There are countless car clubs around the country. There are sports car clubs, classic car clubs, military vehicle clubs, woodie clubs, clubs that celebrate single marques like the Mustang, the Hudson, the Corvette, the Henry J, and all things Chevy, heck, there is even probably a Tatra club (in case that is a marque foreign to you, it is ,or would be ---if it exists. I don’t know; none shows up--- a club devoted to what Wikipedia calls this Czech Republic beauty,-- beauty of course being in the eye of the beholder, you understand,-- the third oldest car company in the world. Further research reveals the 1941 Tatra was the New York Times 2011 Collectible Car of the Year. Will wonders never cease? Stick with me; I’m a fountain of useless knowledge),
Some clubs have a brief half-life, starting with great enthusiasm and professed dedication to working for success, but soon weak and anemic, gradually fading and then, “poof”, gone. Some last what seems like forever, with origins that go back to the Roaring Twenties.
I was recently reflecting on this phenomena, taking a welcome break from the challenging task of trying to get the bb’s into the bear’s eyes, and asking myself what are some of the characteristics that distinguish the winners from the losers, those that have their brief hour on the stage and those who continue on and on, like the Energizer Bunny.
A few things occurred to me that those active and vital clubs possess that the others probably don’t. Likely you can add to this list, or even correct it. The following are in no order of importance. They are just whatever flashes through my synapses and that I am able to wrestle to the ground and hold for a few moments.
First thought. Size doesn’t always matter. I have observed some really small clubs that continue to prosper, but there is probably a number that is too small, burdening a willing few to the multiple tasks to the point that they are overwhelmed and finally collapse in exhaustion. There are probably some clubs that are so large one feels like a cog in a machine. Enough folks to spread the work so all can be engaged and still have some free time to permit the idle wandering and interminable techno talk seems to be the hallmark of vigorous clubs. Our group, with its 100 plus members, seems a comfortable fit.
Next, a clear sense of purpose. Whatever the nature of the group, it must be able to “make the main thing the main thing,” without diverting their intent to the point that members become puzzled as to “What are we here for?” Our group is fortunate to know its purpose is to preserve the British marques and to enjoy their use, together, and to share them with others who might not be quite as obsessive as we are.
Surely, leadership. There are lots of ways a group can be led. A single strong leader, leadership shared by a small group, leadership rising from the membership of the group, and even leaderless groups where every member assumes responsibility for the direction of the group. We have in PBCA have been lucky to have had at various time and for various functions, examples of all these forms of leadership, but we have always had presidents, like recently, Mickey Kay, Tom Keyser, and Curt Derby, and in the past like Bob Henson and Tom Schmitz, who served with distinction. Current president Bob Manske, despite all the taunts and abuse (delivered mainly, and unjustly, by myself), continues to rise above the ordinary, and has promoted one of our most vigorous years of activity. We owe a debt to all these leaders.
A necessity--the hard-core cadre. Every group of which I have been a member has had a number of members who mainly sit and watch, another group who dip their feet in the water frequently enough that they share some of the work and make other contributions, and another group that provides most of the group’s direction, does most of the work, and keeps the group alive. We at PBCA are lucky to have members like Rich and Darla Willow, Gus and Ann Fell, Bob and Margaret Henson,, Midge and Curt Derby, Bill and Donna Weeks, Mike and Cherie Japp, Mickey and Kay Kay, Gordon and Diane Levy, Jeff and Marie Olive, Ralph and Peggy Overly, Keith Sanders, Mickey McNair (yes, the much maligned Major carries his end of the log), Bill and Melissa Silhan, Don and Marie Warnecke, Ralph and Peggy Overly, and the list goes on. It could be much longer, and I am reluctant to even make such a list for fear of giving offense by omission. Please forgive me for not recognizing all who contribute so much.
Notice that I included lots of couples in the list of contributors. It seems to me especially powerful and beneficial for any organization which can draw on the interest and diligence of both partners in a family, in addition to whatever personal enjoyment the couples might take from doing something pleasurable together. Furthermore, every healthy group needs at least one person who, over the years, serves as the communicator and connecting thread. He or she keeps everyone posted about what is going on, reminds us of what has gone on in the past, and serves as the corporate memory. For our group, that person has been Tom Schmitz, assisted by his wife, Jeannie. Tom has been with PBCA since its formation, does all those knitting-together tasks admirably, and has provided leadership by serving in almost every office of the organization, including president. Working together with the talented Mike Japp, they do an admirable job of keeping the electronic channels, especially the web page, open. Every group needs a wise old man. Tom is ours. (Tom, can I borrow your new Mini?)
But enough of that. You can think of things omitted, or over-emphasized. Still, perhaps this list, and your additional thinking, will help you assess the temperature, check the heartbeat, and look for other signs of vitality in your club, and perhaps even shore up some areas which need improving.
On Saturday, June 25, PBCA members and friends will gather in Lillian for the Sweet Home Cheese Farm and Big Daddy’s Lunch Run, which by its very name involves a visit to the great Cheese Farm and lunch at Big Daddy’s restaurant. Between the two destinations will be several miles of great driving in this south Alabama countryside. This has been a popular event in the past and promises much the same enjoyment this year. Your loyal correspondent will be there, driving his pristine TR7 (the TR6 lacks the necessary air conditioning now that we are in the summer of our discontent, with temperatures hovering around 100 and the next hurricane lurking like Dracula in the wings). More about this in next month’s Marque, and I promise some pictures if I can get the Brownie Hawkeye to crank.Big Deal
July is the month when PBCA takes a break from its normal monthly meeting schedule and replaces it with an event that has become a tradition in the club, and a looked-forward special treat for some area invited clubs and friends. That is the 16th Annual Pig Roast, sponsored by Tom and Jeannie Schmitz at their home in Lillian, Alabama. PBCA members, plus Marti Gras MG’s, the South Alabama British Sports Car Club (SABCC), and the Austin- Healey Club of Pensacola, as well as some old friends from various clubs, will gather for a grand feast on Sunday, July 17 for bbq pig plus other viands that would make a Roman emperor salivate.
|"Pig Roast Guests chow down around the pool under the observant eye of the resident alligator (his rubber teeth don't bite!"|
|"Photo from the 2009 Pig Roast. In next month's photos of the July 17, 2011, Pig Roast, the "Guest of Honor" will appear just as fat and tasty, but host Tom will be greatly reduced in appearance."|
|"The front driveway and front yard are reserved for a display of the attendees' LBCs."|
|"Over 85 guests line up for the vast variety of salads, side dishes, desserts and pork at a previous Roast."|
We will resume our regularly scheduled monthly PBCA meetings on August 15, when Mike Bamford will lead us in “Surveying Your British Car.” That promises to be a bell ringer.
We erroneously reported the winner of the Longest Distance Driven Award. The correct information is that there were two Longest Distance Driven winners.
Charles and Perky Long won the Award for Longest Distance Driven directly to the show. They drove their 1966 MGB from McDonald TN to the show.
A special “Round About” Longest Distance Driven Award was given to Allen and Susan Bradley, who drove their 1970 MGB from Metairie, LA to Key West, FL to the show in Pensacola and return to Metairie. At the show, they displayed a detailed map of their route, mileage, and all their stops along the way.
Congratulations are extended to all these intrepid voyagers.
See you next month and we constantly wish you happy driving and just enough mechanical failures to make it always interesting.