Family & Friends
By Al Stewart
For more than a quarter century, Ken and Pat Wilson, L13812, of Greensboro, North Carolina, have averaged approximately 15,000 miles a year traveling in their motorhome without accident. Their travels have taken them to Canada and Mexico and to every state except Hawaii. The couple is on the road so much that when they do return to their Greensboro home, their neighbors ask, only half in jest, “Will you be here a few weeks, or are you just making a pit stop?”
The Wilsons obviously enjoy the RVing lifestyle. They also like sharing their travel experiences with others. Pat said one of the things she appreciates is that they can drive to any state — except Hawaii — and visit a friend who lives there. Ken observed that every state offers spectacular views to anyone who takes the time to notice his or her surroundings.
Considering how many places the Wilsons have visited, it’s no surprise that they have a difficult time pinpointing one favorite. Although Pat said the most awesome place she’s ever seen is the Grand Canyon, she added that the most beautiful scenery she’s witnessed was while snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. Upon further reflection, she declared: “My choice for a place to live year-round would be the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia.”
Traveling has always been an integral part of the Wilson family’s lifestyle. Ken’s parents, Norman and Helen Wilson, F5012, camped in a tent for many years before graduating to a motorhome and joining FMCA. The tent was passed down to Ken and Pat, who were raising their own family of four. After a few trips, on Pat’s insistence, the couple bought the first of two folding camping trailers. When traveling with four growing children (and a poodle) in a station wagon got to be too much, the couple bought their first motorhome, a 1973 23-foot Swinger. The new cost for that coach was $9,000. Since then, they have owned a 1978 Foretravel, a 1983 Foretravel, and a 1992 Safari. The couple currently travels in a 1999 40-foot American Tradition that they bought at FMCA’s winter convention in Perry, Georgia, in 1999.
Exploring the United States in a motorhome produced many happy memories for the couple and their children, Kevin, Keith, Kay, and Karen. Hours on the road, however, gave the rambunctious kids plenty of opportunity to find mischief in the coach. Ken remembered the children being especially devilish during a trip to Camden State Park, Maine. At home, standing in the corner was the preferred form of discipline, but there weren’t any corners in their motorhome. So, once the family arrived at a campground, Ken had each child pick out a tree and stand face-to-bark until each had learned his or her lesson.
On another occasion, the family pulled into a rest stop to stretch their legs and have lunch. Once finished, they all piled back in the motorhome to continue their western journey. After about 10 minutes, one of the kids noticed something was missing: the family poodle, Krackers. Ken quickly turned the coach around and headed back to the rest stop. There, tied to a post next to the picnic table was the tail-wagging dog. “He sure was happy to see us,” Ken recalled.
The Wilsons joined FMCA in 1974 soon after they bought their first motorhome, and have been members of several chapters since. But their “home” is with the Dixie Traveliers chapter, and has been for 26 years. During this time Ken and Pat have held virtually every chapter office. Ken also served as national vice president of FMCA’s Eastern Area from 1991 to 1993.
The couple’s first FMCA convention was the 1976 gathering in Centreville, Michigan; their most recent was the 1999 Perry, Georgia, convention. In the years between, they’ve missed only a few annual gatherings. Without question, their most memorable convention was the 1995 summer meeting in Minot, North Dakota, when activities were disrupted by an unexpected hailstorm. A more pleasant memory occurred the next year. While driving near Bryce Canyon National Park in central Utah on their way to the 1996 Billings, Montana, summer convention, Ken and Pat suddenly found themselves in a local small-town parade. Their preteen grandson, Kevin, who was traveling with them at the time, had great fun waving to spectators along the parade route.
During the past eight years, Ken and Pat have served as wagon masters for the Camping World President’s Club Tours. Each tour covers a designated area in the United States or Canada and lasts from a few days to a few weeks. The Wilsons trained for this position by serving as tailgunners on several tours run by Recreation Club Management Inc. During these journeys, Ken ranked Alaska as the number-one place in terms of scenic grandeur; for Pat, this distinction went to Newfoundland, Canada.
Ken is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — better known as Virginia Tech — with a B.A. in Business Administration. He retired in 1991 from a 30-year career as a systems engineer at IBM. When not on the road, he frequently can be found in his woodworking shop crafting shelves and cabinets or engaged in electronic projects for both house and coach.
He currently serves as a member of the FMCA Technical Advisory Committee and has contributed more than 35 articles to Family Motor Coaching magazine. Pat and their youngest daughter Karen also have written articles for FMC magazine.
Pat earned a B.S. in education at James Madison University and taught high school biology prior to the birth of their first child. She also has been a substitute teacher for several years. In her free time she enjoys watching Western movies on TV; she openly admitted that John Wayne is her favorite.
Married for 43 years, the couple maintains close contact with their four children. Although the Wilson offspring have inherited their parents’ love of traveling, none are FMCA members — at least not yet.
Ken and Pat have no intention of giving up their traveling ways. But they have slowed down a bit. Last year Ken dislocated his left hip and, shortly thereafter, broke his right leg. But once his recuperation is completed, the Wilsons look forward to resuming their RV journeys. “As long as our health and finances permit, we will continue to put mileage on our motorhome,” Ken said.
The greatest reward of the RV lifestyle for this amiable Tar Heel duo, Pat said, is “Meeting people and forming new friendships.” A close second, Ken remarked, was “Seeing this wonderful country of ours. It’s nice to see what’s around the next curve.”
With such an optimistic outlook, Ken and Pat expect to traverse many more curves during their RVing adventures.
Roadtrek International Chapter Helps Those Affected By September 11 Attack
By Win Seitzinger, F175491
During Roadtrek International’s chapter rally in Las Vegas, October 5 through 8, 2001, attendees helped those directly affected by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York City and at the same time showed their patriotism. The rally, hosted by John and Marj Santolucito, F204711, of Henderson, Nevada, featured catered dinners, a continental breakfast every morning, and many other enjoyable activities, including an innovative fundraiser.
The idea to help came from my wife, Sharon. Before departing for the rally, she decided that she couldn’t stand by and watch the aftermath of the cleanup at the World Trade Center without doing something. Digging through her stack of quilting material, she located some fabric that was imprinted with hundreds of small American flags. With the help of Wanda Haworth, F190613; Shirley Soares, F183231; Sunnie Decker, F204713; and Jean Voris, F265220, Sharon cut, stuffed, sewed, and assembled 60 patriotic pins to be sold to rally attendees. By the time the last pin was sold, the group had collected $175. Since the money was going to a good cause, several members donated a few extra dollars to show their support. The collection was sent to a trust fund to help the families of New York City police officers and firefighters who lost their lives during the attack. God Bless America.
Ernie Lindner Lived Life To The Fullest
According to his wife, Harriet, Ernest “Ernie” Lindner, L669, will be remembered by many FMCAers as the man with the handlebar mustache who possessed a great sense of humor and an adventurous spirit. The Glendale, California, resident succumbed to heart failure on October 3, 2001. He served as national first vice president of FMCA in 1979-1980 and as national second vice president in 1978-1979.
Mr. Lindner was a man of many interests, and, of course, motorhoming was one of them. The entire family caught the motorhoming bug when they traveled to Seattle, Washington, in a rented coach for the 1962 World’s Fair. “We just thought it was the best thing ever,” Mrs. Lindner said. “So we came home and Ernie said, ‘I can’t afford to buy a motorhome; why don’t I make one out of an old bus?'” He found a 1947 Flxible and began converting it himself, obtaining parts from Crown Coach Corporation in Los Angeles. That’s also where he received an application to join FMCA. The family became FMCA members in 1965, after the bus was completed.
Mrs. Lindner admitted that she was uneasy when her husband set about learning to drive the Flxible, especially when he insisted that she ride along with him. “He wanted me to be with him to look out the front. I took some knitting along and knitted a three-piece suit while he was learning to drive. I was afraid to look out!” He became a very good driver, she added.
Later, while running the marquis on the top of the bus, the family discovered that their motorhome once belonged to country singer Gene Autry. The Lindners also learned that the Flxible had been airborne aboard a military plane when the singer and his band traveled abroad to entertain U.S. troops during World War II.
Mr. Lindner enjoyed the mechanics of the bus, his wife noted. He often was seen out by the motorhomes at FMCA rallies and conventions, talking nuts and bolts with other FMCA men. He became known as the “Jumpsuit King,” Mrs. Lindner said, because he wore jumpsuits all the time. His attire and handlebar mustache couldn’t be missed, she said, even at conventions.
Mr. Lindner’s adventurous streak extended throughout his life. He took part in an expedition to the North Pole at the age of 70, and at 72, he traveled to the South Pole. At age 71 he copiloted a MiG fighter jet over Moscow. He restored numerous vintage automobiles through the years, and participated in the “London to Brighton Run” in England six times, each time behind the wheel of a different pre-1905 car. He was a longtime member of a gas balloon racing team, and flew over Australia, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, and the United States. In September 2001, the Lindners participated in a 1,700-mile auto excursion with the Model A Touring Club during which they visited Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Italy. Mr. Lindner had a tuxedo-style jumpsuit made for this trip.
Mr. Lindner was born on June 8, 1922, in San Mateo, California. He served as a navigator-bombardier in the Army Air Corps during World War II and in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. He flew a total of 83 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
As a young man, Mr. Lindner began working in his family’s printing machinery business, E.G. Lindner Company, and ultimately assumed its ownership. Early on, he began collecting antique printing presses and other machinery. He once said, “We would sell a machine and take in trade a piece being replaced. I couldn’t bear to throw away some of these wonderful machines, so I began shoving them into corners, even after there were no more corners.” He began scouring the world looking for historic printing pieces; he once quipped that he became known as “that crazy American who ships junk iron to the United States.”
In 1988 Mr. Lindner founded the International Printing Museum, which is widely considered to be the finest display of its kind. The 150-piece collection includes an all-metal printing press built in England in 1810, and a rare 1840 Columbian hand press, which he discovered in the basement of a print shop in India. The museum currently is located in Carson, California.
Mr. Lindner is survived by Harriet, his wife of 55 years; children Kristine Lindner, Ernest Lindner, and Jennifer Lindner; and four grandchildren. A son, Ernest, preceded him in death. Memorial donations may be made to the International Printing Museum. 315 Torrance Blvd., Carson, CA 90745.