Family & Friends
By Judy Hitchings, F93640
Members of the Heartland Execs. chapter found themselves at the beautiful Dakotah Meadows RV Park in Prior Lake, Minnesota, September 12 through 17, 2010, for a terrific fall gathering. Thirteen coaches were in attendance for the event, which was hosted by Jerry and Mary Huettl. What a great rally it was! Although the first official event was Sunday afternoon, many arrived on Saturday to renew friendships and visit the Mystic Lake Casino, just a shuttle-bus ride away. How convenient!
Our first official event was a dinner of Chicago-style hot dogs prepared by Jim and Bernie Kussy, which we enjoyed at the pavilion by the lake. What a nice location for all of our get-togethers. We welcomed Gene Nelson’s new wife, Barb, to our chapter. Curtis and Charlotte McMahon, guests of Jim and Carol Long, also attended. Everyone was happy that they decided to join our group.
Monday morning we started with coffee and sweet rolls in the pavilion. At 10:30 a.m. we boarded the bus for Boom Island Park, and from there we embarked on the Paradise Lady boat for views of downtown Minneapolis-Saint Paul. We experienced what it was like to be in a lock on the Mississippi, with the boat dropping as the water level went down and then rising back up. Our guide pointed out the former Mill District; the historic Schmidt brewery; and the recently reopened Interstate 35W bridge (the bridge that had collapsed and fallen into the Mississippi River in 2008). In the evening, we headed for the pavilion for social hour.
On Tuesday morning we enjoyed our traditional “Breakfast By The Men.” They treated the ladies to eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, hash browns, and drinks. And the men even cleaned up! The rest of our day was spent pursuing a variety of activities. Of course, the biggest attraction for the women was a trip to the Mall of America. That evening, Jerry and Mary Huettl, who happen to be native Minnesotans, treated us to a special Minnesota supper. The note on our agenda for the evening read “Bring Your Appetite And A Sense Of Humor!” So we did. We were served Spam kabobs, blueberry and wild rice sausage, and fresh walleye filets, expertly fried by chef Jerry. Everything was tasty, but the walleye won the blue-ribbon prize!
On Wednesday we had a quick breakfast before boarding the bus for our Saint Paul Gangster Tour, where we discovered a time when the saintly city wasn’t so saintly. Our transportation helped set the stage for the tour; it was a 1953 GMC bus, probably much unchanged from the day it ran its last daily route. First on the agenda was our guided tour of the historic Wabasha Street Caves near the river.
Our tour guide for the afternoon was the infamous gangster Edna “The Kissing Bandit” Murray. (The best history lesson I’ve ever had.) In real life Edna is Cynthia Schreiner, niece of rally host Jerry Huettl. She told us about the varied uses of the caves, from a mushroom farm and trash dump to a homeless residence and elegant speakeasy where bands such as Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey used to perform for the mobsters. Then it was to the streets of Saint Paul, where Edna told us stories about a dozen or so of the city’s most famous gangsters.
Thursday morning when we exited our motorhomes, we were greeted by a chill in the air, reminding us of our northerly location and the approach of autumn. After gathering for coffee and doughnuts, many enjoyed their “free day” at the Minnesota Air National Guard Museum, the Apple Barn, or shopping. At 5:00 p.m. we boarded the campground shuttle to Mystic Lake Casino for our annual business meeting, followed by a catered dinner. We enjoyed a visit from former member Ilse DeWolf Richter and her husband.
During the meeting we discussed plans for our 2011 rally, at which time we will celebrate our 25th anniversary as an FMCA chapter. We are looking forward to having all of our members attend. John and Janis Knott will serve as rally masters. It will be a rolling rally, starting in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, continuing to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and ending in Branson, Missouri, the location of many of our early rallies.
As we said good-bye and headed for our next destinations, we were reminded once again that we are still free to enjoy the lifestyle that allows us to travel as we do and enjoy the beauty of the United States. God Bless America!
GMC International Convention
Family & Friends
By Janet Frey, F96957
The owners of more than 150 classic GMC motorhomes gathered at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in DuQuoin, Illinois, September 26 to October 1, 2010, for the GMC Motorhomes International (GMCMI) chapter’s semiannual convention. The facilities at the fairgrounds offered a perfect setting for a week of food, fun, and fellowship.
Chapter president J.R. Slaten welcomed attendees as they arrived during the sunny fall weather. Many activities were planned for our members, including technical seminars, craft projects, hula dancing, cooking, and a flea market, to name just a few.
Sunday marked the official beginning of the convention. As the GMCs arrived, their occupants were greeted by our crew, who provided registration and parking assistance. Vendors assembled in the display area with their inventories of GMC parts and accessories, service providers offered technical assistance, and all types of miscellaneous extras could be purchased.
Seminar topics covered the “care and feeding” of our GMC motorhomes, which are now more than 30 years old. The information shared at these seminars makes it possible to keep these classics on the road. Another fun activity is the Open House, when some GMC owners allow tours of their homes on wheels. While some of the motorhomes are preserved as they were manufactured, many have been remodeled, with new interiors and paint jobs. We all marveled at the beautiful and clever ideas incorporated into the rebirth of these vintage motorhomes. It seems there are always several that are works in progress, and occasionally we receive a look at a motorhome that has been gutted for a complete makeover. Some owners have had their GMCs from “birth,” while other owners have made recent acquisitions. The camaraderie of the members allows the old-timers to educate the newbies so that we can all stay on the road and enjoy our special vehicles.
As the week continued, we enjoyed making new friends and visiting with longtime acquaintances. Food is always an important part of gatherings, and the GMCMI convention is no exception. A local caterer provided some regional flavors, and one member organized a crew to prepare Pennsylvania Dutch potpies. We participated in ice cream socials and breakfasts, and no one went hungry. Bingo games added to the fun, and entertainment completed the experience.
Because we appreciate the unique status of our GMCs, we always include a display of historical artifacts, such as original showroom booklets and sales literature, and toys “” Hot Wheels GMCs, the Hess GMC training van, and the Barbie GMC motorhome. For a vehicle that was made for only a few years, from 1973 to 1978, it is remarkable how many items were produced in its image.
During our stay in DuQuoin, we visited the quaint town and nearby attractions. We frequently encountered other GMCers when dining at the local restaurants. The townspeople were friendly and interesting, and welcomed us graciously. It is a beautiful area, and the weather was spectacular. The huge fairgrounds were fun to explore, including the racetrack, which hosted the famed Hambletonian Stakes harness races from 1958 through 1980. Our motorhomes were situated around a small lake that provided memorable scenes every morning, noon, and night. This was a week about friends, old and new, from the GMCMI chapter and the wonderful local residents. What a great convention!
If you are an owner of a classic GMC, consider joining the GMC Motorhomes International chapter. As a member you gain access to information about service and parts, along with fun and fellowship at the two conventions each year. For more information about chapter membership, visit http://www.gmcmi.com/; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or call Bill Massey at (325) 784-5861.