Yet he knew perfectly well that only a small percentage of his Airstream owners could go on very many caravans. Most of them would do the majority of their travel by trailer to places closer to home, family and responsibilities.
He was thus enormously pleased in 1955 when a group of his followers actually beat him to the next logical step; they founded a club of their own which would “localize” caravanning and put it on a year round basis. Of course, they named it after him.
The Wally Byam Caravan Club is now one of the largest clubs in trailering, and it is a remarkable tribute to Wally. It demonstrates once more, and in an excellent way, the effect he had upon those around him. Most men would have insisted upon controlling the club; Wally let his followers keep control.
The WBCC (now WBCCI) has greatly added to the wealth of trailering experiences. Experiences? The temptation is to use the world “thrills” but that would imply cheap, sensational events of the moment. Wally Byam was against such things. Instead, he offered deeper, more lasting satisfactions through experiences of substance and meaning.
Trailering, as practiced by Wally and his followers, has always been more than the pursuit of mere superficial pleasures. It has always been above and beyond what the psychiatrists call the “pleasure principle”.
There never was a Wally Byam caravan that wouldn’t stop in the midst of having fun to take up a collection for some orphanage somewhere, to collect a pile of “surplus” canned goods for a village whose crop had failed, to drop off clothing, school supplies or books.
Does the point need belaboring? Of course not, nor does the related point that Wally Byam caravanners and club members have always been more than a group of Americans out for a good time, whether here at home or in a foreign country.
This is the way Wally wanted it, and this - greatly expanded and multiplied by his Airstream caravanners - is the way it shall be.
(The above story was written by Frank Palmer following the death of Wally Byam in 1962.)
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