vanning experience all started in April 1978 when I purchased my
neighbor’s 1976 Chevy Van. I had been reading all the vanning
magazines that were out at the time – Truckin, etc. Times were
good back then. A lot of van shops with flairs, running boards, sun
roofs, bay windows, even Sears, got into the act by selling vanning
accessories. Having 3 stepchildren and a dog played into how the van
would be built. Went to a junkyard and bought a bench seat with
brackets, had the brackets welded in and now the kids had a place to
sit, and the best part was the bench seat was removable. Insulation,
paneling and carpet were next, plus a full-sized bed in the back.
The outside was painted black and two years of sitting out in the
wintry weather did a job on the paint.
the van painted charcoal gray, added a sun visor and rally wheels
– now I felt we were ready to go! But – go where?
read about two van clubs that were close by – Three Rivers Vans
(TRV) in Pittsburgh and Custom Coaches from McKeesport, PA. At the
time I worked for US Steel in McKeesport so maybe this is the club.
Waiting in line for the 3:00 whistle to go home, one of my
co-workers was wearing a Custom Coaches shirt. We talked about the
club and I told him about my van. By this time, it was the Fall of
’78. He told me about a van event that they were going to put on
at the end of October called Halloween Holocaust. I attended and
having won the 50/50 and a few door prizes, I was hooked! I applied
for membership and was accepted. Wow – I’m in heaven! Halloween
Holocaust II in ’79 and now I’m a member helping to put on this
forward to July 1980 – growing tired of the cold and snow, we
decided to vacation in Florida and see if this would be a good place
to live. Hooked again! By September 1980, we had a place in Sunrise,
kids in school, it’s all coming together. Now I need to find a van
club in Florida. Eventually, I found Vans of Ft. Liquordale and
joined the club. Our first get-together was July 1981 at Knights Key
by the Seven Mile Bridge. Can you see my connection – Halloween
event plus the Keys!
the years, I became the President of the Club putting on Keys ’83
with help from Broward Chapter at Fiesta Key, ’85 at Fiesta Key
then ’87 with flyers out, we were informed that they didn’t want
us there anymore. Long story not worth writing about, looked for
another campground and found Sunshine Key home to the ’87 event
and many more after.
home from ’95 Nats, the 1976 Van with 200,000 miles was still
running strong, stopped to get a beverage at a local store and
picked up a copy of Cars & Trucks for sale. There it was –
1987 GMC Hi-Top loaded! Just getting back from the Nats is not the
best financial time to buy a van. Cash advance on a credit card and
it was mine. Gave the ’76 van to my step-daughter in North
Carolina and continued vanning with my dog, Stormy, and myself.
years later, I finally asked a girl out from our local Pittsburgh
Club. Her first experience with vanning
was the Pig Roast in ’97. She was hooked on vanning immediately
and that was the start of Maggi Mae.
had so much fun since Rich retired a few years ago, making it to
several Nat’s and CofC’s in New Orleans this year. Wow, did
Florida show up. Everywhere we went from the trolleys to Bourbon
Street to the Casino to the local restaurants near the hotel, we ran
into vanners. Even funnier, we had a vanner from Ohio on our flight
home to Ft. Liquordale Talk about a round-about way to get home to
Ohio from New Orleans!
personally have met so many wonderful people in vanning that I now
consider true friends. I don’t know what I would do without you
guys. Who knew I would thoroughly enjoy sleeping in a van and
‘roughing it’ in the middle of nowhere with a great group of
people. Looking forward to many more years and memories.
you all, Maggi Mae and Spooky Tooth.