Brief History Leading To the Formation Of The Big Bend Florida Unit
1974 – 1975
By Harlen L. (Mac) McCauslin
Although the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, Inc. had been in existence for some 20 years, the Airstream owners in the Big Bend area around Tallahassee Florida did not have a unit of the club in their geographical area of Florida through the years, but even the most recent ones were centered a considerable distance from the Tallahassee area.
In late 1970 when we purchased our first Airstream trailer, we investigated the possibility of joining a unit of WBCCI. We contacted two Florida units and the South Georgia Unit. After delaying some months we finally decided to join the South Georgia Unit because the center of its activities seemed to be in the Moultrie, Georgia area. During the first year that we belonged to the South Georgia Unit we attended one Fall Rally and one Buddy Rally. We soon realized that such activities were not necessarily planned for working people in that we missed most of the activities by having to wait until after work on Friday night to attend.
For the next several years we maintained our membership in WBCCI through the South Georgia Unit but confined our camping to holidays and weekends, sometimes alone and other times with another camping club we had joined. During this period we talked with many Airstream owners from the Tallahassee area and the question usually arose as to why we couldn’t have a WBCCI Unit in our own area.
On one such occasion, after meeting Mr. Henry Wooster, I decided to write WBCCI Headquarters to get an answer to our question. This letter, written to Mr. R. F. Watson, at that time the Executive Secretary of WBCCI, on June 28, 1974 was the first positive action taken toward the formation of a WBCCI Unit in the Tallahassee area.
Mr. Watson’s reply on July 24, 1974, included detailed information concerning the requirements for forming a Unit as well as the name and address of the Region III President, William Sharpe, through whom we were instructed to work in forming a unit.
WBCCI Unit in the Tallahassee/North Florida area was sent to 41 known Airstream owners (this letter was eventually mailed to a total of 64 Airstream owners). Each person was asked to return a self-addressed card indicating their interest in forming such a unit. At the same time a letter was mailed to the Region III President Mr. Sharpe and to Mr. James B. Sexton, President of the South Georgia Unit to inform them of the action we were taking.
August 23, 1974
Sufficient cards had been returned to indicate that there were enough people interested in the formation of a new unit to justify holding an organizational meeting. Letters were sent to 33 Airstream owners who had returned cards, announcing that an organizational meeting would be held on September 11, 1974.
Twenty-five families were represented at the organizational meeting with an additional eleven indicating by letter or phone that they would be unable to make the meeting but would like to be included on the petition for a charter to the WBCCI, International Board of Directors. Of the twenty-five attending the meeting, twenty-three agreed to be included on the petition. The name, Big Bend Florida Unit, was selected by those attending since the general area represented was the same as a recreational area identified by the Florida Department of Commerce called the Big Bend in numerous publications including the official state map of Florida. Annual dues were set at $5.00 with an initial assessment of $2.50 being agreed upon to aid in the organizational effort until 1975 dues could be collected. It was decided that the first weekend of every month would be our regular rally meeting with sites to be selected by unit vote. It was also decided that all membe3rs paying dues to the Unit prior to the receipt of our regular unit charter would be considered “Charter” members.
Officers were elected to serve until the first regular fall rally and election of officers after receipt of our Regular Unit Charter. The officers were: Harlen L. McCauslin – President, William T. Wilson – Vice President, Lee Y. Ponder – Secretary, Martha McCauslin – Treasurer.
September 12, 1974
A petition for a unit charter in the WBCCI was forwarded to Mr. Bill Sharpe, Region III President, to be forwarded to the International Board of Trustees.
October 15, 1974
We were informed by Mr. B.W. Barker, Executive Secretary – Assistant to the President, WBCCI, Inc. that our provisional charter was being issued on that date and mailed to Bill Sharpe, Region III President.
February 13, 1975
Just seven and one half months after the original letter was sent to Mr. Watson, the International Board of Trustees, at their meeting in Harlingen, Texas approved our application for a regular charter. The Charter was issued on that date and forwarded to us through the Region III President.
April 18, 1975
We were informed that our constitution and by-laws, which were adopted in January, were approved by the Constitution and By-Laws Committee, WBCCI on March 18, 1975.
May 2, 1975
We were informed by letter from Mr. Barker, Executive Secretary, WBCCI that our request for use of the WBCCI insignia on the “Big Bender”, our newsletter, was approved.