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Periodically Speaking: Family Motor Coaching

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You've seen them on the interstate highways, those big colorful buses with odd window configurations and without company markings. If you glance at the driver, you see he's no harried Ralph Kramden, but a carefree-looking middle-aged guy in a golf shirt. He's probably a reader of Family Motor Coaching, a monthly for people seeking the good life on the road. The publication is put out by the Family Motor Coach Association, an organization based in Cincinnati with 120,000 member families.

Those private buses represent the high end of the industry, and their cost can run into the upper six figures. Some of the interiors of those motor coaches are truly spectacular, and in the pages of the magazine you'll find ads for luxury housing developments that feature gigantic carports for the family bus.

But the bulk of the membership and readership rides in more modest recreational vehicles. They tend to be retired, they seek warmth in the winter, and they apparently love to congregate together.

The tone of the magazine is practical, with articles on vehicle maintenance and recipes that take into account the limited storage and access to cooking ingredients when on the road.

A good deal of the March issue of Family Motor Coaching is devoted to the Association's 77th International Convention later that month at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry. With thousands of motor homes converging on Perry, the magazine contains a slew of articles about nearby attractions.

The list of companies exhibiting their products and services at the convention provides insight into the concerns of motorhome owners: on-board air conditioning and sanitation systems, RV insurance and financing, hot water heaters, awnings, kitchen appliances, towing systems, low-maintenance travel clothing, massage units, and, of course, RV-friendly resorts and motorhome manufacturers.

The issue contains a dozen pages of small-type listings of gatherings of RV enthusiasts around the country over the next few months.

There's an interesting column in each issue called "Full-Timer's Primer." A full-timer is someone who has bravely cut off ties to a stationary home and lives only on the road. This month's column warns readers that it's getting harder to register vehicles and make financial transactions if your only address is a post office box. A couple reports that they've found some RV parks where they can work for a few hours a week and get to stay for free.

Each issue carries a column by the Association's executive director, Don Eversmann. His March column reports that membership growth has slowed recently, and he attributes it to the dip in the birth rate during World War II. This makes sense, for the average age of members is 62 to 66 years.

Eversmann dismisses "one notion that is being circulated," the idea that baby boomers are not joiners of organizations, unlike the "silent generation" that preceded it.

Family Motor Coaching is sent to members of the organization. Membership benefits are wide-ranging, and include access to numerous conventions and other gatherings, mail forwarding and group-rate emergency road service and motorhome insurance. Subscriptions are also available to non-members. The magazine is a bit staid and old-fashioned in design, but executive director Eversmann promises "a more modern, lighter format starting in May."

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