Yesterday I was talking with a co-worker of mine and mentioned how excited I am for the 2010 RV season to begin so Deke and I can take advantage of all the events the WBCCI has planned. His response was: I hadn’t realized that the primary purpose of owning an Airstream was to spend time with other Airstreams.
I guess in a way, I hadn’t realized that either.
We received our WBCCI identification number in the mail a few weeks ago…..it’s the big red number you sometimes see on the forehead of trailers or motorhomes that belong to club members. Before we bought ours, we often wondered what they meant and by the looks of the number of postings about them on Airforums.com, a lot of other people wonder too. The numbers are utilitarian and symbolic and are not to be messed with (take note those of you who just want to paint numbers on your model or affix your own random numbers). The practice of numbering the trailers was adopted by Wally Byam as a way of recognizing members from a distance on those long caravans (he was #1 of course). After you join the club, you’re assigned a number and that number stays with you, and moves with you throughout the years – it can be transferred to new Airstream models as you trade up or scale down your home on wheels. Our number is 5 digits, and with the help of Sue Chestnut, Northern Illinois Unit Treasurer, we got one that’s easy for us to remember: 17707. One is easy enough to remember, and followed by the day we got married, we shouldn’t have any problems telling people what number we are. Technically, its 17,707 – but the numbers in the club go much higher. That’s a lot of Airstream members who have joined, caravanned and made the most of their experiences in the WBCCI.
When I got the WBCCI club directory, one of the first things I did was look up who had the lowest number. Whether or not this person is the first official recipient of the number or it was passed on to them*, there’s something very romantic about imagining what the rallies were like when everyone had two digits.
As for the numbers themselves, keep in mind that in the age of vinyl letter cut-outs, instant banners and wall decals, these numbers are unlike anything we’ve seen. Their font is unusual, but does come up as the “Airstream” font (http://www.urbanfonts.com/fonts/Airstream.htm), and not all the numbers seemed to be the same size when we got them. They’re incredibly angular and severe which is only magnified by being fire engine red. The thought of putting up 5 numbers in perfect alignment on a surface 9 feet up that wasn’t even flat did not have a promising ending, but we managed. Getting the numbers on the Airstream seemed a bit of a production as we read through the two page instructions that came in the envelope. In the end we learned that water is the key – probably the opposite of what you’d think.
The Weasel looks a little different now that she has a number, but it also makes her look like a member of the team – kind of like a number on a sports jersey. In our little Airstream community, I’m glad people will know we belong to the club and I look forward to the conversations I’ll have with others about what rallies I’ve been on. I’ll keep the WBCCI directory handy on trips so that when we pass someone or see someone in a park with a number, we’ll be able to look them up and see where they’re from as well. There’s a camaraderie about all this that I look forward to.
* If you let your membership lapse you lose your number. It then gets recycled back into the mix for the next person to use. If you buy a used Airstream, you might be able to see the remnants of the old number and be able to find out who owned it in the past.