Central Indiana Unit – The Beginning
Early in Sept 1962, Mildred and Richard Voelker, called a meeting at their home to investigate forming a Chapter of the Indiana Unit. They had heard Chapters of WBCCI Units were being formed and started the ball rolling. They addressed and mailed Postal cards to everyone they could locate in the central area who would be eligible for membership.
The date set for the first meeting was September 29, 1962, and the place was Howard Johnson’s Restaurant on East Washington Street, Indianapolis. After the meal, they adjourned to the Voelker house for the meeting. Paul Towsley was temporary Chairman, and Margaret Askren took the minutes. This was their organizational meeting and there were 31 present. They wrote to the Indiana Unit requesting permission to organize a Chapter, and to National Headquarters requesting a Charter be sent to the Indiana Unit for them.
On October 13, 1962, they met again, for the first official meeting, this time at Rockville, Indiana, in conjunction with the Indiana Unit. Paul Towsley was the Presiding Officer, and election of permanent officers was held. Those elected were President, Raymond Bramblett, Vice-president, Ford Barrick, Secretary, Mildred Voelker, and Treasurer, Richard Voelker. They now had a total membership of 35. Installation of officers was held immediately following the meeting. Discussion was held about a fitting motto or slogan. Since they couldn’t decide, and also in order to make it fair to all, it was decided to send a ballot along with the Christmas Party flyer and have everyone vote, and send the ballot back with the reservations for the party.
A Christmas Party was held on December 3, 1962. National Headquarters made up the flyer for them and it announced a chili supper would be held at the Voelker’s residence in Irvington. The meeting was held, and a Committee was appointed to count the ballots on the motto. It was found that “Heart of Indiana” had won out over the others suggested. Two men immediately started sketching drawings, Don Christie and Milton Stewart, and they both drew about the same thing – namely the State of Indiana with a heart appearing in the middle of it. Thus this little heart in the middle of the State became the emblem and it was decided to use the name Central Indiana.
It was suggested that the organization publish a little newsletter for the members, and although everyone thought it was a good idea, they lacked a publisher and supplies. Billy Beisner, who had access to some equipment in his office, offered to put out the paper which was later named “The Ticker”, by his wife, Ruth. The first issue of the Ticker was printed after the December 3, 1962 meeting. It announced that the Official Charter had just been received. The Ticker is published six times a year and is mailed or e-mailsed to the members approximately 21-30 days before each event, giving information pertinent to that event, as well as news of traveling members, names of new members, changes of policy and by-laws and any facts of interest or importance to the club.
By the first of the year 1963, a Roster was printed and it had 48 names in it. New members were carefully checked and sponsored. After the Chapter was organized, they had to determine just what rules they were to abide by. It went without question that they had to accept the National rules, or Constitution and By- Laws, but from there on it was up to them. Rather than become too entwined with a lot of extra by-laws, they formed the present Standing Rules which Headquarters liked so much that they asked for some extra copies. These rules were drawn up by Paul and Betty Jane Pike and Mildred Voelker and were voted on April 1963.
When the time came to make the transition from Chapter to Unit, this was done without incident and there were 200 members at that time. The National Headquarters re-structured the club, taking the Central Indiana Chapter out from under the Indiana Unit and it became the Central Indiana Unit, separate and equal to any other unit in WBCCI. The original unit dues were $1.00.
All WBCCI Units are to be non-profit organizations. This also applied to the 500 Race Rally, which the Central Indiana Unit organized and first sponsored in the year 1968. Four members, Ralph Robinson, Richard Teeters, Robert Fletcher, and Jack Watson were instrumental in starting this rally. The membership voted to have the Race Rally become a National event in June 1970. The purpose of this was to receive backing and better news coverage from National Headquarters. In 1968 a typewriter and mimeograph was purchased for the Unit. A public address system, electrical lines and water hoses were also purchased and put to good use at every rally.
The program of each rally was filled with educational and interesting activities. Handicrafts of all types, slides and travel talks, bike rides, church services, potluck dinners, catered dinners, and all kinds of entertainment were a part of every rally. At Church services and Christmas parties (in lieu of gift exchanges) contributions have been made to local charities as well as to the Cancer and Heart Fund.
Caravans to the International Rallies soon became popular. Marshall Chandler, was instrumental in organizing and leading them.
The Unit grew steadily and rapidly and in June 1969, a few of the members living in southern Indiana, led by Lee Johnson, formed the Southern Indiana Unit.
In September 1972, the Central Indiana Unit celebrated their Tenth Anniversary at Hartford City. Several officers from other units and many of the CIU past presidents were in attendance. Those who were unable to attend sent letters of congratulations and best wishes.
Thus from a simple beginning, the Central Indiana Unit grew to a membership of 445 members in 1974, with more and more enthusiastic trailerists applying each month. The unit grew, not only in numbers but in strength and popularity. Its officers and members worked long and diligently to make each year’s programs bigger and better than the previous one.
In May of 1970 a flag was made with the embroidered names of all past officers. This tradition has continued to the present. We now have several embroidered flags listing all our past officers. This represents a very nice exhibit displayed from a custom made pole. This exhibit was brought to our annual Christmas luncheon in December 2008.
Sources of information:
Helen F. Oldham, Corresponding Secretary in 1973-74
Letter from Mildred Voelker
Letter from Billy Beisner to the Unit on 10th Anniversary
Letter from Raymond Bramblett to the Unit on 10th Anniversary
Minutes of Business and Board Meetings on file
Embroidered flag of past officers