Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Oval, goose-egg-shaped membership emblems have long been a part of FMCA’s history. New members of FMCA have been issued various types of coach plates over the years.
The first 10,000 members of FMCA were given cast-aluminum plates that had their membership number stamped on them in raised letters. In 1973 the association began supplying numbered decals to new members in lieu of the cast-aluminum plates. This practice continued until the assignment of F44000 in 1982, at which time acrylic identification emblems were introduced. Beginning October 1, 1994, with the assignment of F185627, FMCA began issuing plates made of Lexan synthetic resin, which were designed to look more like the original cast-aluminum goose eggs.
Over the six years that I have served as FMCA’s executive director, I have periodically answered members’ questions about the identification emblems. Here’s what I have uncovered during my research.
In the February 1964 edition of Family Motor Coaching magazine, Bob Richter, L1, wrote an article to explain the reasoning behind the issuance of the F number and coach identification plates. He started off by confirming that no one wants to become just a number, so the obvious question is, “Why then, if so many people feel this way, did FMCA also succumb to the trend?”
Here’s part of Bob’s answer: “At FMCA, a great deal of our work is, frankly, shuffling papers . . . A numbering system makes this continuous flow of work much easier, truthfully; F345 is much easier to say than Washington, George H., and if FMCA ever grows in size to ten or twenty thousand members, or to a hundred thousand, we’d have to go back and assign numbers anyway to feed to a computer, in order to continue operating. So we gave in early!”
Bob went on to discuss other practical reasons for the FMCA identification plate that still hold true today. “First off, they are intended to be a means whereby a member can spot that, across the park, the coach in the grove is really a coach and not a trailer, and that it contains a fellow FMCA member family. By referring to the list of members with the plate number, the member can tell that it is the Sam Joneses from Austin, Texas, in their 1961 Super Twin Tiddlywink. This serves to cut the ice somewhat, if the Joneses are interested in talking.”
You might ask, “Why plates?” Why not a decal, or why not just paint a number on the coach? I would like to share some of Bob’s further comments. “The FMCA plates are, unlike a decal or a painted number, attached to a coach, rather than something that becomes a part of it. As a consequence, they can and do remain the property of the FMCA, and our bylaws specifically state that they are to be returned upon the termination of the member’s FMCA membership. It is the intention of the FMCA to control the privilege of displaying these plates strictly, so that the display of them will be meaningful … we do mean that circulation of the plates will be made only to those who qualify for them, and that return of them upon the termination of full membership will be required. This makes for a meaningful system, and for displaying them with pride on your coach.”
Obviously, over time the practice of returning the coach plates to the national headquarters became too cumbersome and was difficult to enforce. Today when motorhomers cease to be members of FMCA, they keep their identification plates. If they rejoin at a later date, they can use them again. FMCA membership numbers are never reissued and remain assigned to the original member.
Bob also highlighted one of the real benefits of displaying the goose eggs: recruitment of new members. “Another advantage of the plates is that they serve as an advertisement to the public of the existence of FMCA. While the organization is so new, this is particularly important to FMCA; as time passes, however, the plates will continue to serve as a reminder to the public.”
That philosophy has not changed. Displaying the goose egg is very important to FMCA. Quite often it is the tool that initiates a conversation about the merits of being a member of FMCA. Then, sharing a copy of the magazine increases their desire to become a member.
In 1973, when FMCA celebrated its 10th anniversary, the identification plate changed. The November/December 1972 edition of Family Motor Coaching magazine included a short note titled “New Tags To Be Issued.” It stated, “Beginning with member F10000, vinyl ‘goose eggs’ will be issued. Reason “” like everything else “” high cost of material. Not wanting to raise initiation fee or members’ renewal rate from the present $15 per year, decision favored weatherproof vinyl in same form. However, if members desire metal plaques, these will be provided by special order. Cost $5.50 per pair.”
Also in 1973, the true family concept entered into the identification plate. As stated in the July/August 1973 edition of FMC magazine, ” … the Board of Directors accepted the recommendation that provision be made for a ‘second generation’ coach identification plate and number assignment which would make it possible for sons or daughters from family units previously members to be assigned the same number as the original family number with the addition of an S in the case of a son and a D in the case of a daughter.”
The current FMCA Bylaws expands upon this action by indicating, “FMCA shall, upon request, issue the original F number to sons, daughters, grandchildren, or parents of active or former members with the addition of an ‘S,’ ‘D,’ ‘G,’ or ‘P,’ respectively, centered below the number on the emblem.”
Plexiglas plates were introduced in June 1982. An explanation in that edition of FMC magazine noted, “The new membership plates are injection molded out of clear acrylic (Plexiglas), which is an excellent plastic for outdoor applications. The membership number is engraved on the reverse side of the emblems and then decorated by hot stamping the black, and spraying white and then silver.” The new plates sold for $17 per pair, the same as the old metal plates.
Yet another type of material, Lexan, was used beginning in late 1994. The December edition of Family Motor Coaching that year contained an article in which Jim Ballentine, L8780, national president, introduced the Lexan plate. “Another new item in the month of December will be our new style goose egg. New members joining the association will be receiving a membership plate made of Lexan, which will have the same appearance as our original aluminum plates. The only difference will be that the letters and numerals will be white and will have much better visibility. Our supplier of the smooth acrylic plates advised us in September that our mold was worn out and that a new one would have to be made at a cost of $30,000. They also advised us that a 40 percent price increase would be forthcoming in November. Needless to say, that prompted some investigation into another source for plates.”
The FMCA identification number and the identification plates, or goose eggs, are important “” an integral part of the Family Motor Coach Association. And, like many other decisions made in the beginning when FMCA was formed, they have served the test of time and proved to be beneficial to the association.
Please display your FMCA plates with pride. Kiley Mold, the company that now manufactures them for FMCA, also sells several types of mounts you can use to attach the plates to your coach. You will find their ad on page 177 of this magazine.
FMCA Coach Identification Emblem Types
Plate Numbers Type of Plate Years
1 – 10,000 cast aluminum 1963 – 1973
10,001 – 44,000 decal 1973 – 1982
44,001 – 185,626 acrylic 1982 – 1994
185,627 – present Lexan 1994 – present
The “Goose Egg”
Executive Director’s Commentary