By Jerry Yeatts, F390000
FMCA Executive Director
With FMCA’s 50th anniversary year upon us, we here at the national office have been looking at old photos, magazines, banners, scrapbooks, and other keepsakes generously donated or loaned by many of you. Other staff members told me about a film documentary that was produced in 1973 regarding FMCA’s summer convention in DuQuoin, Illinois. The Peaceful Invasion was about the initial fears of a small Illinois community of approximately 7,500 regarding the arrival of 1,600 or so strangers (and their vehicles) to their town. Citizens were concerned about police and fire safety, traffic congestion, litter, and noise as motorhome owners gathered at Hayes Fair Acres, a spot also known as the DuQuoin State Fair. But when the convention dubbed “Jubilee ’73” was over, the community discovered their fears were unfounded and that they had actually made many new friends.
Just think about how life has changed over the past 40 years. In 1973, the United States and North Vietnam signed the Paris Peace Treaty; the World Trade Center was dedicated in New York City; the Sears Tower in Chicago became the world’s tallest building; and Skylab was launched. The United States Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, and the Concorde made its first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic. On the political front, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned, and the storm associated with the Watergate scandal was brewing.
The recurring themes of this 1973 documentary are the same we enjoy today as members of FMCA. The commentator stated that we use our motorhomes to get close to the great outdoors. As FMCA members, we form close relationships. We always seem to lend a hand to a member in distress. And, as Executive Director Ken Scott stated during the 21-minute film, motorhoming “draws the family together.” Yes, even through all the world’s turmoil, the motorhome experience seems to bring life back into perspective.
FMCA will once again be invading a small town this June. This time, the destination will be Gillette, Wyoming, population approximately 30,000, for FMCA’s 88th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase. We’ll probably generate the same emotions from community members as they wonder who all these strange people are converging on their town and businesses. After all, according to the 2011 census figures, the addition of FMCA members in Gillette will temporarily catapult it to being the third-largest city in Wyoming, behind Cheyenne, the state’s capital, and Casper. These visitors will be schoolteachers, school bus drivers, lawyers, doctors, businesspeople, tradespeople, military personnel, musicians, magicians, artists, painters, police officers, firefighters, child care providers, and any vocation in between. They will hail from 49 states and five Canadian provinces. The motorhome lifestyle is what brought FMCA members together, but it’s the fun, friendship, and fellowship that keep this group coming back.
I’m still in awe each time I attend an FMCA gathering. Watching a city grow right before my eyes is still amazing. “Street maps” take shape, and homes on wheels are given spaces where they will reside for a few days. Bus routes are configured for each of the lots or subdivisions of this miniature city. It’s an urban planner’s dream. Creating emergency plans with local police, fire, and emergency medical personnel is a necessity to assure the safety of members attending the event, as well as the safety of the community. Planning banquets and arranging for food concessions; securing entertainment; arranging seminars; and organizing exhibits are additional items on a list of more than a thousand responsibilities necessary in planning such a celebration.
If you are in the Midwest, upper Midwest, or Rocky Mountain region, or you just have that desire to pack the motorhome and take off for an adventure, it’s not too late to register for FMCA’s latest version of The Peaceful Invasion in Gillette, Wyoming, June 19-22. Additional information appears on page 31 and at www.fmca.com/conventions.
As a special 50th anniversary tribute to FMCA nostalgia and to these unique gatherings, I invite you to view The Peaceful Invasion on FMCA.com. It’s a little grainy, and some of the voices may be a bit distorted, for it has been converted from 16mm film to VHS to DVD over the years. But the message remains the same.
As Harry Palmer, L481, FMCA national president from 1972-1974 and 1979-1981 stated on the video, “We’ll see you down the road.”
FMCA Mail Forwarding
Travel this summer with the assurance that your mail will be waiting for you at your next destination. FMCA’s Mail Forwarding is an affordable and convenient way to stay up-to-date with important letters, bills, periodicals, and packages. For a nominal monthly fee of $8, along with a postage deposit, you can travel with ease knowing that your mail is being handled by an established and dedicated staff with more than 100 combined years of experience. Tracking and mailing alternatives are available also. Contact the FMCA Mail Forwarding staff at (800) 448-1212 or [email protected]
COSTCO Wholesale National Membership Program
FMCA is pleased to announce a new benefit for members who are not yet enrolled with Costco. The Costco Wholesale National Membership Program awards coupons for free products and other savings valued at more than $50 to FMCA members who join the membership-only warehouse club as a new member. Please visit fmca.com/costco for more information. You must be a current FMCA member to receive this special offer.
Office Depot Discounts
FMCA has partnered with Office Depot to bring you a free national discount program. FMCA members can save up to 80 percent off preferred products; 15 percent off retail Web pricing on 3,000 of the most commonly used products; 93,000 products discounted below retail; and next-day delivery with free shipping on orders over $50. For details, visit FMCA.com/OfficeDepot.