Family & Friends
By Al Stewart
The Coughenour (Cohen-hour) brothers of North Carolina have been traveling together in their motorhomes for nearly a quarter of a century. All three “” Aubrey, F6479; Charlie, F105311; and Clarence, F64660 “” enjoy the lifestyle. However, RVing is not their primary hobby. That would be tinkering with their antique cars.
All three men were born in Laurinburg, North Carolina, and Aubrey still lives in the house they grew up in “” but not in Laurinburg, where the other brothers still call home. In 1985, he moved the entire house, which was scheduled to be demolished, to West End, North Carolina, 52 miles away. After two years, the house was back together again, ready for Aubrey and his family.
Aubrey and his wife, Jackie, and Clarence and his wife, Gloria, have been married for more than 50 years. Charlie and his wife, Marjorie, exchanged wedding vows in 1987, the second marriage for each. All three wives say they prefer traveling in their motorhomes rather than the antique cars, although none of them spend much time in the driver’s seat on long junkets.
Charlie and his first wife began motorhoming in 1970, followed by Aubrey and Jackie in 1972. Clarence and Gloria bought their first motor coach nine years later.
Aubrey and Jackie currently own a 30-foot 1991 Fleetwood Southwind; Charlie and Marjorie travel in a 31-foot 1998 Four Winds motorhome; and Clarence and Gloria roam in a 34-foot 1996 Holiday Rambler Endeavor. Each couple has owned at least four motorhomes. Vehicles previously used include a 1969 Ford van that Charlie converted into a motorhome. Aubrey has had 1979 and 1986 Starcraft motorhomes, and his first RV was a bookmobile he converted. And Clarence owned 1979 and 1982 Apollo motorhomes. Charlie proudly holds the record for most miles driven in the same motorhome “” 80,000 “” in his 1969 Ford van.
Clarence and Gloria are the clear leaders in states and Canadian provinces visited, having traveled in every state except Hawaii and all but one province. The other two couples have visited more than 25 states and several provinces. Favorite places the three couples have visited include the Henry Ford Home and Museum in Dearborn, Michigan (Aubrey and Jackie); Yellowstone National Park (Charlie and Marjorie); and the Grand Canyon (Clarence and Gloria).
The three couples have been members of the Dixie Traveliers chapter for nearly as long as they have belonged to FMCA. They have served as hosts of chapter rallies in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Lumberton, North Carolina, and have attended rallies throughout the region.
All three couples have vivid memories of unusual “” and sometimes frightening “” experiences during their travels. Aubrey and Jackie ran into trouble in 1999 when a sweeper being used in a road construction project stirred up a large cloud of dust just as their motorhome was approaching. Blinded by the dust that quickly covered the highway, Aubrey hit the brakes, but the layer of dirt on the road caused the motorhome to skid out of control and into a concrete pillar. Aubrey and Jackie escaped injury, but their motorhome was damaged.
In the fall of 1988, Charlie and Marjorie had stopped for the night at a Carlisle, Pennsylvania, flea market. They left a rear window open to allow air to circulate through the motorhome. When they went to bed, both began feeling faint. Marjorie made it out of the motorhome and went to a friend’s coach for help. The friend helped get Charlie out of the motorhome and then rushed the couple to a nearby hospital. They later learned that carbon monoxide from a neighboring motorhome’s generator had seeped into their coach window and spread throughout the vehicle.
Clarence and Gloria’s most memorable experience occurred at a busy intersection in Winter Haven, Florida, in 1996. When their motorhome stalled and wouldn’t restart, a police officer told them that it would have to be towed. Clarence asked for a few more minutes to get the motorhome started, thinking he had a vapor lock problem. When he removed the engine cover, he realized the exact problem: one of his two gas tanks was out of fuel. He quickly flipped the switch to open the second tank, and started the motorhome. He never told the officer what really had caused the breakdown.
The three couples travel together for most of their journeys, keeping in touch with CB radios. Charlie is responsible for guiding the three motorhomes to their destination. As Aubrey observed, “Charlie knows all the shortcuts.” Clarence agreed, but added, “He manages to find lots of dead ends.”
Because of their extensive knowledge of under-the-hood technology, the brothers said that they do about 90 percent of the necessary repair work on their motorhomes. They admit that any motorhome requires regular attention and maintenance to keep it running properly.
When not on the road, much of their free time is spent repairing antique cars. In Aubrey’s case, those cars are a 1923 Model T Ford; a 1966 Mustang convertible; a 1966 Corvair convertible; and a 1968 Cougar XR-7. Charlie devotes countless hours to keeping six autos in peak condition “” a 1905 Maxwell; a 1926 Model T Ford Roadster; and four 1965 Ford Mustangs (two convertibles and two hardtops). Clarence performs necessary maintenance on a 1910 Maxwell with its original motor and coils; a 1919 Ford Model T Touring Car; and, like Charlie, four 1965 Ford Mustangs. They all agreed that each of these vehicles is a conversation piece in any group of auto aficionados.
Each of the couples has a different perspective on the greatest benefit of the RV lifestyle. To Aubrey and Jackie, it is the fact that, unlike their stationary home, everything they need is within easy reach. Charlie and Marjorie took a similar stance, asserting that their motorhome is much more compact than their house. Clarence and Gloria like the fact that they have no worries about a place to eat or sleep when traveling. All six agreed that the opportunity to meet so many friendly, helpful people is a distinct advantage of RVing.
All three brothers are retired but continue to lead active lives. Aubrey owned and operated a furniture upholstery store for 25 years, as well as a used auto lot; Charlie was part owner and general manager of a Ford dealership for 23 years; and Clarence owned a furniture store “” now operated by his son “” for 45 years.
The three couples have a total of seven sons, nine daughters, 26 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. None of their offspring are FMCA members; however, Aubrey and Jackie have a son who owns a motorhome and uses it sporadically on weekend excursions with his seven-year-old son.
The six Tar Heels conceded that they have been lucky to travel so many miles with an enviable safety record. As for their future travel plans, Marjorie echoed the sentiments of all when she said, “We intend to continue the RV lifestyle as long as our health permits.”
One thing is sure: When the six do cease their travels, they will have scores of happy memories
Ontario Overlanders Celebrate 25 Years Of Fun
By Peggi McDonald, F71504
Twenty-five years can seem like a lifetime. Yet, when you reflect on all the good times had during that period, time seems to simply fly by. On Labor Day weekend, August 31, and September 1, 2, and 3, 2002, members of the Ontario Overlanders celebrated the chapter’s 25th anniversary during a fun-filled rally at the Drayton Fairgrounds in Drayton, Ontario, Canada. What made this gathering even more special was the fact that wagon masters John and Elizabeth MacCallum, F10795, also hosted the chapter’s organizational rally 25 years ago in St. George, Ontario.
In the 1970s, the MacCallums frequently camped with friends who were members of the Michigan Knights of the Highway, the Midwest Coachmen, and the Niagara Frontier Travelers chapters. These friends encouraged the couple to form a Canadian chapter. Although the chapter’s first gathering took place 25 years ago during a Labor Day weekend, FMCA’s first Canadian chapter didn’t receive its official charter until February 17, 1978.
Four of the chapter’s 10 charter families were on hand to celebrate this wonderful milestone: Great Lakes Area vice president Don Crawford, F11012, and his wife, Kathy; rally masters John and Elizabeth MacCallum; Ben and Lucille VanDam, F13706; and Jerry King. Many members of the Ontario Rovers, the Michigan Knights of the Highway, and others joined the Ontario Overlanders for the celebration. During closing ceremonies, Elizabeth MacCallum discussed the chapter’s colorful history and exciting highlights.
At the group’s first gathering, attendees submitted possible names for the chapter. Ontario Overlanders, submitted by Elizabeth MacCallum, was the popular favorite. The creative badge design by Jack Verroche included a maple leaf inside of an “O,” which represented a wheel “” on which we travel “” and the first letter shared by the words Ontario and Overlanders.
The Ontario Overlanders proudly showed off that first chapter flag at the Drayton rally to honor the occasion. However, this is not the only important flag in the chapter’s history. In 1980, the chapter presented FMCA with a Canadian flag to recognize the fact that members from both Canada and the United States founded FMCA. To this day, the Canadian flag stands alongside the American flag at all major FMCA events.
If you ever attend an Ontario Overlanders rally, you might think that attendees are there just to help serve the food they prepared. The list of volunteers for Friday and Saturday totaled 27, with another 30 helping to serve meals on Sunday and Monday. Grilled hot dogs got the ball rolling Friday evening, and a breakfast consisting of ham, eggs, and toast with coffee and juice helped us kick-start Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sunday evening, our catered roast beef dinner with all the trimmings (complete with an anniversary cake) was outstanding. Before departing Monday, a large selection of continental-style delicacies helped fortify everyone for the trip home. Recorded music added a perfect accompaniment to all meals.
The Drayton Fairgrounds was an ideal spot to host the anniversary rally. Amenities included ample parking and a large hall, so adverse weather wouldn’t dampen the mood. Electricity was available at the campground, which made for a quieter weekend.
A Sunday morning non-denominational service provided a spiritual touch. After lunch that day, the short-and-to-the-point chapter meeting was followed by an extensive crafts sale that added another interesting diversion. However, the highlight of the rally was a bus trip to the nearby village of St. Jacobs. Attendees were divided into two groups, who either went to an afternoon matinee or evening show at the Schoolhouse Theatre.
The hilarious “Canadian Loonie” presentation was outstanding. Neil Aitchison, sporting a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform, had us all laughing at his enjoyable banter and one-liners. Howie MacDonald, a fiddler from Nova Scotia, played several foot-stomping numbers throughout both acts of the show. And “The Ballagh Bunch” “” sisters Paige, 7, and Devan, 11, and brother Michael, 9 “” step-danced their way into our hearts. Talented pianist Christopher Mounteer added another touch of class to the entire performance.
Before the show, everyone had time to explore the wonders of St. Jacobs, a historic village that was one of Ontario’s first Mennonite settlements. We chose to watch a video at the visitors center explaining Mennonite life, which was followed by a visit to the informative Mennonite museum.
A stroll through town past numerous shops gave us the opportunity to look for one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Our lunch at Vidalia’s Market Dining was an intriguing experience. In lieu of menus, customers walk around the restaurant to different stations to order the food they desire. At 5:00 p.m. the buses brought the balance of the rally attendees to town for the evening performance and transported the first group back to the campground.
Although my husband, John, and I are chapter members, it had been awhile since our last outing with the Ontario Overlanders. However, we were immediately made to feel an important part of this warm, hospitable family. Visitors from other chapters expressed similar sentiments.
A Bank Geared For RVers
By Roger Lee Miller, F238233
The drive-through golf cart window at the bank located within The Great Outdoors, C4450, an RV and golf resort in Titusville, Florida, may or may not be the first of its kind in the world. Regardless, it is the first for Florida’s Riverside National Bank.
The Great Outdoors, located just a dozen miles from Kennedy Space Center, is a gated RV community with RV sites, RV ports, and a variety of resort homes. The Great Outdoors currently has 1,400 sites, and is still growing. It is no longer just a seasonal resort, as many owners are becoming year-round residents.
Many residents “” both golfers and non-golfers “” travel about the park in their golf carts. They make treks to the post office, the B&D Country Store, Trimmers hair and nail salon, and the Plantation on the Green restaurant. In the evenings, electric- and gasoline-powered golf carts usher their riders to movies, bingo, card games, dances, and live stage presentations. On Sunday mornings, more golf carts than cars are parked at the non-denominational church. At Christmastime the diminutive vehicles are illuminated and dressed as floats for the annual golf cart parade. Of course, golf carts also are used on the resort’s 18-hole golf course. So, it makes sense that the carts would be driven to the bank as well.
Riverside National Bank opened the branch at The Great Outdoors in February 2002, and it has been a convenient banking spot for resort residents ever since. The bank is open five days a week and also offers insurance; investment services; trust services; mortgages; and loans on RVs, cars, and trucks. The building is conveniently located next to the post office in The Great Oudoors’ commercial service area.
Many of the resort’s active adults walk or ride their bikes to the bank. But should you take your golf cart to the drive-through window with your dog in tow, it just might get a dog biscuit.
Maine Wheels Celebrate 15th Anniversary
By Lorraine Roberts, F128496
From September 19 through 22, 2002, the Maine Wheels celebrated its 15th anniversary as an FMCA chapter at the camping area of the Ramada Inn Conference Center in Lewiston, Maine. Gary and Carole Adams, F62729, hosted the event and made this anniversary rally the best ever. Fifty-nine motorhomes were in attendance, including many friends from the Perfect Circle chapter.
The swimming pool and hot tub inside the hotel were greatly enjoyed by many members, as was the wonderful New England-style breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday mornings. On Saturday evening we were treated to a gala dinner celebration with our servers “putting on the Ritz.” This was followed by an evening of foot-tapping entertainment to help us dance the night away. Gary and Carole truly outdid themselves with a party we will all remember for a long time to come.
The Maine Wheels chapter has enjoyed many years as a friendly group devoted to the RV lifestyle. We meet in Maine each month during the spring, summer, and fall. Our first rally in May is devoted to cleaning up and planting flowers around the FMCA monument at the Good Will-Hinckley School in Hinckley, Maine. This is where the Family Motor Coach Association was formed in 1963.