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Old 06-19-2014, 01:02 PM   #1
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Tyler , Texas
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1961-1963 WBCCI Directories - Airstream History - JFK Use of Airstream

I am trying to locate 1961-1963 WBCCI membership directories. Would anyone have a copy that may be for sale? At this time I am documenting the ownership of my parents trailer, WBCCI #5767, and one of these directories would certainly help in my efforts.

As a little back ground and reasoning for seeking this information. In 1963 my parents Airstream was used by the Federal Government as the temporary White House when President John F. Kennedy visited White Sands Missile Range, NM on June 5 ,1963 to view some test firings of some missiles. Their trailer seems to have some significance as far as Airstream history is concerned and I am looking for supporting documentation. Any assistance would be appreciated.
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Old 06-22-2014, 02:56 AM   #2
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I do not have copies to sell, but I have the Directories you are asking about and can provide information from them. #5767 was first assigned by the club in 1961. It first appears in the 1962 Membership Directory that was published at the start of 1962 reflecting membership at the end of 1961.

In the 1962, 1963, 1964, & 1965 Directories, #5767 is listed to H.E. & Margaret Armstrong, 2511 Altura Ave, El Paso, Tx. No numbered caravans are listed. The Armstrongs are not listed in the Courtesy Parking, Citizens Band Club Member, nor Amateur Radio Club Member sections of the Directories.

In the 1966 Directory, your parents number and last name appear in the numerical listings section, but they are not listed in the alphabetical listings. This most often indicates a late membership renewal, after the alphabetical listings were compiled, but before the numerical listings were compiled, which occurred last.

I am missing the 1967 Directory. In the 1968 Directory (membership as of late 1967), #5767 has been reassigned to a Jon W. & Fern Uekert of Albuquerque, NM. The Uekerts are last listed in the 1985 Directory, still in Albuquerque, no caravans listed.

#5767 was next reassigned in the 1989 Directory to a couple from Canada.

Given that El Paso to Albuquerque is about 270 miles, it is possible that the Uekerts bought your parents Airstream after they left the club and were assigned the same number that was already on their trailer. Of course if family records indicate your parents did not sell their Airstream until sometime in 1968 or later, it would disprove this theory. And if your parents did sell their Airstream in 1966 or 1967, it is clearly not certain that they sold it to the Uekerts, because the club does not keep records of the actual Airstreams owned by members and open numbers could be reassigned to any new member.

That's all I can turn up in Membership Directories.

I have one more document that sheds a little more light on the event you mention, though. I have a copy of the July 1963 Caravanner newspaper that has 4 photographs from President Kennedy's visit to the White Sands Missile Range.

There is no big story, but there are four photos with long captions. Three of the four photos show Airstream trailers.

One photo caption notes that pairs of Airstreams that served as temporary Hospital shelters and offices during a series of weapons tests were situated at three widely separated locations on the vast missile range, suggesting that a total of six Airstreams participated in this event.

Another photo caption mentions that the trailers were supplied by Ed Shenk, Airstream Dealer in El Paso, Tx. Since WBCCI numbers can be seen on some of the Airstreams in the photos, it would seem that he arranged for club members to bring their trailers rather than providing all of them himself off the sales lot.

In one of the photos #5767 can be made out on the front of an Airstream, but from that angle I cannot tell the year and model. Based upon the other Airstream in the same photo bearing a Red Cross and likely a Hospital sign, and no red cross on the front of #5767, we might guess that your parents trailer may have served as an office at one of the three locations.

In yet another photo, the president is seen stepping out of what I believe to be a 1961 or 1962 22' Safari Twin Bed Airstream made in California with a Hospital sign on the side. From the side profile there is no way to see the WBCCI number on that trailer. The photo caption notes that the president used that Airstream as his temporary office during his visit. Being marked as a Hospital trailer makes it seem unlikely that he was walking out of your parents Airstream.

Do you know the year, length, and model of Airstream that your parents owned?

Anyway, that is all the information I can turn up in my records. Hope it helps.
Wally Byam Caravan Club International Historian
Vintage Airstream Club Historian
WBCCI/VAC #702 & #6768

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Old 06-23-2014, 08:13 AM   #3
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Thank you very much for the info you provided.

My parents did sell the 30' Airstream to the Uekert's back in the early 1960s. I would say it was around 1964-65 timeframe when it was sold. The Uekert family was stationed at Ft. Bliss, TX when they bought the trailer.

The trailer made its way to a small community outside of Albuquerque, NM where it spent many years sitting on some land. It was sold to someone a few years ago by the Uekert family, but they do not remember the name or town where the trailer was taken. Once I located the whereabouts of the trailer about three years ago, I called the Uekerts to see if they would be interested in selling the trailer. But sadly to say, I was too late and the trailer was taken elsewhere by the new owner.

As far as JFK using WBCCI #5767 as the temporary White House at White Sands Missile Range is true since I was present as a child and spoke with President John Kennedy as he sat inside the trailer for a few minutes. My parents and older brother were present as well and Mr. Kennedy thanked us for allowing him to us the trailer even for a few minutes. The president later sent a plaque to my parents commemorating the occasion and it was mounted on a cabinet inside the trailer. That plaque was removed by the Uekert family when they sold the trailer. The plaque's whereabouts is unknown and apparently been misplaced by the Uekert family.

You are correct in naming Col. Ed Shenk as the individual who coordinated the use of Airstream trailers. He owed the Airstream dealership in El Paso, TX for many years and his son Mike took it over for a few more years until the business was closed back sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s. As I remember, the business was called "Land Yacht Trailer Sales" and was quite successful when Ed ran the business.

Also you would be correct about the Armstrongs not being listed in the Courtesy Parking, Citizens Band Club Member, nor Amateur Radio Club Member sections of the Directories. They were only members of the WBCCI.

Finally, #5767 was a 1963 30' Airstream (Sovereign) built at the Anaheim, CA factory. I don't believe the Anaheim facility exists anymore and has probably been closed for well in excess of 20-25 years....probably even longer.

Again, thank you for your information and effort to respond. I appreciate the time you took to look things up for me.
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:39 AM   #4
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As you know the numbers are signed to the owners, not the trailers. This is an interesting thread, hope you get all the info you need, especially that plaque! Jim
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