Family & Friends
By Don Graham, F181499
E komo mai (Welcome)! All the grass-skirted wahines (women) and tom-tom-tummied kanes (men) had a ball doing the hula down by the kai (seashore). They lazed under the ersatz palm trees and thatched parasols. They ran their toes through the sand and exulted in the aroma of the tropical hibiscus. Okay, so they were only petunias. Use your imagination. And who said Berrien Springs, Michigan, wasn’t like Waikiki? Heck, all that was missing was the Pacific Ocean and a few volcanoes.
Yes, the theme of the 2007 Great Lakes Area Spring Spree (G.L.A.S.S. Rally), held May 24 through 28, 2007, at the Berrien County Youth Fair, was “Hawaiian Heaven,” and celebrated with lots of aloha shirts and grass skirts.
Rally masters Ed and Sandy Byberneit were the quintessential Polynesian couple, while Dave and Penny Hough looked authentically Hawaiian, he in his aloha shirt and she in her bright red, flowing muumuu. They did a fantastic job keeping the more than 2,000 attendees happy and enjoying our annual spring festival. The final coach count of the rally came to 1,043.
This 30th annual version of the G.L.A.S.S. was a departure from previous years insofar as much greater emphasis was placed on entertainment. For the first time the grandstand show began on Thursday evening, and entertainment continued through Sunday. The performers included Keith Longbotham, a hilarious songwriter and instrumentalist; Phil Dirt and the Dozers, who brought with them a medley of old-time hits and golden oldies; The Marlins, who presented a toe-tapping assortment of bluegrass, ragtime, and down-home melodies; the Heralder’s Quartet, a harmony gospel group who led the Sunday morning devotional; and Family Tradition, a father and three sons who sang and clowned their way through classic oldies and humorous impersonations.
During the afternoons we were regaled by troubadours who, with guitars and 10-gallon hats, drew crowds of appreciative listeners. Where did they ever find guys like George Damron, Steve Berkemeier, and Chris Ayotte? Did they kidnap them from the stage at the Grand Ole Opry? They were wonderfully country with guitar styles and voices that would put those “American Idol” wannabes to shame. Another couple, John and Karen Anderson, wandered the grounds pleasing listeners with their musical Travel’n Riverboat Show.
The ubiquitous Frustrated Maestros made several crowd-gathering appearances. They performed a tribute to our armed forces, both veterans and those still active, during a special grandstand show to commemorate the Memorial Day Weekend.
Our own Howard Cowles performed his swan song. Along with his lovely wife, Juanita, Howard retired from 30 years of calling square dances and leading the neophyte dancers through the intricate steps of modern square and line dancing.
Entertaining, too, was the Great Lakes Area Style Show, a parade of vendors’ fashions staged and presented by Connie Wilson.
Following the evening performances, 50/50 prizes were drawn by Judy Kohn, and I heard more than one lucky recipient chortle when she won $100. Fortunately, the weather was moderate, and most people stayed until after the many excellent door prizes, drawn by Dave Hough, were called and quickly collected.
The entertainment was not the only thing worth writing about. The meals served in our Hawaiian-decked dining hall were terrific. Five gals were responsible for the fantastic décor: Geri Taylor, Marie Garant, Jackie Trefry, Rita Shantry, and Joyce Miller. The dining hall operation was adeptly handled by Marv and Marilyn Hills. The meals were carefully planned and organized to meet everybody’s taste. I don’t remember being served better, more satisfying fare. No one could find fault with the barbecued chicken with red-skinned potatoes, or the roast pork with au gratin potatoes. Breakfast, too, was delicious with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, orange juice, and coffee. Every day the various Great Lakes chapters provided volunteers to monitor the dining hall.
While most of us were enjoying the remarkable variety of diversions and events, another 500 or so volunteers were laboring to welcome new arrivals, direct them to parking spaces, get them registered, and provide bags of goodies. The welcome team was capably led by Larry and Peg Schroeder and Jim and Wanda Riemersma, while the parking crew was managed by Bud Kohn and Gary Graves. Registration was firmly administered by Gary and Pat Graves and Max and Gloria Sutton, who accurately juggled thousands of individual accounts with the help of their assemblage of volunteers. The rally program was written and edited by George Abbott, who also publishes and distributes the “Michigan Knightsletter.”
To many, the most interesting pursuit of the entire gathering was the avid search through the commercial buildings for the many accessories necessary to keep their roving coaches in safe running condition. Others, not sure that they wanted to continue with their old wheels, were just as avidly researching the many new motorhomes for sale. I heard that at least 37 new coaches were purchased during the rally this year. The commercial buildings and the vendors’ activities were handled by Mark and Kathy Monismith and Stan and Nancy Newton, while the coach displays were the responsibility of Doug and Sandi Nie.
How many others diligently worked to make the success of the Spring Spree a certainty? Well, there was stage manager Jerry Wessel, who, with the help of his wife, Jean, did all the setup and décor for the stage. Jerry also headed the Coaches for Christ meeting early every morning. There was the golf tournament and the 50-Foot Putt for Cash, run by Bill and Linn Schueller. There were numerous seminars to be organized and scheduled, a grueling job handled by Chuck Borcher. The 50/50 drawing was carried out by Judy Kohn and her team of persistent salesladies. She also set up and arranged the Book Swap. The daily drawings were looked after by Jim and Betty Pryor.
For the many folks who needed transport around the grounds, Jan Abbott was ready and willing to dispatch one of her six-seated golf carts. For those in need of a hug, a candy, or a big smile, there were the clowns, Bluebird (Twyla Grovom) and Dotty (Joyce Agle). And if you were looking for answers to your rally questions, all you had to do was stop by the Information Center manned by Bob and Sally Sutton.
Important to the comfort and morale of the many workers laboring in the outreaches and fringes of the grounds was the guy who brought them cold drinks and morning doughnuts. That was Ron Marquardt’s smiling duty.
Consider, too, who had to look after all the money that changed hands in an operation of this size. For that you needed someone extremely smart, scrupulous, and honest, which perfectly describes our treasurer, Gloria “Squeaky” Sutton.
Every year, it seems, there are an increasing number of golf carts carrying folks about the grounds. Dan Taylor had the task of issuing the carts and making sure each one was in good operating condition. I almost forgot our intrepid tractor man, Bill Trefry, an indispensable person when your coach is mired and unmovable or when a heavy load needs to be lifted.
On Saturday, May 26, attendees gathered for the Great Lakes Area MotorCoach Association Annual Meeting where new officers were elected and installed. The officers for the association are: Ross Boyer, president; Jon Walker, senior vice president; Chuck Powell, secretary; Ginny McGrath, treasurer; Roseanne Gardner, Indiana regional vice president; David Flickinger, Michigan regional vice president; and Dave Bauer, Ohio regional vice president. Due to the resignation of Dan Dunning, the Ontario regional vice president office is vacant and no one was elected to that position.
Monday, May 28, was Memorial Day and early that morning the cadence of drums and the blare of brass could be heard as the Berrien Springs High School and Middle School bands accompanied the many spectators to the flag ceremony. After raising the flag to the top of the flagpole and lowering it to half-mast in honor of our fallen veterans, Glen Perkin spoke of the sacrifices made by our courageous servicemen and women to keep our country’s freedoms inviolate. Appearing smart in her U.S. Marine Corps uniform, Genny Luckey recited an impassioned tribute to the many fallen from our military ranks. The “Last Post” was played by echoing bugles, after which was heard a resounding 21-gun salute. In all, it was a truly touching and emotional experience.
Start planning now for G.L.A.S.S. 2008, May 22 through 26, 2008, when the theme will be “The ’50s Are Great In 2008.”
Bob Holbrook Passes
Bob Holbrook, L10271, husband of the late Kaye Holbrook, who served as FMCA national secretary (1977-1981) and national senior vice president (1981-1982), died in Fort Myers, Florida, on July 16, 2007.
The Holbrooks first learned about FMCA from neighbors and attended the association’s 10th annual summer convention in DuQuoin, Illinois, in July 1973. They joined FMCA soon afterward and immediately began participating in numerous activities and chapters. When FMCA initiated its life membership program in 1976, the Holbrooks were the seventh couple to sign up. During their years of motorhoming, the couple owned six coaches: an Open Road, an Executive, three Newells, and a Pace Arrow.
The Holbrooks helped form several chapters, including Achievers International and The Newells (originally called Newell Jewels), and were longtime members of the 20th Century Wagontrainers. Their infectious enthusiasm for FMCA helped convince others to join, and during the 1980 “Twin Cities Jamboree” convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, they were presented with watches in recognition of their efforts at recruiting 100 new members. In all, the energetic couple brought 143 new member families to FMCA.
Beverly Spurgeon, FMCA’s director of Membership Services, knew the Holbrooks well and even attended an FMCA rally as a guest in the couple’s motorhome. “They treated me royally, and Bob even let me drive his coach … to the dump station where he taught me how to empty the holding tank!” she recalled. “We had a lot of fun on that trip.”
Bob and Kaye were married for 31 years before her death in 2004. He is survived by a son and his grandchildren.
A Lone Star Celebration
By Suzan Rash, F219015
On June 16, 1967, the Family Motor Coach Association granted a charter to the Lone Star chapter. To recognize the 40th anniversary of this occasion, current chapter members met at the Lake Conroe/Houston North KOA in Montgomery, Texas, May 31 through June 3, 2007. A total of 65 of the chapter’s 181 families celebrated the chapter’s 40th anniversary with food, fellowship, and fun.
During the rally, chapter president Ray Gour accepted a letter of congratulations and a check from FMCA senior vice president Connie Pool and South Central Area vice president Tony Innocenti. The chapter was very glad to have these FMCA national officers at our meeting. Tony Innocenti was the presenter at the chapter’s 35th anniversary rally, as well.
Since 1967 the Lone Star chapter has had 35 different presidents. The fact that 10 of the past presidents were present at the meeting was a special treat. Former presidents Ben Magness (1973-75), Cliff Hill (1983-85), Willard Smith (1993-94), Ben Loganbill (1995-96), Dave Renfro (2000), Gene Getzendanner (2001), Blanche Moffett (2002), Jack Bryan (2004), Sheri Brewer (2005), and Dave Davies (2006) joined Ray Gour (2007) in distributing special 40th-anniversary pins (made in the shape of Texas) to everyone in attendance. Dean Little, a former chapter secretary, also attended the event.
The theme for the rally was “A Trip Down Memory Lane.” On Thursday and Friday evenings we were entertained by folks who had appeared at past rallies, while on Friday night several acts from previous years were brought back to life: a trio of men performing the Hokey-Pokey; several of the models from the “womanless” style show; some members of the “womanless” wedding party; and the Tree Amigos. Everyone always gets a big laugh out of these performances.
There was plenty of time for card games and other fun during the days and evenings. Many of the women and some of the men stayed active making blankets and quilts, some of which were donated to a charity, as was food for the local food bank. A very active game of beanbag baseball was played on Friday, and was enjoyed by participants and spectators alike.
We will continue to look forward to adding new chapter members who have recognized the freedom and fun, as well as some difficulties, of motorhoming. We have our sights set on future Lone Star chapter rallies and look forward to our 45th anniversary in 2012.