By Suzan Rash, F219015
Beginning on Monday, September 22, 2008, the banks of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock, Arkansas, temporarily became the most populated campground in the state as more than 900 motorhomes began assembling for the “Rally at the Rock,” the Six-State Rally Association’s 35th anniversary gathering. The official rally days were September 24 through 28.
The rally, which was a cooperative effort of the Six-State Rally Association and the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, filled a two-mile length of shoreline with motorhomes, whose occupants had excellent views of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and downtown Little Rock across the river. Near the center of the parking area were the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum and USS Razorback submarine, the Arkansas Queen riverboat, and the newly constructed Downtown Riverside RV Park.
The selection of North Little Rock as the rally site was the dream of area resident and 31-year FMCA member Harry Hastings, who believed that Central Arkansas would be a prime location for an FMCA area rally or international convention. Six-State Rally Association North Area vice president Charlie Adcock and his wife, Gloria, who live in nearby Searcy, shared Harry’s sentiment, and during a rally at the Adcocks’, the idea was formalized and subsequently submitted to the city of North Little Rock. After a fact-finding mission to FMCA’s 2007 international convention in Perry, Georgia, North Little Rock leaders extended an invitation to the Six-State Rally Association to hold its rally in the town’s North Shore River District.
Although the actual dates for the rally were September 24 through 28, the first parking day was Monday, September 22, to give early arriving attendees the opportunity to visit and experience the Central Arkansas area. Many folks “” in nearly 400 motorhomes “” took advantage of the early arrival date, which led to some traffic and parking issues on Monday. To get coaches off Interstate 30, almost every side street in North Little Rock had to be turned into a staging area before coaches could be moved to permanent parking locations. After this first big influx of coaches, the next two days went fairly smoothly.
The city extended a warm welcome to FMCA, inviting members to participate in local events. On Wednesday evening, those who had pre-purchased tickets enjoyed the “Taste of the Town” held in the Alltel Arena, where more than 30 area restaurants provided samplings of their specialties. And on Thursday, many members strolled through the arena for the annual “Market Arkansas,” where Arkansas businesses promoted and demonstrated their products or services.
Attendees began their mornings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with coffee and doughnuts (served in two locations) and entertainment provided by the Frustrated Maestros “” South Central chapter. The Maestros also performed during the two ice cream socials, and at a Sunday breakfast buffet for rally-goers at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel, compliments of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. Following breakfast, many folks made their way to Dickey-Stephens Park for the nondenominational church service. This event included the debut performance of the 65-member Six-State Grand Chorus, organized and led by Coaches for Christ “” South Central chapter president George Archer.
On Thursday a full slate of seminars and crafts began and continued throughout the rest of the rally, with plenty of educational opportunities available for folks to choose from. That same morning, 64 golfers teed off at the annual golf scramble at Burns Park Golf Course, and it turned out to be a very special day for Cliff Osmer, who registered a hole-in-one on the eighth green. Back at the rally site that afternoon, attendees got their first look at the new motorhomes on display during the Dealer Block Party at River Walk Park.
Shopping took center stage on Friday as the coach and outdoor display areas and the indoor exhibits at Rally Mall were all open. The Rally Mall was always full, and members could be seen going back and forth to their coaches with newly purchased items. The Arkansas RV Dealers Association provided the coach display. And from all reports, the participating dealers seemed to have sold between 25 to 30 percent of the coaches on display.
Also opening on Friday was the quilt display, which included approximately 260 items made by South Central Area chapter members. Thirty-seven quilts were sent to the Burn Center at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and the remainder went to area organizations: Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Florence Crittenton Family Ministries, and the Free Will Baptist Family Ministries.
On Friday afternoon 244 ladies adorned in red and purple boarded the Arkansas Queen riverboat for the Red Hat luncheon cruise on the Arkansas River.
Four evenings of terrific entertainment were held in Dickey-Stephens Park, kicking off on Thursday with an opening program that included remarks from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays, North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Ronald Dedman, and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. The colors were presented by the Arkansas National Guard, and Amber Bennett, Miss Arkansas 2006, sang the national anthem.
Following the opening ceremony, Sonny Burgess and the Pacers performed a raucous rockabilly show featuring music from the 1950s and 1960s.
Friday was Veteran’s Recognition night, saluting retired and active military personnel, and included a presentation by Nicky Daniel Bacon, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Vietnam. The Homesteaders punctuated his presentation with several patriotic songs, followed by their traditional show of country and gospel music.
Comedian and singing impressionist Johnny Counterfit kept the audience laughing on Saturday night with his take-off of various performers. On stage for the final evening of entertainment was Wally Barbee, whose fast-paced show featured the sounds and music of favorite female entertainers from the past 30 years.
The Six-State Rally Association thanks the many people in North Little Rock for making this one-of-a-kind rally possible. They also would like to recognize the many volunteers from the Covered Wagons, Pelican Travelers, Rally In The Pasture, Same Ole Buddies, South Central Wanderers, and Texas Road Runners chapters for providing the help necessary to stage such a successful rally.
The 36th Annual Six-State Rally will be held at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma, September 22 through 26, 2009. Hope to see you there.
Marvin Reagen Passes Away
Marvin J. Reagen, F101008, died October 6, 2008, at the age of 77. He was the husband of Gerine Reagen, who served as FMCA’s Northwest Area vice president from 1997 to 2001.
Gerine and Marvin joined FMCA in 1988. They retired to Woodburn, Oregon, in 1989, and from there they traveled on many adventures. Gerine said Marvin’s favorite place was “anywhere on the road.”
In addition to participating in several FMCA chapters and attending rallies and conventions, the Reagens enjoyed spending time working at a number of parks. These included Roper Lake and Kartchner Caverns state parks in Arizona, and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Marvin especially liked Kartchner Caverns, where he worked “repairing the lights there and fixing things,” Gerine recalled.
Marvin entered the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school. He was an electronics technician, an explosive-ordnance diver, and a SEAL. He married Gerine in 1974, two years after he retired from the Navy with a rank of senior chief petty officer. After his Navy retirement, he worked as an electronics technician in Spokane, Washington.
In addition to Gerine, Marvin is survived by three daughters and two sons, nine grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren; a daughter preceded him in death. He was buried with military honors at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Memorials may be directed to the American Cancer Society.
Golden Spike Celebrates 10th Anniversary At Namesake Event
By Anita Price, F203773
It was the 19th-century equivalent of “The Eagle has landed.” The date was May 10, 1869, and the world eagerly awaited news. As the telegraph operator tapped out “D-O-N-E,” the United States officially was connected by rail from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans.
The Jupiter, a wood-burning locomotive from San Francisco, California, on the Central Pacific track was headed to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, where it came face-to-face with engine No. 119, which had traveled west from Omaha, Nebraska, along the Union Pacific line. In front of a large crowd, Central Pacific president Leland Stanford and Union Pacific vice president Thomas Durant hammered in the historic spikes to complete the first transcontinental railroad.
Flash forward to May 2008 when FMCA’s Golden Spike chapter hosted a re-enactment of this historic event to coincide with the chapter’s 10-year anniversary. The rally, which took two years to plan, was initiated by Larry Fosler, a former chapter president who now acts as a volunteer host at various National Park Service locations. Members eagerly awaited the event, some planning their vacations so they could be there for the occasion. Period costumes were worn, and the entire event was repeated with the same enthusiasm as the original.
Chapter members arrived at the KOA campground in Brigham City, Utah, on Thursday, May 8, and began the rally with a dinner at the campground’s pavilion. New members were introduced and friendships rekindled. The next morning, following a delicious breakfast, a business meeting was held, after which attendees spent the day exploring the area and visiting the local museums.
That evening, we enjoyed a banquet-style dinner at the Maddox Ranch House, a popular local restaurant that features local bison steaks and burgers. Several members were presented with engraved, lighted crystal trains as gratitude for their service to the chapter.
On Saturday morning we formed car pools and headed for the Golden Spike National Historic Site, approximately 35 miles west at the north end of the Great Salt Lake Desert. The bleachers filled with onlookers, a Chinese choir sang, and the high school band played popular songs from the Civil War era. We all were transported into that historic moment when the east met the west and a continent was brought together.
In the distance, the whistles called out their arrival of the trains from opposite directions, and the crowd began to cheer. The original Jupiter and No. 119 had long since been sold for scrap, but in the 1970s they were re-created using only photographs as guidelines.
Once the trains arrived, a re-enactment of the original Golden Spike Ceremony took place. As the final spike was driven, shouts of “Hip, hip, hooray!” filled the air, and a telegraph message was sent to President Ulysses S. Grant by wire. In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell was rung.
On Sunday, which happened to be Mother’s Day, the campground treated all mothers to a pancake breakfast before the group returned to the Golden Spike National Historic Site. This time, chapter members donned top hats and cutaway coats as they assumed the roles of the railroad tycoons and others involved in the spike ceremony. Using scripts provided by the local Golden Spike Historical Society, chapter members turned back the clock 139 years. Don Tallman, organizer of the Golden Spike chapter and a retired rail telegraph operator, re-created the role of the message sender who spelled out “D-O-N-E.” Kurt Simon portrayed the role of Leland Stanford, who raised the hammer to pound in the last rail spike.
Later that evening, during one of our famous potluck dinners, a representative from the Golden Spike Historical Society joined us for a brief history of the event and presented flowering plants to each of the mothers present. The chapter, in turn, made a $400 donation to his organization.
A beautifully decorated cake was brought out to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the chapter as well as to help celebrate the birthday of Ed Price, a charter member. Our special thanks to the gracious KOA campground hosts for their outstanding hospitality and for making our stay exceptionally pleasant. Thanks also to rally hosts Tom and Eddie Harrison, Rich and Betty Goodin, and Kurt and Betty Simon, who not only made the event run smoothly but also produced happy memories for all who participated.
The Golden Spike chapter unites members of FMCA who share a common interest in trains, planes, automobiles, and other things that “go.” Outings are held mainly in the western United States but often are planned in conjunction with FMCA international conventions. Events for 2009 will feature visits to California’s Yosemite National Park as well as Colorado and Alabama, along with several other excursions in California.
More information about the Golden Spike chapter may be obtained by calling chapter president Tom Harrison at (559) 299-7334 or by visiting www.fmcagoldenspike.com. A copy of the latest newsletter will be mailed on request. We have found that sharing a common interest has produced a chapter whose activities are unsurpassed in FMCA.