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June 21, 2017- On July 4 we will be in Callander Ontario Canada with the Silver Streak. We will at the Callander Bay Heritage Museum & Alex Dufresne Gallery, where we will be displaying the Silver Streak, making a presentation and conducting a book signing. The Gypsy Coeds were here in 1937, including Darlene Dorgan, Margie Dorgan, my Aunt Eleanor Butte, Ruby McDonald, Helen Hickey, and Clare Breen.

June 20, 2017- On July 2 we will be in Oshawa, Ontario at the Canadian Automotive Museum, displaying the Silver Streak, making a presentation and having a book signing! Check out the Museum’s website below.

June 6, 2017-Silver Streak to be on Display at historic Bishop Hill, June 10, 2017.

The Silver Streak will be on display at historic Bishop Hill, June 10 at 1:30-2:30 in front of the Dairy Building.  A presentation, “Darlene’s Silver Streak and the Bradford Model T Girls” will follow in the Dairy Building from 2:30-3:30, with a book signing to follow.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017-For Immediate Release:Historic Model T Ford to Retrace Portions of 1930’s Trips to Ontario and Quebec by Group of Adventurous Illinois Coeds.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                  

May 21, 2017


Historic Model T Ford to Retrace Portions of 1930’s Trips to Ontario and Quebec by Group of Adventurous Illinois Coeds.

“Girls In Ten Buck Flivver Mistaken For Gun Girls!” the July 13, 1939 Toronto Daily Star story headline proclaimed. “Brantford Service Station Attendant Scoops Up Cash And Runs As Six Drive Up-All From Peoria, ILL-Heading For Quebec, Worlds Fair” the story continued. The Ten Buck Flivver was a 1926 Ford Model T Touring car, and the six single girls actually hailed from the small farming community of Bradford, Illinois. In the mid 1930’s and early 40’s, this group of adventurous and independent young ladies would pack themselves and a few belongings into Darlene Dorgan’s car (dubbed the Silver Streak) and set off during summers in search of adventure. They would call themselves the “Gypsy Coeds”. Two of those trips involved extensive travel in Canada: 1937 to Callander to see the Dionne Quintuplets and then 1939, a picturesque route to the New York Worlds Fair along the north shore of the Great Lakes, then following the Saint Lawrence River to Quebec City before heading south. Now, 78 years later, the Silver Streak will again visit Brantford and five other communities, retracing portions of those two trips. The car has never been restored.

Darlene and various combinations of 19 friends made nine consecutive trips, logging over 71,500 miles and seemingly finding adventure at every turn. They traveled thru 44 of the US states and Mexico in addition to their incursions into Canada. Along the way they would watch the Dionne quintuplets play outside through a one-way screen and meet the reclusive Dr. Dafoe. They attended the 1939 New York Worlds Fair and the 1940 San Francisco Golden Gate Exhibition, met movie stars, moguls, dignitaries and corporate leaders by day while sleeping in parks, schoolyards, jail cells (including Dorval, Quebec) and by the side of the road by night. They would meet Henry Ford himself twice, dine in his private dining room and form a special bond with the automotive pioneer, carrying on correspondence with him over a five-year period.

John Butte, the son of one of these adventurous women and the nephew of another had heard stories about these trips in his childhood. Upon the death of his mother in 2011, he was determined to find the car. He tracked it to Portland, Oregon where Darlene’s descendants had taken it after decades of storage at the Dorgan’s Bradford Illinois home. He and his wife Carmen were able to purchase the Silver Streak and bring it back to the Bradford Illinois area in early 2012. Remarkably, the exterior had never been restored…and equally remarkably it still ran. Butte’s desire to preserve the car quickly evolved into preserving its history as well. Three years of research and writing resulted in the publishing of his book, Darlene’s Silver Streak and The Bradford Model T Girls, a lively non-fictional account of the trips the girls took and his personal journey as he searched for and found the old tin lizzie. Three diaries, multiple newspaper stories, letters and personal interviews with three of the Gypsy Coeds who were still living helped add authenticity to the story.

After loaning the Silver Streak to museums for exhibits during most of 2016, John and his wife decided it was time to take the Silver Streak on the road and revisit some of the locations where the girls had traveled. Ontario and Quebec were high on the list because John’s mom and aunt participated in those trips, and the story and picture carried in the Toronto Daily Star had elevated the girls and their car to celebrity status! An invite by a fellow Model T enthusiast, to bring the car to Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade Quebec for the community’s 350th celebration (July 8-9) started the ball rolling. From diary entries John began to contact communities where the girls had recorded significant memories. By working with historical societies and museums he was able to quickly put together an itinerary of stops that includes displaying the Silver Streak, making a presentation and conducting a book signing at Brantford, Ontario (June 30 & July 1) Canada Day Celebration, at the Steve Brown Sports Complex, Oshawa, Ontario (July 2) at the Canadian Automotive Museum, Callander, Ontario (July 4) at the Callander Bay Heritage Museum & Alex Dufresne Gallery, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade Quebec (July 8) sponsored by the Model T Ford Club of Quebec, Dorval, Quebec (July 12), at the Dorval Museum of Local History, and Brockville, Ontario (July 13) at the Brockville Museum. It will be the first visit to these communities for John and Carmen, the second for the 91 year old Silver Streak! You can find more information at


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Four Photos attached.

For more information please email or call 309-243-1074

June 10, Upcoming Event at Historic Bishop Hill

The Silver Streak will be on display at the Dairy Barn in Historic Bishop Hill on Saturday June 10.


Press Release

For Immediate Release

 Bishop Hill, IL

 Gypsy Coeds Program in Bishop Hill

 On Saturday June 10th, author John Butte will present a program about his book, Darlene’s Silver Streak and the Bradford Model T Girls, with a book signing later. The book is about the travels of the Gypsy Coeds in their Model T. The Silver Streak Model T automobile used by the Gypsies will be on display at the Dairy Building, located at 410 North Erickson, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., with the program and book signing to follow. The program is free and open to the public. It is hosted by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association. For more details, call 309 927-3899 or email

The Gypsy Coeds made eight major trips between 1936 and 1942. Led by Darlene Dorgan, whose family ran the Dorgan Café in Bradford for nearly 50 years, a rotating group of 20 young Bradford-area women traveled to 44 states, Mexico, and Canada in a 1926 Ford Model T, nicknamed the Silver Streak. The Gypsy Coeds even had a long correspondence with Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford. Ford called the Gypsies his “Model T Girls.

May 23, Upcoming Event: Silver Streak to be displayed after presentation and book signing at Warrenton, Missouri Library

The Silver Streak will bee on display at the Warrenton Public Library in Warrenton, Missouri on Tuesday, May 23 as part of a presentation and book signing sponsored by the Warrenton Public Library.  Presentation starts at 6:00pm and will be followed by the car being displayed and a book signing.  darlenes silver streak flyerSlide1 copy



Silver Streak to be on display at historic Knox County Courthouse, Sunday, May 7


Knox County Historical Sites, Inc. to sponsor Gypsy Coed Presentation, book signing and historic car exhibit

“Illinois Girls Like Jalopy Jaunt” read the headline of the Saturday July 13, 1940 Oklahoma City Times newspaper. “Fifth Annual Argosy Takes Venturesome Quintet to Pacific Fair (They Hope)”, it continued. The California trip would be the most ambitious yet for the fiercely independent girls who called themselves Gypsy Coeds and traveled in an old Tin Lizzie. One of those Illinois girls was actually from Knoxville, Illinois, and the faithful old Tin Lizzie was a 1926 Model T Ford the girls affectionately called “Silver Streak”. Author John Butte will make a presentation about the Gypsy Coeds, conduct a book signing and have the Silver Streak on public display May 7 at the Old Historic Knox Courthouse, 33 Public Square in Knoxville. The car has never been restored.

   The story of the Bradford Model T Girls (or Gypsy Coeds as they were more famously known) had all but slipped into obscurity in 2011, when author John Butte began an emotional search for the 1926 Model T. It had carried these single girls mostly from the farming community of Bradford, Illinois on summer vacations filled with hilarity and adventure for nine consecutive summers from 1934 thru 1942. The passing of his mother, who was one of these Gypsy Coeds, stirred a fervent desire within him to know what had happened to that old car, often referred to as a “fugitive from a junk heap!” The trail had gone cold. The car had not been seen around Bradford since the 1980’s. Not only would John find the car, buy it and return it to Central Illinois in 2012, over the next three years he would research and knit together the wonderful story of the 9 historic trips and the sisterhood of girls who went on those trips. In 2015, he published the book, Darlene’s Silver Streak and The Bradford Model T Girls.

While the “Silver Streak” is a key part of the story, it is much more the inspiring story of the antics and adventures of the group of gutsy single girls who traveled in the Silver Streak on all those trips. Darlene Dorgan, a “twenty something” beautician from Bradford owned the car and began organizing summer vacations at a time when young single women usually didn’t venture out on such camping trips. Their travels would become legendary as they crisscrossed the continent from New York to California and Mexico to Canada searching for adventure and seemingly finding it at every turn. Their Depression era travels included sleeping in country schoolyards, churchyards, and jails by night, and by day meeting celebrities, movie stars, and even Henry Ford…twice!

John Butte and his wife Carmen will be bringing the Silver Streak, a true piece of Americana to Knoxville as a tribute to one of those Gypsy Coeds who actually hailed from Knox County! Her name was Patricia Moffett, and she grew up in Knoxville, married Maury Bjorling and spent her adult life in rural Gilson. Patricia, now deceased, was a Gypsy Coed on that 1940 trip to California. Many in the area will recall her exquisite quilts, several of which were displayed over the years at the Knox County Courthouse.

The Silver Streak will be on display in front of the courthouse starting at 3:00 pm Sunday, May 7. The presentation will start at 4:00 pm in the Henry Knox Room with the book signing immediately following. This program is being sponsored by the Knox County Historical Sites, Inc.