Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wally Byam Club Visits the American Legion in Crisfield

In 1985, I went on a one week assignment with another photographer to the Adirondacks to do a shoot on the Wally Byam Club for the Smithsonian Magazine. It was the most amazing event I have ever seen. In one day, the members of the club set up an entire city consisting of 4,000 Airstreams, along with their own post office, medical team, police, and communications system (no cell phones in those days). They brought out measuring tapes to make sure that each Airstream was parked in exactly the proper manner and at the right angle. I was impressed. I wanted an Airstream. I wanted to be a member of the Wally Byam Club and travel the world - they do travel the world. I wanted a Bambi, the little darling of the models.

Spending a week back in '85 with such wonderful people who invited us into their homes was a real treat. They treated us like family. I was in awe to see the workmanship inside those silvery domed rolling homes - some even had organs. The Airstream is truly the cream of the crop when it comes to traveling. And the people who drive them are some of the finest people I have ever met.

Recently, I was shooting a feature for the newspaper on the beach in Crisfield. I looked towards the American Legion where I saw a small caravan of Airstreams set up along the waterfront. I was like a kid in a candy shop. Airstreamers are infectious people; always happy, accommodating, and they have a twinkle of adventure in their eyes. Once you spend some time with them and their magic carpet with wheels, you can never pass an Airstream on the road without feeling like you are seeing an old friend.

I ran over to talk to the people who had come down from Delaware for a sock hop the following evening, and to take some photos with the little time I had left to get my photo back to the newspaper. Unfortunately, most of the people had gone into town to do some shopping.

I chatted with this member for a few minutes.

Then, I chatted with his wife. He is cutting up with her, pouring water on her head

I had an assignment the next night so I did not make it to the sock hop, but I dropped by and caught a halfway decent sunset. No time for tripod shooting. For you photo bugs out there, I had to use a high ISO, a low shutter speed, and hold my breath. The sun sunk on me like a lead balloon. Sometimes I think the sun was created just for Airstreams. With a tripod and a little time, you can get some spectacular sunrise and sunset photos.


When the sun set, I captured a shot of some of the members enjoying a fire. Sorry I could not stay long on either of my visits, but assignments and deadlines were looming. I really would have loved to have spent a few hours with the lovely folks and their rolling homes.

I never got my Airstream, but I have always loved the quote by Wally:

"Don’t stop. Keep right on going. Hitch up your trailer and go to Canada or down to Old Mexico. Head for Europe, if you can afford it, or go to the Mardi Gras. Go someplace you’ve heard about, where you can fish or hunt or collect rocks or just look up at the sky. Find out what’s at the end of some country road. Go see what’s over the next hill, and the one after that, and the one after that." ~Quote used with permission from the Wally Byam Club.

Several times, I have threatened to stowaway on one of the Chesapeake Boat Builder's boats. After I get back (or when they boot me off at the next port) I might set my sites on an Airstream bound for Brazil. Or Canada. Who knows?

Visit the Wally Byam site for more info. And if you have an old Bambi sitting around that needs a good home, give me a call.

Oh, and you don't need an Airstream to enjoy the beautiful sunsets at the American Legion, or anywhere else in Crisfield. On the water, there is always a million dollar view.


gigi said...

Patty, that was an amazing sunset! You are one lucky lady. I enjpyed this post.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that sunset photo is spectacular!

I let the bunny go today, he was eating and pooing and moving just fine, and I know he was wild. I wanted to believe he was tame so I could keep him, but wild animals don't belong in cages.

I admire you Patty, I cannot imagine how sad and hard that was that the bunny died in your hands. I still would have tried to rescue it too, and even though the loss is hard, it is better knowing I tried.

I don't know how Mother Nature does it.

Butler and Bagman said...

Did you pay the sky to do that? Ah...patience pays off! Nice assignment. Very weird concept.

J.L.Velez said...

Unbelievable capture of the sunset, wow, talk about being in the right place at the right time. The reflection in the trailer is just as beautiful as the actual sky!

Patty said...

Gigi: Thanks. We do have lovely skies. I don't have a lot of time to shoot them because by the end of the day, I am worn out from shooting.

Jen: I did not have my tripod (it was in my other car - bummer). I had to bump up the ISO. I wanted to shoot more but I just made it in time to get what I did. You know how fast the sun sets and rises!

Gosh, I wish I had time to be creative like you and Dan.

Butler and Bagman. I love my concept!

Patty said...

Valez: Thanks. Sunset courtesy of Mother Nature and Airstream.

Jess said...

wow, I do love that one sunset reflection picture, it's so unique! brilliant, as always, Patty.

I'd love your advice on my latest post, since you're quite the photojournalist--I did a sort of photo essay on this whole cash for clunkers program going on in my home town, took tons and tons of pictures and I'm having a hard time narrowing it down to like 6 or 7, you know, essay-size. I was hoping you could let me know which ones you think best represent a solid essay. I'd really appreciate it! It's not urgent or anything, just know you're the woman to ask! And trust me, I had a hard enough time narrowing it down to the ones I have posted!

Thanks Patty :)

Ann said...

Do they still build this Wally Byam?

Just before I left for my trip, I saw one here and it is converted to a coffee place. It was parked at the Auckland International Place.

It was the shiny metalic body that attracted me.

hensly said...

Beautiful pics Patty - as always! Don't see too many Airstreams in Hawaii though.

Patty said...

Ann: An Airstream coffee shop in Auckland. How quaint. Wally Byam is a club/organization for owners of Airstreams, not a model of Airstream.

Not everyone who owns an Airstream belongs to the Wally Byam Club. But if I ever get my Bambi (that is one of the models that Airstream makes), I am going to join up.

You can read more about the organization at the web site I listed in the post.

Patty said...

Hensly: I wouldn't suppose you have a lot of RV parks in Hawaii. Anyone know of any?

I will have to do some research on that.

Good to hear from you again. I will pop over and visit later. I have to run.