By Don Graham, F181499
“The 50’s Are Great” was the theme of this year’s Great Lakes Area Spring Spree, also known as the G.L.A.S.S. Rally, held May 22 through 25 at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Soda shops, jukeboxes, poodle skirts, strawberry malts, tin roof sundaes, and rock ‘n roll were all well represented as attendees sashayed around the grounds and through the buildings. It was the decade of “Rock Around the Clock”; Elvis; Hank Williams; Fats Domino; and Eisenhower. Doo-wop and sha-boom “” and cars with fins!
The 1950s soda shop theme so brilliantly portrayed in the food building was brought about by a group of dedicated ladies who spent a good part of the winter researching and collecting the many articles. Thanks to Geri Taylor, Marie Garant, Rita Shantry, and Joyce Miller for their great effort, and kudos to Ed Shantry for building the neat “jukebox.”
Our rally masters again this year were the indomitable Dave and Penny Hough, along with Sandy Byberneit. Sandy and her husband, Ed, were to be rally masters along with the Houghs, but Ed passed away last winter.
There were approximately 140 first-time rally-goers this year and, despite the high cost of fuel, we registered 888 coaches, just a hundred or so fewer than last year. The organized registration process was directed by Max and Gloria Sutton and Mike and Joni Baker, and their group of capable volunteers. In addition to the rally program and a G.L.A.S.S. signet pin, each registrant received a neat LED flashlight in their welcome bag. The G.L.A.S.S. program was the sole responsibility of one of the cleverest men in our chapter, George Abbott.
The smiling welcome team was led by Jim and Wanda Riemersma, who checked the bona fides of each new arrival and passed them on to the parking team, headed up by Bud Kohn and Gary Graves. Ron Marquardt made sure the volunteers were provided with sufficient water or soda to assuage their thirst.
Heading overall G.L.A.S.S. security was Jim Riemersma. Building security was captained by Paulette Pace, and gate security was captained by Evert VanderMei. They all did a great job. Not one building was stolen!
Across the street from the registration area was the information booth, which was manned by knowledgeable volunteers who told people where to go; they were led by Bob and Sally Sutton. Having established directions, all one had to do was board one of the shuttles, the schedules of which were in the competent hands of Jan Abbott.
Again this year there was an interesting display of new coaches, including huge diesel pushers with multiple slideouts and open-ended toy carriers. Diesel semi-tractors were married to plush quarters for the man who always wanted to be a trucker. Type Cs and a number of first-class, preowned units were on display as well. Doug and Sandi Nie oversaw the exhibit of all these awe-inspiring rigs. The job of coordinating the other vendors went to Mark and Kathy Monismith and Stan and Nancy Newton.
Let me pause here to mention the one negative note to this year’s otherwise perfect picture. For the first few days it was frigid: winter-parkas-in-the-grandstand-type cold, the kind requiring padded outerwear, and gloves for promenade duty. I even saw earmuffs.
Every morning Coaches for Christ chapter members held a meeting led by Marvene Carr, intended to start the day with our hearts and minds pointed in the proper direction.
Michigan Knights of the Highway chapter president Mark Monismith and his lovely wife, Kathy, could be seen dashing about providing help wherever it was needed. They also looked after the food concessions.
Maybe my memory’s sagging like the rest of me, but the meals this year were better than I ever remember. One sitting provided each of us with half of a barbequed chicken and ample fixings. Marv and Marilyn Hills looked over the entire dining experience.
The dining hall monitors this year were folks from the following chapters: GMC Great Lakers, Hoosier Cruisers, Midwest Coachmen, National RV Great Lakers, Ohio Nomads, Ontario Overlanders, Ontario Rovers, PALS, and Tri-State Traveliers.
Most motorhome owners are passionate about keeping their coaches running at top performance. For that reason, G.L.A.S.S. offered a number of interesting and educational seminars dealing with every facet of motorhome care, plus travel. These seminars, ably managed by Chuck Borcher, were attended in large numbers.
If you were a golfer, you were a big winner during the G.L.A.S.S. Rally. Gary Graves invited all the pros and duffers in attendance to join him for 18 holes at the Pebblewood Country Club.
There were almost too many happenings to record them all. The annual book swap was run by Judy Kohn. Two ice cream socials were offered, as was a tour to Lemon Creek Winery. Prizes were awarded every day; this was looked after by Nancy Newton. The Frustrated Maestros gave a couple of concerts indoors, which were well attended. And, of course, one afternoon the ladies donned their purple dresses and gorgeous red hats for a Red Hat meeting.
One of the best-attended attractions, presented for the first time this year, was a classic car show, managed by Dan and Geri Taylor. Thirty-eight cars were displayed, ranging from a 1924 Dodge to a 1977 Pontiac. During the show country singer George Damron serenaded us with two hours of ear-pleasing melodies. The classic car show was well-received and is expected to become an annual affair.
The highlight of G.L.A.S.S. rallies always has been the evening shows. Despite the cold, the grandstand was packed every night. Thursday brought us Ken Karter with his many puppets, including his wacky “Madame Lasagna.” He coerced some of the audience to come on stage and help him with his madcap comedy.
Friday’s show began with a rousing interlude by the Frustrated Maestros, followed by a presentation of the flags from the FMCA chapters in attendance. The highlight of the evening was the John Bressler Show, with the multitalented musician and comic keeping us entertained with his famous rotating piano and comedic high jinks.
Saturday night brought a return of the Rivoli Revue, featuring Ron and Kay Rivoli. They are both musical and hilarious, a winning combination. On Sunday morning Ron and Kay brought us gospel music, written mostly by Kay.
On Sunday evening we enjoyed the MixMasters Show with Pax and Ronnie, a couple of zany characters in bright red jackets who played any number of musical instruments and carried on a running comic routine.
All this splendid entertainment and planning was the responsibility of Dave and Penny Hough.
Throughout the rally we were pleasantly serenaded by John and Karen Anderson with their Travel ‘n Riverboat Show. Karen also clowned for us on her pedal-powered car. Also clowning for the crowd were Joyce Agle and Mary Lou Fisk, as they passed out candies and smiles to the queue inching toward the ice cream social.
The Grandstand stage carried the 1950s motif with a jukebox, guitar-playing figures, and 33-rpm discs adorning the stage circumference. All this, plus the lighting and sound, was the work of stage managers Jerry and Jean Wessel.
After every evening show the 50-50 drawings were handled by Judy Kohn. Following those drawings, all of the attending FMCA member numbers were entered to win items contributed by vendors, FMCA, local businesses, and the Michigan Knights of the Highway chapter.
Monday was Memorial Day. The day started with a parade led by the Berrien Springs middle school and high school bands, followed by a contingent of our own veterans. Again this year a moving ceremony was presented to the gathered assembly as the U.S. flag was raised and then lowered to half-staff in honor of our many missing military. Genny Luckey, in her Marine uniform, read a solo accolade to those serving and dying to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. A 21-gun salute was performed by the local VFW, followed by a plaintive “Last Post.”
See you at next year’s rally, with the theme: “Let’s Race In Time At G.L.A.S.S. 2009.”
Northwest Area Celebrates “Christmas In June”
By Judy Keppler, F283131
When you pick a theme called “Christmas in June” for an area rally, a lot of things come into play. The holidays are the giving season; a time to be jolly; and a time for decorating and having fun. That is just what we did at the Northwest Area Rally, held June 4 through 7, 2008. The rally was held at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center in Albany, Oregon. It is a great facility with plenty of parking, and an easy drive from Interstate 5.
Since we had a Christmas theme, we asked rally attendees to give. Specifically, we asked them to donate school supplies to an area elementary school. The result was a staggering amount of supplies that were gratefully accepted by the school principal.
The volunteers were jolly, and we even had some holly! The temperature was cool as we celebrated the Yule. The dining room tables were festive with hand-beaded ornaments on evergreen trees. On occasion members could be heard singing Christmas carols. Santa appeared as the master of ceremonies; he was a right jolly ol’ soul.
Then out of the blue there was an urgent matter. The fire department rescued an attending couple from a disaster when their coach refrigerator caught on fire. Not only did the firefighters make sure the fire was out, but they gave the members an envelope with money in it to help with the cost of staying in a local hotel for the night, as the motorhome was not habitable. When Paul Williams, general manager of Guaranty RV Centers, heard about the problem, he loaned the couple a coach to use for the rest of the rally. It really did feel like the season of giving!
When rally attendees heard the story about the fire and the rescue, they donated $1,273 to the Albany Fire Department. The battalion chief and the firefighters who were on the scene accepted the donation and stated they were very impressed with our FMCA members and their generous donation.
On Saturday, toward the end of the rally, local U.S. troops returning from Iraq were greeted by our FMCA rally-goers in the park across from the fairgrounds. Arvin Spofford, senior vice president for the Northwest Motor Home Area Association, spoke to the troops and families on behalf of FMCA. Those who were parked close enough to participate gave toots from their air horns to welcome our troops home. This was one of the most heartwarming experiences ever.
Special rally guests included Nelson Stubbs, national senior vice president, and his wife, Janet; Joanne Durbin, national secretary, and her husband, Max; Tom Ainsley, Western Area vice president, and his wife, Joan; and Alice Bernard, Western Motor Home Association Northern vice president, and her husband, Bud. We also welcomed former Northwest Area vice presidents Jim Phillips and King DeBord and their wives, Ann and Jackie, respectively.
Along with the fun, we had many educational seminars, great vendors, wonderful food, and a huge variety of motorhomes to consider taking home. Rally master Dean Moretti was fantastic and demonstrated once again his talent for organizing and carry-through for a successful rally.
Guaranty RV Centers and Host RV dealership brought coaches in prior to the beginning of the rally for public viewing, and stayed after the rally to give everyone a chance to look at a variety of models. Our inside vendors also were open early and were happy with the “Christmas” shoppers.
Monaco Coach Corporation and Country Coach Inc. sponsored our wonderful entertainers who sang Christmas songs as part of their program. This year for the first time we had an evening of line dancing and square dancing, sponsored by Aon Insurance. It was a fun evening for all!
A special tribute goes to all of the rally volunteers, volunteer captains, and assistant volunteer captains for their hard work and dedication. The volunteers truly know the meaning of giving. This was a rally to remember.