So, I took the Airstream plant tour. If you haven’t done this, you should when you can. The fabrication and assembly of these American icons is fascinating. What was even more impressive is the employee years of service. There are folks at Airstream pushing the 50-year mark with the company. Working for Airstream is a tradition of the generations for some. The “we’re one big family” attitude is obvious.
Then I dropped the first of quite a few dollars in the Wally Byam Store. From tees to hats to mats to hitch receiver covers and way more. All are a must for the consummate Airstreamer.
I spent time checking out Wally Byam Park. The man has certainly left his mark on Jackson Center. Indeed, Jackson Center would be little more than a wide spot in the road if not for Airstream.
The WBCCI headquarters are in Jackson Center just east of Airstream and right across from Wally Byam Park. I wanted to see the main office of the club that Pee Wee’s mom, Helen Byam Schwamborn, created and nurtured. This was time well spent.
It is not an elaborate ivory tower establishment. Rather, the offices and cubicles are plainly furnished. The lobby contains a number of artifacts concerning the club’s history. There is a wall hanging of ribbons from past rallies. A shadow box contains Wally’s weight distribution bars from his own trailer. Many other interesting items are there too.
There is quite a bit of activity. Cindy Reed, the corporate manager of the WBCCI, is a lovely person with a lot on her plate. Her heart is in the club and more than anything she wants to see it succeed as a benefit for its members. Diplomacy is one of her strong points and is essential for carrying out her responsibilities.
I spent some time investigating the oirignal buildings from the beginnings of Airstream in Jackson Center. My own Tradewind was built in these buildings in 1960 and left the factory through one of these doors.
Notice the Quonset hut style of the oldest building. Once upon a time a bazooka factory operated here cranking out weaponry during WWII. In 1952 Airstream bought the property and began making silver trailers in that very building. Even now, these buildings are used in the production of Airstream’s new B-Class coach, the Interstate. I love the fact that a place once turning out rocket launchers which produce the sounds of war became a thriving plant whose product is responsbile for the sounds of laughter, discovery, and adventure.
Pee Wee suggested going into nearby Sidney for supper. Sidney is an interesting town with intriguing architecture. Based on the principle of the county seat town square, the court house is surrounded by a samping of buildings representative of American design with old word influence.
Even the famous architect, Louis Henri Sullivan, designed one of the landmarks.
Supper was at the local diner, The Spot, established in 1907. The restaurant currently exudes a 50’s style and the onion rings are to die for.
The next morning the Tradewind would be towed to the Service Center by one of the John Deere’s. I had been reassured by some very important people at Airstream that there was very little that the guys in service hadn’t seen or done on a coach. Still, I settled in for the night with apprehension.