class of '54 is known for its behavior as much as its basketball.

"We just didn't have any trouble," he said. "We'd come to school in the morning, go to practice after that and then go home."

Well, there was that time he got pulled aside in study hall. For chewing gum.

Maybe he'll save that tale for the 70th reunion. As loyal as this group is, it should be a doozy.

"We had good times in high school," Barnett said. "We still know how to have fun."

***

The Illini 4000 — a nonprofit made up of 20 UI students and alumni — is scheduled to wrap up its cross-country bike ride Sunday in San Francisco. The journey started May 24 in New York.

"We can't wait to cross the Golden Gate Bridge," rider Isalia Ramirez said.

The trip home will not be on two wheels.

"Biking back is definitely not on people's minds," Ramirez said. "Some people are taking planes, trains or driving back. It'll be sad to see the ground we covered in 72 days gone in a few hours."

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