This is the story of the Iliana Club of Traditional Jazz
There was a roadhouse located on Route 30 just on the Illinois side of the state line near the little town of Dyer, Indiana. The roadhouse was built in the late 1940s and was originally named Long's Village Pump. In the mid-1960s the roadhouse was purchased and renamed Dick Kelly's. After Dick Kelly suffered a fatal automobile accident, his widow hired a manager, Harry Glover, and they renamed the roadhouse the Inn Place.
Glover wanted to present first-class entertainment to attract jazz fans to the restaurant, and he hired clarinetist Jerry Fuller, giving him somewhat of a free hand to select musicians to accompany him. Fuller had a solid background of playing with many fine bands, the two most notable being the Jack Teagarden band of the mid-1950s and the Dukes of Dixieland.
In early 1970 the Inn Place began to feature jazz music four or five nights each week with varied size groups ranging from a trio up to an eight-piece band. A regular clientele of jazz-interested persons was soon built up, and the Inn Place became the Mecca of jazz in the Chicagoland South suburbs.
Three regulars of the Inn Place, Glenn Kay of Knox, Indiana, Eddy Banjura of Munster, Indiana, and Sam Cardaras of Riverdale, Illinois, had often kicked the idea around of forming a jazz club while listening to the Jerry Fuller band. Fuller had played a few concerts in previous years for the Indianapolis Jazz Club, and in mid-1973 that club promoted two busloads of their members to come up to the Inn Place to hear the Fuller band.
After seeing the enthusiasm of the Indianapolis Jazz Club, Cardaras, Kay and Banjura were certain that this area of Illinois and Indiana should have a jazz club. With the strong encouragement of Jerry Fuller and Harry Glover, a meeting of jazz fans was called for August 20, 1973, in the Key Club Room of the Inn Place.
The meeting was attended by 26 interested jazz fans, and temporary officers and directors were selected. Officers were Glenn Kay -- President, Sam Cardaras -- Vice President, and Eddy Banjura -- Secretary, Treasurer. Our first Directors were Chris Kuris, Don Smith, Harry Glover, Gloria Banjura, Bill Mager and Helmuth Erdmann. The other 17 persons present at that historic first meeting where Hans Bonhart, Lu Cardaras, Jerry and Joan Fuller, Conchetta and Theresa Geis, Alice Kay, John Koekkoek, Joanne Kuris, Blanche Mager, Harry and Doris Rausch, Leo Ronzani, Hasso Shiele, Siegfried and Ursula Seifert and Mary Lou Smith.
Other persons signed up as members that night were Lucille Bonhart, Ann Cheek, Ellen Erdmann, Annette Glover and Ute Shiele. Out of those 31 original members, 10 are deceased, 10 are still active members, and the remaining 11 have dropped out of the club. We included the first 200 who joined the club as Charter Members.
A business meeting was called for November 11, 1973, our new bylaws were presented, and all the temporary officers and directors were officially elected for the balance of 1973 and all of 1974. We are an Indiana Not-For-Profit chartered organization. We are also listed with the IRS as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. Donations to the club are tax deductible.