Family & Friends
By Suzan Rash, F219015
FMCA’s South Central Area celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Six-State Rally at the Multi-Purpose Events Center (MPEC) in Wichita Falls, Texas, from September 29 through October 2, 2003. Dubbed “Waltz Across Texas,” it was the first Six-State rally held in the Lone Star State since 1992. The event attracted 651 family motorhomes, 47 live-in vendors, and 87 show coaches.
Rally master and South Central Area national vice president Tony Innocenti, F56315, and the other Six-State Rally Association Inc. officials “” Jim Ammenheuser, F157201; Dale Johnson, F157253; Ben Loganbill, F164247; Margaret Davis, F211214; and Tom Drennon, F18175 “” along with numerous volunteers, presented a terrific four-day rally filled with informative seminars, lively entertainment, and a variety of display coaches and products for attendees to peruse.
One of the best parts of every Six-State Rally is reuniting with friends who we may only meet with once a year. Everyone was glad to see John “Chub” and Norma DeGonia, F13244D, again. This couple has attended all 30 area rallies, during which time they have seen many changes. First-time rally-goers were welcomed with open arms and we hope to see them again at many future rallies.
Since this was a 30th anniversary party, plenty of entertainment kept the rally rolling along. Attendees began each morning with breakfast accompanied by music from the Frustrated Maestros-South Central chapter. Evening entertainment was held in the Kay Yeager Coliseum, home to the Wichita Falls Rustlers ice hockey team.
On the opening night of the rally, everyone was brought to laughter by Janice Ralston Sons. Janice’s philosophy is, “In today’s world with the stresses of job, family, and community, we must seize a few laughs when we can.” She proved her philosophy by keeping the audience laughing so hard it brought many to tears. The program continued that evening with a flamenco music and dance program performed by Johnny Beard and Daughters. Johnny played the music for his daughter, Lexi, who has studied in Spain with some of the country’s leading flamenco dancers. Another daughter, Lissie, joined in on the violin.
The second evening featured The New Pioneers, a group of Western musicians who grew up singing many of the early Western classics made popular by the original Sons of the Pioneers. Many of the songs were familiar to those in the audience.
The third evening included a very entertaining group called Tin Roof Tango. This group consisted of five very talented musicians who collectively played more than 30 acoustic instruments. The program featured music from six continents, sprinkled with dancing and jokes to make for a lively night of entertainment.
The final evening featured a bluegrass band known as Tim Trice and Behind the Eight Ball. But before the band took the stage, a special presentation was made to outgoing South Central Area national vice president Jim Ammenheuser, F157201, and his wife, Kitty. Following the entertainment, Eugene Getzendanner, F116478, won a new scooter in our prize drawing.
Daytime entertainment began on Tuesday with the Masat Family, a band from northeast Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Masat and their four children thrilled the audience with some great music. On Wednesday, we were treated to a pair of shows, beginning with Bill White & Welcome To My World, a tribute to Jim Reeves. Bill is a nephew of Jim Reeves, and through his voice the legend continues. The second show featured vocalist Carol Mears, accompanied by Bruce Bartl on the keyboard. On Thursday morning Lady Nina, better known as Nina Bubrig, sang country and oldies music in an energetic performance that included several costume changes. Double Decker, a mother-and-son singing team, provided entertainment that afternoon.
A nice aspect of staging the rally at MPEC was that all the seminars, vendors, and daytime entertainment could take place in one building. Seminars were presented daily between 8:15 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., with an hour-long lunch break. The variety and number of seminars were incredible and included traveling in foreign countries, motorhome maintenance, and towing, to name a few. Danean Mitchell, F179420, led an all-day seminar and workshop on genealogy. The seminar portion was for beginners to this growing hobby, while the workshop was for veteran researchers. FMCA executive director Don Eversmann, F240000, presented several informational seminars detailing the benefits of belonging to FMCA, while his wife, Sharon, offered a pair of seminars on quilting. Seminars also covered personal safety on the road; how to be prepared for a medical emergency; and cooking with microwave-convection ovens. Dale and Millie Johnson, F157253, provided information about FMCA’s involvement with Habitat for Humanity and how interested members could help out.
The exhibit area was open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with a wide variety of products available to see and purchase. Captains Larry and Mary Claunch, F203139, did a very good job organizing the vendors and getting people in and out of the exhibit hall. Another nice part about having the rally at MPEC was that the show coaches had a building all to themselves, so attendees were protected from the wind and sun while they inspected the motorhomes. This made going in and out of the coaches much easier for everyone. We heard that several people are driving new coaches as a result of the rally. The building also served as the location for Thursday afternoon’s ice-cream social.
The annual pet parade had a very big turnout, featuring 55 dogs and two cats. Costumes ranged from neck scarves to a complete Elvis getup. The master of ceremonies and announcer again this year was Carl Davis, F211214, who quickly came up with something to say about each pet as it paraded by.
The Red Hat Tea and style show was a great success, with 250 women showing up for tea in their red hats and purple outfits. At least two members arrived in pink hats. The different color signifies that they are younger than 50. After partaking of tea and sandwiches, the ladies were treated to a style show that was enjoyable and very different. Kitty Ammenheuser organized the event, and members of the Red River Rovers chapter volunteered as models.
On the final day, the Six-State Rally Association held its annual meeting to discuss the next area rally and install new officers. It also was a time to recognize outgoing secretary Margaret Davis, F211214, who was presented with a silver bowl. After that, the new officers were presented and accepted their positions. They are: Tony Innocenti, president; Ben Loganbill, rally master; Dale Johnson, northern regional vice president; Dave Davies, F230525, southern regional vice president; Tom Drennon, treasurer; Irene Renfro, F138913, secretary; and Jim Ammenheuser, immediate past president.
As the officers and cadre closed the book on another successful rally, they headed off thinking about the 31st South Central Area Six-State Rally, which will be held in Gonzales, Louisiana, from September 21 through 24, 2004. We hope to see each and every one of you there. And if you were a first-timer in Wichita Falls, bring another first-timer with you next year, so they, too, can see how much fun we have at our Six-State rallies.
South Texas Renegades Celebrate 25 Great Years
By Shirley Rowland, F164727
Members of FMCA’s South Texas Renegades chapter recently celebrated the group’s 25th anniversary during a rally at the Fredericksburg RV Park in Fredericksburg, Texas, September 11 through 14, 2003. Fourteen member couples and four guest couples were on hand to commemorate the occasion.
The chapter traces its beginnings to September 9, 1978, when 12 couples met and enthusiastically laid the groundwork for the chapter during an organizational meeting at the Palo Alto RV Park in Rockport, Texas. Bob Humphreys, F29836, was elected the chapter’s first president. The South Texas Renegades received its FMCA charter on April 1, 1979.
During the 25th anniversary rally we were honored to have South Central Area national vice president Tony Innocenti, F56315, and his wife, Geri, join us. Tony presented the chapter with a congratulatory letter and certificate from FMCA’s national office commemorating the anniversary, along with a large coffeepot.
During the anniversary rally weekend we enjoyed shopping in the delightful town of Fredericksburg, eating at German restaurants, and playing games. We were pleased to have Peter and Dorothy Maese visit with us on Saturday afternoon. Peter was chapter president in 1993-1994. Saturday night featured a barbecue, with chapter first vice president Audrie “Sonny” Hall, F250509, tending the grill. We then enjoyed anniversary cake and ice cream. The anniversary rally was a huge success.
The South Texas Renegades meet in areas around the Texas cities of Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Upcoming rally information can be found in the Association Calendar in FMC magazine and online at FMCA.com. For further information, call chapter president Walter White, F197100, at (936) 321-6568, or chapter secretary Shirley Rowland, F164727, at (936) 855-2359. We welcome everyone to our rallies and invite you to become a member.
Empire State Chapter Surprises Member With 99th Birthday Bash
By Diane Vaillancourt, F150027
The Empire State chapter saluted Paul Hillman, F19286, with a surprise 99th birthday party October 3, 2003, at the Montcalm Restaurant in Lake George, New York. Eighty-four people, including 80 chapter members, were on hand to wish Mr. Hillman, who officially turned 99 on December 2, 2003, a very happy birthday. A beautifully decorated cake topped with many candles was brought out by the restaurant staff, and he blew out all of the candles with just one breath.
The party was quite a surprise to Mr. Hillman, the oldest member of the Empire State Chapter, who still drives his motorhome to all of our rallies. Many of us still remember how tired we were on the final day of FMCA’s 2000 summer international convention in Brunswick, Maine, saying how we couldn’t wait to get home. That’s when Mr. Hillman announced he was continuing on his way to Nova Scotia. His energy is unbelievable, to say the least.
Mr. Hillman, who lives in Queensbury, New York, is very confident behind the wheel of his motorhome with his little dog, Heidi, in the copilot’s seat. He is a hard man to keep track of and very seldom remains at home. In the early morning he usually can be found at his Fort Edward Express office or on his boat at Lake George, but most often he’s visiting one of his many favorite restaurants, telling stories from the past.
If you ever have the pleasure of meeting this very special man, be assured that you will get an invitation to dinner the next day. He will talk to you about his many travels and the places he is going next week, next month, etc. Mr. Hillman, the members of the Empire State chapter once again wish you a very happy 99th birthday.
While touring Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1990, Jim Hamilton, F289620, photographed this 14-wheeled motorhome he nicknamed the “Tundra Tank.” Unfortunately, Jim was unable to learn more about the vehicle, as its owner was not to be found. “I guess all six front wheels turn together, but I’ll bet it’s not all that great for parallel parking at Wal-Mart,” he quipped.