By Charlie Schrenkel, L140050
Years ago, in July 1963, to be exact, a number of families gathered on the property of the Hinckley School in Hinckley, Maine. Some had met before and knew each other; others were meeting for the first time. They had been drawn together through their common interest in traveling via motorized, self-contained camping vehicles. And since production-line motorhomes were just coming into being at the time, converting buses and other truck-type vehicles into “house cars” was the norm among these enterprising folks.
They may have become acquainted with each other through correspondence; friends; or quite possibly through a supplier of cabinets, plumbing fixtures, engine parts, transmissions, etc. Families from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Michigan, and, yes, two families from Quebec, Canada, traveled to Maine during the summer of 1963 to view a solar eclipse and to talk about their shared interest in traveling via house car.
These entrepreneurs were extremely proud of their skills and abilities in constructing their motorized homes. At early gatherings, they would put signs in the windows of their motorhomes so that others would know they welcomed tours of their labors of love. As noted, factory-built self-contained recreation vehicles were still rare. So, these independent folks decided that if someone could commercially manufacture this type of vehicle, then why couldn’t they do the same?
When they managed to come together is not really as important as how and why they did so.
I can only visualize the beginning of a project like that: “Honey, now don’t get excited, but that city transit bus shell that is in our driveway is going to be a beautiful motorhome that you will enjoy for years to come.” Yeah, I can only imagine!
But that is exactly what these intrepid travelers did. They started to expand their base of knowledge by contacting other enthusiasts through various sources as mentioned above. When they met, I’m sure there was always talk of “I wonder how many others are doing the same thing.” So, they reached out via the communications means of the day — mostly postal mail and landline telephones, as well as small regional gatherings — and started to receive replies from across the continent of like-minded folks and similar projects under way in various stages of completion. They exchanged information and helped each other to complete their rolling homes.
Dennis McGuire, who attended the FMCA organizational meeting in July 1963, was secretary-treasurer of a group called Cruiser Coach Club of Michigan. Similar groups were found in Minnesota and as far away as California. Again, these folks were located through word-of-mouth communication, advertising, and mailings and were invited to join a fledgling international organization called Family Motor Coach Association.
The legacy of these founding members exists today in the form of our Family Motor Coaching magazine. They discussed right from the start that they needed a way to share information, and, with great foresight, they chose the magazine format rather than a simple newsletter. The magazine continues to be a wealth of knowledge to help you, the member, enjoy your motorhome to its fullest potential.
Articles in the monthly publication communicate important facts about electricity; plumbing; tire and weight safety; places of interest to visit; and road tests of the latest motorhomes, with comments about new designs and amenities. Each January issue includes the popular survey of automotive manufacturers regarding which of their current model-year vehicles can be towed four wheels down without significant modifications. Past towing surveys are archived at FMCmagazine.com, allowing members ongoing access to this information.
So, you see, the magazine alone with its valuable content each month is a priceless benefit. The benefit of communication! The “how to” tips. The answers to “What makes it do that?” The suggestions in response to “Where can I get that part or service?” Technical articles and stories about interesting places to go, readers’ own testimonies regarding service people who have gone out of their way to help them, great places to stay, and on and on.
I carry the January issue with me all year long for the Mechanics Helper and Stoppin’ Spots contacts and for the RV Marketplace list of FMCA commercial members. And each issue of the magazine contains the “Association Calendar,” which lists three months’ worth of chapter activities that I might want to stop at and enjoy.
Our magazine makes ownership of my motorhome much more pleasurable. All of this through communication via the best motorhome magazine in circulation today, and it comes to me with my membership in Family Motor Coach Association.
And as I said last month, FMCA members benefit from all of this and more for only 11 cents a day!
Safe and healthy travels.