- Written by Todd Moning
One of the attending families was Tom and Florence "Flossie" Townsend, F16402, who joined FMCA in 1975. The Lambertville, Mich., couple almost didn’t' make it to Lehigh.
"We were having a real problem with our motorhome," Flossie recalled. "It would run for 70 to 80 miles and then it would lock up. We sat in a garage for about two days trying to get it fixed."
Just in time for prizes
Attempts to repair their motorhome were unsuccessful. The Townsends made it to Lehigh, though, by stopping every 60 to 70 miles to put fresh gas in the motorhome.
"I think we got there just about the last day of the convention," Flossie said, "and that's the day they were having most of the prize drawings." (The Townsends had the motorhome repaired after the convention. The fix entailed rerouting the fuel line away from the exhaust system to correct a vapor lock problem.)
At Lehigh, FMCA was awarding more than 200 prizes, including a brand-new Chevrolet Chevette as the grand prize. The Townsends purchased tickets for the prize drawing.
"I kept telling my wife, 'I'm going to win that car,' " Tom said. "But when they drew my name first, I said, 'Awe no, I’m out of the running for the car.' "
The final three prize winners were drawn in reverse order. So, although Townsend was the first name drawn from the "hat," Tom and Flossie won third prize, a Honda 500-watt portable generator. N.J. Hathaway, F23198, of Mesa, Ariz., won the Chevette.
Twenty years later …
For the Townsends, history repeated itself. Well, sort of.
Fast-forward to July 2003. The place: Hamburg County Fairgrounds in Buffalo, N.Y., site of FMCA's 70th International Convention.
"The only FMCA conventions we haven’t been to are the ones way out West," Tom said. "Other than that, we've probably been to just about all of them. Once you do it, you really can't get it out of your blood."
In Buffalo, the Townsends were entered in FMCA's 40th Anniversary Membership Recruitment Contest because Tom had recruited at least one new family member to FMCA during the contest period.
"Anytime I run into someone who doesn't belong to FMCA, I tell them about it," he said. "And I carry extra membership applications. They might not turn it in, but I always give them one."
His friend Don West, F316940, who joined FMCA in September 2002, did turn one in, and that generated the Townsend's contest entry at the "Shuffle off to Buffalo" convention.
From the 4,345 entries, the Townsends' name was drawn first again. Only this time, the first name selected won the grand prize, a 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser.
Breaking the news
Tom and Flossie attended the convention in Buffalo but departed prior to Sunday evening's prize drawing. They received the news while at a rest area off the Ohio Turnpike, about 80 miles from home.
They were returning a call to Jeff Jefcoat, FMCA national president at the time, who had been trying to reach them from Buffalo. "My wife wouldn't let me pull out of the rest area until I called Jeff back on our cell phone," Tom said. "We thought something was wrong."
Jefcoat delivered the news that the Townsends were the grand-prize winner. "Well, I'll tell you this: It about blew me out of my seat," Tom said. "In fact, I called him back 15 minutes later because I was still in shock and I said, 'Jeff, did you just say I won a PT Cruiser?' "
'A lot of friends'
Tom and Flossie have owned Townsend Carpeting in Lambertville since 1969. They have three children and 10 grandchildren.The Townsends have owned about 13 motorhomes, Tom said, including their current coach, a 40-foot Prevost LeMirage XL, which they purchased in mid-2003.
Tennessee is one of their favorite destinations. They own a cabin in Townsend, about 20 miles west of Gatlinburg. "We have a lot of friends in all different places, and it's all because of the FMCA rallies."
Behind the Prevost, they tow a 24-foot enclosed trailer to haul a golf cart and Tom's Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Soon they may be pulling the PT Cruiser. The grand prize included a towing package donated by Blue ox and a lube pump supplied by Remco Manufacturing.
"The PT Cruiser is a nice car and it's surprising how much room there is inside," Tom said. "And it rides really nice."
He's purchased a special license plate for the car. "If anybody sees an FMCA license plate on a red PT Cruiser, they'll know it's us. We're real happy and would like to thank the people at FMCA."