the 1959 Caravan to Eastern Canada – The campsite at Lunenburg
Mike came across the photo galleries of my grandparents (WBCCI #772) on this website. He was interested in seeing more photos of WBCCI rallies and caravans of the 1950's and 1960's. That motivated me to get busy and set up more photo galleries. Over time I became curious about his Airstream background so I asked him to send me some information. The following is Mike's story. He has a very unique perspective on the history of WBCCI.
I first became interested in WBCCI at an early age. I remember the caravan coming to my home town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in 1966. At the time I was 6 years old. A group of us kids in our town would sell raspberries and blackberries to the caravanners. Quite often we were shown the insides of the trailers and given cookies and sodas and told stories of far away places at the time we could only dream about. It made a lasting positive impression of WBCCI on me. During that 1966 Eastern Canada Caravan I decided to list the WBCCI red numbers,the license plate numbers and where each trailer was from so I would know the following year if I had seen them before. My parents never owned an Airstream. In fact nobody in our county did.
Each subsequent year I continued to list the trailers I had seen even as I entered adulthood. I attended my first Int'l in Bozeman, MT in 1982. I had moved to Edmonton,Alberta Canada in 1980 through work so I was too close to pass up the rally. Let me tell you,after being used to listing 100 to 300 rigs in a caravan,the sheer size of listing almost 4000 trailers was overwhelming. Not to mention it took around 4 or 5 long days to do it right. It was too much and I gave up. A decision I have since regretted many times. In 1989 I decided to try it again. Once more it was in Bozeman and this time I got all the units listed. During that rally I ran across many caravanners that had been to my home town back in the 60's and 70's.It just strengthened my admiration for the club that you could meet so many great people from so many different backgrounds ALL with one common interest (WBCCI) One of the couples I had known before Bill & Shirley Paul (30197) from Idaho took me to some of the programs and gave me the skinny on what the rallies were all about and introduced me to Clay & Esther Garrison (1133) and their close friends Willard and Marilyn Turner (312).
The following year 1990 was big. My first wife and I were married and we took a 4 month honeymoon traveling through the US. We got married in Wyoming with the Pauls standing in for us at the wedding. After the wedding we worked our way eastward and ended up at the 1990 Int'l in South Bend,IN. We looked up Clay & Esther at the rally and when we arrived at their rig they were being interviewed by the local TV station and newspapers. Esther introduced us to the reporters and told them of my hobby of listing all the numbers I had seen. The reporter from the South Bend Tribune was very interested in my story and after pictures and interviews we went to our hotel for the night. When we got the paper the next morning we were surprised to see a front page colour picture of us and our story. We instantly became mini celebs at the rally and were recognized everywhere. It really snowballed from there. Meeting most of the WBCCI executive and home office staff,and even giving a presentation at one of the region luncheons.
The Int'ls I have attended were held in 82,89,90,92,93,94 and as a member 96,97,98,99and 2000. By the way ,the only time I saw your trailer was at the 1998 Boise rally.---
My second and last wife Krista and I are members at large and are not active in the local unit at this time.
I checked my records and no longer have any record of seeing your grandparents and I think I know why. As you are aware, WBCCI has been reissuing the red numbers for many years. Around 1976 or so this created a problem regarding how I track the members I have seen. It's a little hard to explain the criteria I had to develop to get around this. There are several factors involved. Lets take trailer #772 as an example. Lets assume I saw the trailer in 1970 with California tags. Then I see your trailer at the 1998 Boise rally. If your trailer has Nevada tags it would alert me to check the membership directory for name and address. Then I would compare that info to the 1970 trailer siting in an earlier directory if I had one that went back that far. If the names are different I delete the previous sitings and keep the most recent one. Unfortunately I lose the previous info but over a 39 year span (which is how long I've been doing this) in some cases WBCCI has re-issued the same red number as much as 10 or 15 times. As you can imagine this could cause some confusion in record keeping. This is the best I have come up with to fit into what I want to do.
As far as your parents trailer #1183. I have seen it 3 times. All 3 times to the best of my knowledge with California tags. The first two times were 1967 and 1968 in Lunenburg Nova Scotia. The last time was the 1988 Salem Oregon Rally on May 26-30,1988. I believe it was previous owners the first 2 times and your parents in Salem. Since all three sitings were Calif. tags there was no need to delete the previous sitings. No system is perfect. I don't have any record of seeing them in Bozeman in 89. Were they parked on site? Were they there for the whole rally? Did they have their numbers on their trailer at that time? These are 3 possible reasons I don't have any record of them....or.....I might have simply missed them. With 3461 trailers there spread out in several parking areas it could happen.
As stated 1990 was a big year regarding WBCCI. The Garrisons (1133) and Turners (312) took me under their wing. Especially Marilyn Turner. She referred to us as her kids. At the time I was much younger than most airstreamers (30). After the newspaper article, several people in the club wanted to meet us. At some of the programs we were seated on the main floor with the Airstream brass and were introduced to several WBCCI Past Int'l Presidents and several future ones. Not to mention lots of Region Presidents and other WBCCI executives. Almost all wanted to hear the story. Many were already familiar with 'that guy who walked around the rally site listing numbers'. Many invites to drop by and visit followed. One of particular interest came from Max Connett (104) the 1976 Int'l Pres. for the largest Int'l in Louisville Ky (4493 trailers). Great story teller .He told us about how he was a musician in the big band era and I think he was in Jimmy Dorsey's band. One night they were invited to Al Capone's mansion to play privately for him. I found these stories so interesting.
This is also the rally I got to meet Dave Reed. A very busy guy but to his credit he always made time for me in future years until he left home office. The following year Trailer Life picked up on my story and I appeared in one of their issues in 1991.I guess it was my 15 minutes of fame. I was very proud that my odd? Hobby (my wife used to say unique) was generally being accepted at rallies. It wasn't always that way as some people thought I had some other reason for listing the numbers. You know Diane, its funny, one guy in 1989 didn't believe it was a hobby and even suggested I was listing the numbers, had access to a directory, would see who was at the rally, contact "my gang" and rob the homes while the members were at the rally. Can you believe it? Talk about paranoid. So it was not always easy for me at rallies listing the numbers and to some extent it was expected and understood.
In 1992 I attended the Int'l in Dayton Ohio which is Esther's hometown. The Turners were also from Ohio. In 1993 I was in Bismarck ND for the infamous rally that in future people would ask fellow members if they were Bismarcked because of the severe hail storm that took place that year. In 1994 the rally was in Canada in Brandon Manitoba and so was I. I missed the 1995 rally but that was the year I purchased my rig and suburban and joined the club. The 1996 rally was the first year and only year I towed my own trailer to the rally. It was great being on site,meeting the neighbors and enjoying the programs and nightly get togethers. I attended the next 4 Int'ls up to 2000. I flew to these as I couldn't get enough time off work to tow there.
The year 2000 brought some personal changes which included having to sell my Airstream and tow vehicle. This is the main reason I have not been to an Int'l for 5 years. Things are are looking up though. In 2002, I met my second and forever wife Krista, fell in love, got married and in 2003 Krista gave birth to our son Jared. A bundle of joy and a priority changer. Our rally days are on hold and we will not be in Salem. But my Airstream days are far from over. That's pretty much my story. I will email you one more background on some stats on my collection.
Just some quick stats. I have currently have seen 13,123 different WBCCI numbers. I have seen the most from California (1235), second is Ohio (1019). Everything is catalogued. I could tell you when and where I have seen each one. I could tell you how many I have seen from each state and province,how many in each year. Can also tell you how many in each thousand i.e. I have seen 683 trailers between WBCCI#'s 1000 to 1999 and there are currently 213 trailers with active memberships in that range I have yet to see. Each thousand is also broke down i.e. there are 95 trailers from California between the WBCCI#1000-1999 and I have seen 70 of them. I also have each unit broken down which is updated with the arrival of each new directory. i.e Unit127 which you are familiar with. As per the 2005 Directory they have 24 members of which I have seen 13 of them. The units I have not seen are WBCCI#'s 1119, 1420, 2399, 3904, 5766, 6640, 6694, 6744, 8511, 15160 and 30647.In 1996 the unit had 44 members and in 2004 24 members. This kind of decline is not uncommon but there are exceptions .i.e Unit 124 Ontario Canada which in 1996 had 129 members and in 2005 had 189 members. What are they doing right? This is what WBCCI should be doing a study on. There are a few other units doing something right also (yours included). In the 2005 directory there were 7504 members listed...5148 I have seen..2356 I have not. This will give you an idea of what I do. It goes even more in depth than what I have explained but as they say.. seeing is believing. Maybe someday I will have the opportunity to show you. It would give me great joy.
- WBCCI Unit
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