Author – IFMR Chairman, David Ingerson, as per IFMR Newsletter (photos added later).
To visit the USA!
My citrus industry in South Australia was planning its second export of oranges into the East Coast of the USA. It is after all the 90th anniversary year of the manufacturer of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The Hell’s Rotarians, “The Mild Ones”, had planned the annual Vineyard Ride to the Yakima Valley in Washington State, what better opportunity to visit historic Massachusetts and meet Russ and Sheila Johnson again. And how better to meet many of those wonderful people who are executive members of the North American Rotarians in Chicago, Los Angeles Milwaukee and Seattle.
The planning was relatively uneventful, my wife Judy and staff assisted me to “get away” and suddenly I was at the airport near Seattle with Ron Dunlap enquiring if I was “David from Down Under”. At that time I realised that an adventure of a lifetime had just begun.
In the next few days I visited two Rotary Clubs, had been introduced to many Rotarians who involve themselves with motorcycles and saw just a few of the many tourist attractions of Seattle. What a fantastic start to three weeks of holiday in the USA. Rotarian Herb Bridge and Ron Dunlap with John Anderson had arranged the annual three-day Vineyard Ride to Yakima Valley and Herb had offered me the use of his near the new Harley-Davidson sportster so that I could ride with the group. It is almost impossible to describe the thrill of riding with 50 other riders through some of the best riding, most spectacular and picturesque country that Washington State and North Oregon can offer, the barbecue at the vineyard at Sunnyside, the fun at the stops during a ride, the Mexican restaurant finale, the early-morning rain, and the company of many who wanted to share this experience with an Aussie from Down Under. It was just great.
I visited Chicago and met Julius Schoettle for a far too brief time but was able to talk about a Fellowship in the delightful surrounds of an Irish pub in Chicago. Whilst there I visited Rotary International Headquarters at Evanston and spent time discussing our Fellowship with World Fellowship Coordinator Daniel Flanigan.
I raced to Milwaukee to meet PDG Rick Luedke who took me to a Rotary meeting in West Allis, to the famous Milwaukee Natural History Museum to see a display of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, from old to new, then till now, and finally on to hollow ground….. The Harley-Davidson factory, Capital Drive, Milwaukee ….. to see and marvel at the production facilities and enjoy the promotional activities and public relations of his great firm. I even got my Harley T-shirt there. Rick enabled me to visit the Oshkosh Fly In (Editor’s note.. that's the largest in the world “get together” of small aircraft owners, manufacturers, suppliers etc of anything to do with small aircraft, acres and acres of planes) and the magic North of Wisconsin, to the land of lakes and log cabins and somehow still catch a flight to Boston on time.
Russ and Sheila Johnston, you are just wonderful people. To meet a flight at 11.00pm, to travel the many miles to collect me, to show me the beautiful and historic town of Newburyport, to get me involved in the Rotary Club of Newburyport’s chicken barbecue, to arrange a motorcycle ride with a group of “Retreads” (similar to our Ulysses Club… Ed) along the coast of New Hampshire for a Sunday morning breakfast, to share the “Yankee Homecoming” celebrations with you and to allow me to relax for just a short time (including my birthday) was a most memorable and wonderful experience.
My final US destination was to visit Los Angeles to meet Ron Lyster and K.C. Hicks. Ron’s enthusiasm enabled the North American chapter to be established quickly and efficiently. My time in California was an opportunity for both Ron and I to meet and to plan the future of the Fellowship and to understand our common objectives for the motorcycling Fellowship. Ron and wife Guin showed me some of Los Angeles and we spent a great day together visiting a Western museum and Santa Monica.
The Australian citrus industry delivered our fruit to the East coast port of Wilmington and I spent three days assessing the outcome of that shipment.
The most wonderful thing that occurred from my trip was simply to meet so many Rotarians who share my real love of Rotary and Motorcycles. Their company, their hospitality and friendship was superb and I am convinced that if this is what International Fellowships are all about, then I hope that they remain for another hundred years and beyond. We frequently have the opportunity to meet and ride with fellow Rotarians in our home territory, but to meet and ride with a group in another continent is unforgettable.
My personal invitation is extended to any or all motorcycling Rotarians who may consider a visit to Australia to us to allow us Down Under to show you the same friendship and hospitality that was shown to me recently in the U.S.A.
For more information or if you can contribute any info yourself
please email: Historian@ifmraustralia.org