Demographic Q&A's Early Club, Caravans and Airstream
Demographics Question for Pee Wee...
Pee Wee, You have been very generous with your sharing of early WBCCI times and I hope you will be so once again. I have a question that only you (maybe a few others) can answer.
The early WBCCI events & personalities you were involved with – which appears to be quite extensive – could you tell me who these people were?
I’m asking about them at the time they were active and not so much interested in names but backgrounds.
Were they middle class, upper class, idle rich?
Mostly middle-class and upper middle-class. You must realize that financially and economically the income, and status of people were quite narrow in the middle of the 20th century. Of course there were retired people living their dreams on their pensions, social security and savings. And yes there were those that would be considered upper class, possibly rich, but never the idle rich.
How were they able to put their affairs on hold for extended times?
The farmers and ranchers had caretakers; teachers enjoyed their summer vacations; retired people just enjoyed. Doctors took vacations, contractors had foremen.
How old were they -- in their 20’s, 30’s, 60's?
The age spread was 40’s to 70’s with a few younger and few older. Dr. Monroe was 84 in Africa, 81 in Europe and died at 101 (I believe) Average age probably 60. Giver or take a spread of four years.
Did they have families – did they bring them along to the events?
Very family oriented. During the summer Caravans, there were families with all of their children, and pets. Grandparents took their grandchildren. Even extended families with several Airstreams. At rallies always many children with parents and grandparents.
Were they US Americans or internationals (I seem to remember some reference you made to traveling with Brits).
I believe later on there may have been Europeans that traveled on Caravans.
The Wally Byam Foundation (1962 to 1976) had car loans from Detroit and Airstreams furnished by the Company. The WBF had many limited “Caravans” for all venues of people, including diplomats, correspondents, French and English Caravan members and more.
In the early days none that I can remember.
Did they feel they were on some sort of mission -- to promote camping, Airstreams, wonders of the modern age, something else or did they see this simply as a long rolling party?
Wally always enjoyed camping, both hiking and Airstreaming. Two facets of Airstream, it was a business and a way of life for the owners. Airstream was touted to go anywhere your tow vehicle will go.
Caravans started in 1951 for several reasons. The experience of going to Mexico and Central America like no tourist had ever done before. There was the extension of the persona of Wally Byam.
Since the 1st Caravan was open to all makes it wasn’t just an advertising tool for Airstream. I believe it was more to promote that you can travel in your own home in a foreign land, with safety, security, and camaraderie.
How much pomp and circumstance went on at those events?
What events? If we are talking about foreign Caravans, suits, ties and dresses when meeting Mayors, Emperors, and Governors. The presentation of Americans to dignitaries was and is a very serious matter. In fact the presentation of Caravanner’s to dignitaries was always formal
if a unit or car broke down, how much hands-on repairs was done by the participants?
In Africa most all repairs were done within the Caravan family.
I realize life was quite different then but I am trying to overlay, in my mind, the original group and the existing group.
I have recently, this century, had a few activities at International Rallies, local rallies, and the 50th anniversary dedication in Nova Scotia.
The basics haven’t changed. People love the tradition of Airstream, the Club, and many friendships that they have made. It is a tribute to the Membership to have maintained the intent of the Club by the founding members.
We all must understand that Airstream owners, not Airstream, founded the Club. Many of the traditions that have been maintained go back to the roots of the early Membership. Maybe like the separation of Church and State in the Government; the traditions exist to separate WBCCI, from trailer park residents.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
Herb, I hope I have answered your questions. Many smiles, many miles, looking forward to seeing you on the road. You might consider coming to the February rally in San Antonio. Pee Wee.