Living Columns & Blogs

Belleville Enduro Team celebrating 50 years

Q: I remember when I was a youngster racing motorcycles on the Belleville Enduro Team’s track, an article appeared in the BND Sunday Magazine. It described the racing and had several pictures. This would have been around 1971 to 1972 and most likely in the warmer months. How would I go about being able to research the medium to obtain a copy?

Jeffrey Hamma, of Freeburg

A:If you’re certain of the timeline, you unfortunately are steering your question to the wrong newspaper.

The News-Democrat did not print a Sunday edition until Sept. 12, 1976, so even though I remember writing stories about the Enduro group during my days as a sportswriter from 1974 to 1981, you could not have seen a BND magazine story on it in the early ’70s. Instead, I’m betting you may have read it in a weekend edition of the now-defunct Metro-East Journal, which did publish its own weekly magazine section, as I recall.

I, of course, have no access to the old MEJ records, but I do have a few hopefully helpful suggestions. First, if you’re sure of the years, you can go to the Belleville Public Library and hunt through the microfilm week by week. Since you seem to have narrowed down the time and where you saw it in the paper, paging through four or five months of magazines over a couple of years will be a little time-consuming but shouldn’t be too horrendous a task. You might even split it over three or four visits so your eyes don’t cloud over.

Another suggestion would be to see whether you can find the feature at the Lovejoy Library at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, which is now home to the roughly 400,000 items in the MEJ morgue. Contact them at 650-INFO (4636).

By the way, if you hadn’t realized it, the Belleville Enduro Team (which bills itself as “The Greatest Show on Dirt”) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In fact, it’s getting ready to close out the season with its Toys for Tots Buddy Hare Scrambles Nov. 8 at its track on the Mine Haul Road a quarter-mile east of Centreville Avenue, south of Illinois 15. Gates open at 8 a.m. with events starting at 10:30.

For those unaware of the group, the Belleville Enduro Team was formed, incorporated and chartered by the American Motorcyclist Association in 1965 by about a dozen area racing fans, including Lawrence C. “Bud” Meehan, of Belleville, who died just two weeks ago at age 77. Soon, however, the group’s riders found that land closures were making endurance runs harder to stage, so they began raising money to buy the old strip-mine land on which they still race today.

“We are about 100 members strong today and argue just as much as we did in 1965, but we still manage to get the job done,” the group’s website at www.betdirt.com jokes. Professionally, the group has helped spawn at least eight national-caliber riders, including former national No. 1 Bubba Schobert. But it’s not all dirt, speed and noise. Some of the proceeds from the group’s events are given to local charities.

As a final suggestion, you might call Ed Hoeffken at 779-1452 and see if anyone in the group might have the story you remember in his or her files. You’re also welcome to keep up with it at Facebook.com/BellevilleEnduroTeam.

Q: How can I recycle old telephone directories?

G.P., of Belleville

A: As you’ve likely discovered, many places are unwilling to accept phone books because their machines can’t handle the glue and backing used to put them together. That’s why those paper recycling bins all over the area specifically say no telephone directories. It used to be that there would be recycling events whenever new directories were published, with large truck trailers parked at strategic locations, but I haven’t even seen them for a few years. As a result, I have a dozen or more phone books piling up in my garage since I get three or four every year that I never use.

So imagine my surprise when I went hunting on the Internet and found that the city of Belleville’s recycling program accepts them. Always the skeptic, I called the city’s sanitation department to verify and, sure enough, you can simply put them out on the curb with your cans, bottles and newspapers. Others also can try Belleville Recycling at 501 Hecker St. (donation only), the Fairview Heights center at 650 S. Ruby Lane, the Freeburg Township site at 203 S. Richland St. in Freeburg and the Madison County site at 2 Pine Lake Road in Collinsville.

To get a lead on where you can recycle most anything, try search.earth911.com. Now, if I could just get rid of several dozen paperboard egg cartons collecting cobwebs ...

Today’s trivia

What country had bands of assassins that were actually known as Thugs, thus giving rise to the common modern synonym for criminals?

Answer to Sunday’s trivia: I don’t know whether I should admit it, but I’ve always been a closet Bangles fan. Yes, I know, many of their songs are just short, throwaway pop ditties, but I’m a sucker for their vocal harmonies and driving tempos, especially on their early albums. However, I did not realize until the other day that the group’s first big hit — “Manic Monday” — was written by none other than Prince Roger Nelson, better known simply as Prince (and The Artist Formerly Known As Prince).

It turns out that a 26-year-old Prince wrote the song in 1984 and recorded it as a duet for the band Apollonia 6’s self-titled album, but for whatever reason, he later pulled the piece. Two years later, he offered it to the Bangles under the pseudonym “Christopher,” a character he played in the 1986 movie musical, “Under the Cherry Moon” (which received a Golden Raspberry as the year’s worst film). The lament about a woman wishing it were still Sunday struck a chord and soared into the top five on record charts around the world.

Rumors were rife that after Prince had listened to “All Over the Place,” the Bangles’ 1984 debut album, he gave the group the song in hopes of bedding rhythm guitarist Susanna Hoffs. But later in an interview with MTV UK, drummer Debbie Peterson remembered it a little differently.

“It was a Banglification of a Prince arrangement. He had a demo, that was very specifically him. We just did the song and the album (“Different Light”), and then sat back and thought about it.”

Later that year, the Bangles would score their first No. 1 hit with “Walk Like an Egyptian,” a feat they would match only once more with “Eternal Flame” in 1989, the same year in which the band would break up for a decade.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer

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