Meet the Chikago International Fraternity. (L-R): Fred "Chico" Lager, Al "AlBob" Dimick, Fred "Gilles" Bussone, Bob "Smokie" Musser, Jim "Marv" Thomas, Albert "Anderjock" Anderson, Billy "GerDill" Dillon, Scott "Baldy" Baldwin and Hans "The Godfather" Puck. Missing from photo, but represented by the bottle of Redman Wine is Dennis "Redman" Canedy.
That's what ten old friends decided after years of retelling the same adventure stories. Why not recreate the magic? "Actually, I think the idea came from my wife," says Fred "Chico" Lager. "She was the one who suggested we needed new material." Chico is the former CEO of Ben & Jerry's and a published author. His college roommates (dubbed, The Men of Chikago) live across the United States and count among them a former UPS executive, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts chair, a landscape design business owner, teacher, geologist, and non-profit manager.
In 1991, they scheduled their first nine-day adventure (Octoberfest in Munich and Switzerland). The next came five years later. And so the pattern was established. The Men of Chikago were now formally known as Chikago International. "The name has no meaning, really," explains Chico. "We had a friend, Sue Storey, who is a local graphic artist, come up with the logo design. We update it with the flags of the countries we're traveling to on each trip."
The men receive a Chikago International shirt and cap prior to each adventure. They order a few extras, too. "We started the tradition of giving out some hats on our trip to Italy. Gino, our tour guide who took us around the Verrazzano winery in Greve, Chianti, was the first worthy recipient," says Chico. They also serve as a helpful bridge, too: "We gave a cap to a guy named Hank when the group was split up in Siena in hopes he could tell the other guys where we were."
That's a travel tip you won't find
in a guidebook.
The group is preparing for an Eastern European vacation next. If you meet up with them in the airport or overseas, have some advice handy. Who knows? Maybe you'll score a great cap, too!