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Published: Thursday, 5/26/2005

Rallying Airstream owners revel in sleek, wheeled homes

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jack Glouner of Naples, Fla., prepares to raise Old Glory after parking his Airstream at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds. Jack Glouner of Naples, Fla., prepares to raise Old Glory after parking his Airstream at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds.
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FREMONT - Scott Scheuermann's family heirloom sleeps four in comfort and tows nicely behind his 1965 Chrysler Imperial.

The 42-year-old Cleveland-area man is the proud owner of a 1960 Airstream Overlander, a silver, bullet-shaped trailer that his grandfather bought new for the then-princely sum of $5,500.

"My parents would borrow the trailer from my grandfather every summer for two weeks during my dad's vacation," Mr. Scheuermann said, standing in the doorway of the 26-foot camper with his wife, Lise, and 3-year-old son, Steven. "I've had wonderful memories with this ... We're hoping to be able to pass it on to him when we're too old."

REG airstream25p 03 - The sleek Airstream look of the trailer is plentiful at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds gathering of the Region 4 airstream rally. The Blade/Allan Detrich REG airstream25p 03 - The sleek Airstream look of the trailer is plentiful at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds gathering of the Region 4 airstream rally. The Blade/Allan Detrich
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The Scheuermanns have plenty of company in their devotion to Airstreams and the joys of traveling by camper. They're among an estimated 300 people with more than 150 trailers and motor homes who are visiting Fremont this week for a regional gathering of Airstream owners at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds.

Airstream, which builds all its campers in the west-central Ohio town of Jackson Center, is best known for its sleek, rounded aluminum trailers, which have been built in the same style since the mid 1930s. But the company also builds mammoth fiber-glass motor homes that bear little resemblance to the trailers and their famous aerodynamic shape.

Ownership of an Airstream trailer or motor home entitles an RV enthusiast to membership in the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, named for the man who invented the Airstream trailer in the 1920s.

The club, divided into regions across the United States and Canada, offers an extensive schedule of rallies, and its 14,000 members are welcome to drop by any event that has room for them, said Daryl Ewles, a past international president who has participated in an Airstream caravan to Alaska and tours of Michigan that visit all the state's lighthouses.

Blue skies and a lush carpet of grass help Raymond Mills, left, and Ken Hunter, with canine pal
Candy, enjoy the regional rally of Airstream owners at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds. Blue skies and a lush carpet of grass help Raymond Mills, left, and Ken Hunter, with canine pal Candy, enjoy the regional rally of Airstream owners at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds.
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"We enjoy the travel, and probably 90 percent of our friends are Airstreamers," Mr. Ewles said.

He and his wife, Myrna, are from Livonia, Mich., but they don't live there anymore. Instead, the retirees' permanent residence is the 39-foot Airstream Land Yacht they bought new in 2001 for $220,000.

Since then, they've logged 67,000 miles in their motor home, which includes a full bath, a kitchen with Corian countertops, and a television with a DVD player and satellite reception.

"By mid June, we'll be in Springfield, Mo.," Mr. Ewles said, referring to the site of this year's international rally, scheduled from June 28 to July 4. "A month ago, we were in Oklahoma."

For some enthusiasts, belonging to the club is the main reason for owning an Airstream in the first place.

"It's the club and the people in the club," said Lucille Hewer, of Macomb, Mich., relaxing on a leather couch with her husband, Norm, in their 34-foot 2002 Airstream Limited trailer. "It's not the vehicle. The vehicle is the ticket to get in the club."

The cost of that ticket varies widely. While the Hewers paid $75,000 for their camper new, Roland and Pat Jenkins, of Columbus, bought a 1974 Airstream trailer two summers ago at an estate sale for $4,000.

They then spent the rest of the year refurbishing the 25-foot trailer, which sat unused for two decades. Since then, they've logged about 8,000 miles on trips to Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas.

"Having an Airstream is like having a Mercedes," Mrs. Jenkins said. "Nothing is cheap. But it rides like a Mercedes. And the other thing about Airstreams is that the people are great."

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.



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