UI 150 Matrases

Mary Ann and John Matras — a couple since college — show their school spirit while taking in an Illini volleyball match at Penn State.

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Among the 1,940 former students and faculty featured on our Gies College of Business-powered ‘UI at 150 & Beyond’ website: 1970 history/economics grad JOHN MATRAS, a prolific automotive writer whose stuff you might have seen in Car and Driver, Consumer Reports, Popular Science or any of the other dozens of publications he’s been published in in the past 39 years.

To this day, going on 50 years later, John Matras still gets fun flashbacks anytime one of two tunes comes on the radio.

Back in the late ’60s, he heard umpteen jukebox playings of The Fireballs’ “Bottle of Wine” and the Beatles’ “Hey, Jude” at his favorite afterhours campus hangout — Treno’s, on the corner of Gregory Drive and Oregon Street.

The word bar “doesn’t really describe Treno’s, which was more of a tavern. No doubt beer sold on Saturday night paid the rent, but Treno’s also served excellent pizza and juicy burgers on black bread,” the Class of 1970 history/economics grad says from his Tannersville, Pa., home.

“Weekday afternoons, it was a quiet place to study, with Tab and free popcorn, especially good if mystery meat was on the dorm cafeteria menu,” he said. “On Saturday nights, a back room was opened where people even played cards, while the main room was a sing-along, with 'Bottle of Wine,' for obvious reasons, and 'Hey, Jude' — well, that na-na-na chorus was easy for inebriated erstwhile scholars to sing.

“As a postscript, dorms didn’t provide an evening meal on Sundays, so a girl would go out with just about any guy. One went with me to Treno’s and married me two-and-a-half years later.”

Know a UI alum you’d like us to track down? We’re taking requests at jdalessio@news-gazette.com.