I motored north with my entire entourage in the spring. I stopped in Fort Valley, Georgia and placed my portfolio of work created over the winter on display at the Bird’s Nest. Two Wanderlodge owners intercepted me and described the inscriptions they wanted on their coaches. I jumped right on those projects. I also found out about the upcoming Blue Bird motorhome rallies. I made plans to participate at one rally in central Tennessee early summer. Then I resumed my trip.
During those days I used an answering service; a company where my phone number rang. They jotted down each message received and a phone number for me to call back. Having a phone number became necessary when I launched my sign business in Jackson. Now the service became especially valuable as I served the itinerate motorhome clientele.
I received a phone call from Decatur, Indiana. When I returned the call, I discovered the caller had found out about me through a couple who visited River Ranch. Randy wanted me to stop by the Fleetwood RV plant to paint an eagle on a brand-new motorhome for one of their guests.
“Yes, I will be happy to do that,” I stated, “but I have a request.”
“I need a place to stable my horse and mule.”
“No problem,” came the reply, “one of our guys has trotting horses.”
I then received directions to an old farm south of Van Wert. The next day I arrived at Jeff’s farm, got the stock settled and parked the rig. Jeff filled me in on the details. I made preparations to go to work with my new friend. Early the next day, I made the commute with Jeff to the Fleetwood plant.
The flagship of the Fleetwood RV fleet up until that time was the ’Limited’ a medium size, gas-powered motorhome. Fleetwood had just developed their first forty-foot diesel-pusher and named the new product line: the ‘American Eagle.’ The transom of this coach had a big blank spot. Among the first customers who bought this state-of-the-art motorhome off the assembly line was a customer who wanted an airbrushed mural of an eagle on the back.
Although the vast Fleetwood operation covered hundreds of acres in several locations around Decatur, the service facility where customers brought units in for repair was a small four stall building. A dozen technicians scrambled to complete a variety of projects while I received orientation for this project. Soon my step ladders and work plank were set up behind a motorhome. I got the surface cleaned and scuffed. I made the colors I would use. Soon I was up on the plank laying out what became the first eagle of many created for this genre of coach owners.
I started with the depiction of sky and mountains. When complete I worked on the details of the eagle. When the image was complete, I had a concern about spraying clear-coat in the service bays but Randy assured me that would be just fine. I sprayed on the clear protective layer. The bays were filled with the fog of my efforts. All the doors were open anyway and the breeze pushed the cloud away. The customer beamed. He was pleased with the results and my reputation received a big jump start with this segment of the RV community that day.
I found out about a Fleetwood rally that would take place early fall in the Smokey mountains and made plans to attend. After bidding my new friends’ adieu, I returned to Jeff’s farm. I made the last of my preparations, loaded the livestock and headed north.