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EXSTREAM RVS



Published: Fri, October 8, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Three days in a 23-by 8-foot metal box could be a jail sentence.

But it is a luxury vacation in an Airstream, the toaster-shaped travel trailers with the shiny silver skin, devotees say.

Every month during warm weather, the Mahoning Valley Unit of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International take to the road to enjoy camping, companionship and the Airstream lifestyle at a rally within a day's drive.

And once a year they even have a buddy rally, where owners of less-esteemed RVs can come along for the ride.

To celebrate anniversary

The group will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a luncheon at Avalon Inn in Howland on Sunday.

"It is just like being in a family," said Nancy Lawrence, a past president of the local club, who, with her husband, Tom, has owned a half-dozen Airstreams over the years.

The couple now has a 23-foot model from 1972, which they plan to restore, and a 1997 motor home, which Nancy said is probably worth more than their Warren home.

"The Airstream still has an air of prestige because if its history," she said. "It is a very quality-type of RV."

Lawyer and magazine publisher Wally Byam began producing Airstream trailers in his Los Angeles back yard in the late 1920s. The company survived the Depression, closed down briefly during World War II, then re-opened to produce what became an American icon.

In the 50s, Byam led touring caravans of Airstreams on trips abroad that highlighted his particular role as the pied piper of romantic travel. To this day, many Airstreamers still have the "Wally Byam Creed" posted in their RV's, said Midge Anderson of Ashtabula, a member or the local club.

The creed

The dream Byam leaves to his followers, the creed says, is: "To lead caravans wherever the four winds blow... over twinkling boulevards, across trackless deserts... to the traveled and untraveled corners of the earth."

This year, the local club, which counts about two dozen members, sponsored trips to Sauder Village and Columbus. There was a regional rally in West Virginia, and the national in Michigan.

"We have a good time, good fellowship," said local president Bob White, of Austintown.

siff@vindy.com




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