I found a place to thrive with mural painting opportunities at motor home rallies. The timing was right. This was the beginning of the motorhome buying craze. Many retired folks sold their homes to become full-timers. I discovered these rigs were clumped up at a rally somewhere almost every week. Through my new friends at Fleetwood, I found out about more of these gatherings. The new American Eagle motorhomes had arrived on the scene and because the transom was blank, just about every owner wanted a painting of an eagle across the back.
Fleetwood rallies were held in convenient locations across the Midwest. I could always stop in Decatur and get a project or two. By September, I had plans to head south with the livestock but not to Florida. In October, I headed for Fort Valley, Georgia because the Blue Bird Wanderlodge Rally was next. Prior to the big rally, every campsite at the Bird’s Nest was full. I got busy. I painted special custom inscriptions and images of all kinds for these people. When the time came for the big rally, everyone moved over to the Georgia National Fairgrounds at nearby Perry.
This huge complex had been built with an infrastructure to provide hundreds of motorhomes with 50-amp electric service. There was also a huge coliseum for formal dinners and special presentations. I stayed busy outdoors the whole time. I had found a place to thrive as a lettering man, mural artist and gold leaf gilder.
During the four-day event, I satisfied as many requests as I could. I also mentioned to these people I would be at River Ranch for the winter season. I paid attention to where my customers were from. With a little advance planning, I could visit those who lived in the Midwest next spring when I returned north. A little at a time I used the mentality of a circus man. From the requests received, I put together a logical sequence that became my upcoming route.
After the rally, I returned to the Bird’s Nest and stayed busy for a couple more weeks. As the pace changed, I had time to get plugged into my AA community and become immersed in the rich regional qualities.
During this time, I hung out with Robert and even attended the church of his family. At church I met his dad Buddy who I usually sat with.
The company Chaplin also attended this church and regularly invited me to join him and his wife for Sunday dinner. At their home I was introduced to peach pickles, pickled okra and scuppernong. Fort Valley became a regular stop for the month of October for many years. Each year I became more familiar with its vast treasures. Fort Valley and the Luce family left a positive imprint on my heart.