Family & Friends
By Diane Underwood
Since retiring in 1993, Juanita Freeman, F157418, has had two traveling companions — her husband, Ray, and her hand-stitched “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” quilt.
For the past eight years, the quilt, a work in progress, has accompanied Juanita across North America — from Mexico to Canada; from Miami, Florida to Washington state; and even to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. During summers spent in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and winters in Yuma, Arizona, Juanita has carefully crafted the quilt, piece by piece.
Before retiring from her job as a school bus driver, Juanita had made machine-stitched quilts for several years. But when she and Ray started planning extended trips in their 34-foot Champion Ultrastar motorhome, Juanita began looking for a stitching project that would keep her hands busy as she whiled away the hours spent in the front seat of the motorhome.
The “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” quilt, which incorporates 2,720 hexagons, was the perfect answer. Juanita said that she can quilt about 10 hexagons an hour. She expected to unveil the finished project in January at a quilt show in Yuma that was sponsored by the Desert Lily Quilters, of which Juanita is a member.
The nicest part about working on the quilt, Juanita said, was that it reminded her of family members and friends back home in Colorado Springs. Each section represents fabric swatches that she had previously used to make quilts, quilted jackets, wearable art, or wall hangings for her family and friends. The “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” quilt is the first piece that Juanita will keep for herself.
But the memory-packed quilt wasn’t Juanita’s only project. “I usually have three quilts going at a time,” she said. During the winter months in Yuma, the Freemans’ motorhome is converted to Juanita’s sewing center, equipped with two sewing machines, several quilting boards, and a small television set.
But it’s the hand-quilting project that allowed her to work on the road. “I prefer the hand work,” she said. “It’s so relaxing, because you can just sit. That’s why I started hand-stitching, so I could do it in the motorhome.”
With her “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” quilt completed, Juanita is already planning new projects, including a mystery quilt.
And she’s making sure that the Freeman quilting legacy will live on. Her granddaughter, Sarah, now 7 years old, has been quilting with Juanita since she was 3.
James Barnhart Passes Away
James Barnhart, L2624, who served as national vice president of FMCA’s International Area from 1981 to 1985, passed away in mid-August after a long illness. He was a longtime resident of Oak Lawn, Illinois.
Mr. Barnhart was born in Clarion, Pennsylvania, and worked in the coal mines with his father. He moved to Chicago, where he acquired a job with a trucking company. Eventually, he started his own auto brokerage, where he worked until his death.
According to his son Neil, Mr. Barnhart enjoyed all aspects of mechanical work. One of his hobbies was buying and converting buses, which he did with a friend in Indiana who owned a converted coach business. Once his father completed a bus conversion, Neil said, “we’d take a couple of trips in it and then he’d sell it.” Before long, Mr. Barnhart would buy another bus to work on.
Motorhoming played a big part in the family’s life. James and Dorothy purchased their first coach, a Dodge Travco, in 1967. “We traveled all over the place,” Neil said. The couple and their two sons attended all of the FMCA international conventions from 1969 until the mid-1980s. Neil particularly remembers the Traverse City, Michigan, convention, in July 1969. On July 20, during the convention, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. “I remember that everyone stopped and beeped their horns,” Neil said. A couple of years later, the family traveled to Wapakoneta, Ohio, Neil Armstrong’s hometown, during a homecoming celebration for the astronaut.
Conventions were smaller and more intimate in those days, and canoe battles were common forms of entertainment. Neil recalled such a contest that took place at one of the association’s DuQuoin, Illinois, conventions in the mid-1970s, which pitted the Teen Age Travelers (TATS) against the Grown Up Travelers (GUTS). “I remember when the TATS won the canoe battle. My dad got a big kick out of that,” he said.
The Barnharts were members of several FMCA chapters, including Converted Coach, Illini, Over The Hill Gang, Michigan Wolverines, and Wisconsin Badgers.
Mr. Barnhart is survived by his wife, Dorothy; sons Neil and Kurt; and three grandchildren.
Motorhome Industry Loses Pioneer
Raymond Christopher Frank, L132, a motorhome manufacturer responsible for creating the popular Dodge and Xplorer motorhomes, passed away on September 3, 2001, in Maryville, Tennessee. He has been lauded as the founder of the production motorhome industry.
Mr. Frank was born on October 29, 1917, in Peck, Michigan. He completed aviation school in Dallas, Texas, and returned to Michigan, where he worked for Warner Aircraft as an airplane mechanic. He married Ethel Shubel on June 19, 1937. The couple remained together until Ethel’s death in 1997.
In 1958, during a weekend trip with his family, Mr. Frank saw a privately built “house car” and decided he’d like to start building his own. Because he disliked the “house car” terminology, he decided to name his units “motor homes.” Thus, Frank Motor Homes was founded that same year. He developed a strong alliance with Chrysler Corporation and became instrumental in developing the Dodge motorhome chassis. In 1961 his type A coach became known as the Dodge Motor Home.
In 1963 Mr. Frank became the first to manufacture a motorhome with an all-fiberglass body. That same year, he sold his company to two Detroit businessmen, who renamed the company Travco and began producing motorhomes under that name.
Mr. Frank established a second motorhome business, Cruise-Aire Inc., in 1965, producing small motorhomes designed for two people. His next venture was the establishment of Xplorer Motor Homes in 1966. The type B Xplorer 21 made its debut in 1967, featuring an aerodynamic design. Other Xplorer models followed.
Upon retiring from Xplorer in 1977, Mr. Frank moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he opened a retail motorhome business, became a licensed builder, and constructed investment properties in a family business with his daughter and son-in-law.
Raymond Frank is survived by his son, Ron, and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth; daughter, Vivian Bishop, and son-in-law, Paul; sister, Ruth Ries; sister-in-law, Doris Frank; five grandchildren and step-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and lifelong friends.
Thousand Island Voyageurs Get “Tattooed” At Kingston, Ontario, Rally
By Peggi McDonald, F71504
The first Monday in August is a civic holiday throughout most of Canada. My husband, John, and I had no specific plans for that long weekend, so we decided to join the Thousand Island Voyageurs rally in Kingston, Ontario, August 3 through 6, which was listed in the Association Calendar of Family Motor Coaching magazine. We were honored to be guests at this special chapter event hosted by Norm and Diane Buist, F233165. What a wonderful time we had meeting so many RVers, mainly from Ontario and New York.
The highlight of the weekend was the Kingston Heritage Tattoo 2001 at historic Fort Henry, located in the heart of Kingston. Norm is a member of the Kingston Heritage Tattoo Society board of directors and obtained discounted tickets for rally-goers to attend this outstanding show, which is held every two years.
A tattoo is a fast-paced, colorful show of military music, pipes, drums, pageantry, historical re-enactments, dancing, and more. This year’s ceremony was titled “A Salute to Law Enforcement and to the Royal Canadian Legion” in celebration of its 75th anniversary. What a memorable presentation it was! Thousands of people flocked to the fort to witness this moving and outstanding performance. We were fortunate to find ringside seats at the top of the fort wall. It was amazing to see so many bands and drill teams come together in such grand formation. A visit to the fort on any occasion is an enlightening experience, but to see such a spectacular show on the parade grounds below was simply awesome.
Before the show, the crowd was entertained with music. When the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) escorted the guests of honor to their places via horse and carriage, anticipation filled the air. But none of us could imagine what a treat we were in for.
Throughout the evening, Tattoo 2001 featured a constant flow of outstanding brass bands and pipe bands, complete with trumpets, drums, bagpipes, and colorful uniforms. Performances by amazing drill teams added to the evening. One impressive formation consisted of members from the RCMP, the Kingston police, Canadian customs officers, the Ontario provincial police, the Canadian Forces military police, and officers of Canada’s correction service. Performances by the Canadian Forces Military Police Silent Drill Team, and the RCMP Dismounted Cavalry Drill Team added yet another dimension to the celebration.
As the evening unfolded, individual arrangements by several pipe and drum units along with military bands added color and pageantry to the event. Several pipe and drum groups joined together to provide the music and backdrop for talented highland dancers.
Between the music and drill team performances, the Ontario provincial police canine divisions put their dogs through their paces. These four-legged detectives, trained in search and rescue, tracking, and the detection of narcotics and explosives, are so intelligent. An equally enlightening demonstration was a hostage rescue in which officers of the Kingston Police Emergency Response Unit scaled the fort’s walls.
At the beginning of the show, all performers, drill teams, and bands joined to present an uplifting performance, and the entire cast of close to 650 returned to repeat this moving experience during the finale. Color parties parading in unique joint formations helped to close this amazing presentation — an appropriate end to a three-hour performance that brought tears to our eyes.
If we hadn’t joined the Thousand Island Voyageurs chapter for their Kingston gathering, we would have missed this fantastic show. My husband and I believe that attending rallies adds to our adventures, and we participate in and host as many as possible. Chapter rallies are wonderful places to meet new people, socialize, be entertained, and of course, eat. This dry camping weekend gathering definitely lived up to those expectations.
Rally hosts Norm and Diane Buist and chapter president Gary Ginn, F225272, and his wife Deana, went out of their way to make us feel part of their group. The Canadian Forces Base in Kingston was a perfect place to host this get-together, and the parade square provided a convenient, level parking area. Plus, Norm obtained the use of the elite Warrant Officer’s and Sergeant’s Mess for all catered meals and meetings. Two tasty breakfasts, a delicious barbecue chicken dinner, and a night of appetizers complete with silver cutlery and real china were presented in gracious style. Following the munchies on opening night, a comedic pianist known as The Ragtime Kid played old-time favorite songs. He kept everyone entertained and amused for hours — and singing along and dancing were encouraged. During intermission, Norm gave away door prizes from rally sponsors, which added a pleasant touch to the overall rally events.
Much of Saturday and all of Sunday were set aside as free time to explore Kingston’s numerous attractions. Several discount coupons were included in each goody bag, which made it easy to tour this fascinating city. To see Kingston come alive, many visitors rode the Confederation Tour Trolley. Trained guides explained the sites, historic properties, and attractions of Canada’s second oldest city.
John and I both retired from the Canadian military (he was in the Navy for 33 years; I was in the Air Force for 26 years), so we chose to spend our time touring the informative Military Communications and Electronics Museum located on the military base. We have visited several military museums during our travels, but the expressive displays in this well-organized facility promotes a thorough overview of all aspects of Canada’s military services, especially branches connected in any way to the electronics field of Canada’s armed forces.
Our rally continued Monday morning with a catered farewell breakfast followed by a chapter meeting. We were honored to have Doug Thompson, producer of Tattoo 2001, and retired Brigadier General Bill Patterson, president of the Kingston Heritage Tattoo Society, address chapter members to provide even more insight as to what goes into producing such a fantastic performance. After breakfast, Norm and Diane presented each of us with a surprise bag of goodies. Norm noted that he enjoys attending auctions to bid on trinkets in bulk. He shared with us the treasures he has collected during the past two years. What a fun way to end a rally.
Thanks to Norm, Diane, Gary, and Deana for a great weekend and for making us feel like we were part of their chapter. If another event is featured in the Association Calendar in FMC magazine for this progressive chapter (or other chapters) and you’re in the area, feel free to join in — a good time is sure to be waiting.