The ITC continues with its low dues for the Thunderbird enthusiast

$26/year US & Canada
$35/year for all other countries!
Want to become a member of
the ITC? Download our application or
Created by serious people just for fun . . .

NOTE: By reviewing this, our newest-of-many caravans,
I hope you enjoy sharing at least in imagination what we
experienced and adored in reality. I further hope it causes
you to drive your Thunderbirds more, do so with others,
and gather with groups to get everyone involved to come
to a Thunderbird gathering.
Then perhaps you will be saying…

by Dr. Rich Schatz ,ITC Script Editor def. caravan (kar' a-van ) n. (from Persian karvan) that age-old method of traveling in groups through a desert or other hostile territory to a given common destination.

In eras gone by, security and protection were the basic or only factors which caused initialization of this travel mode. Camaraderie usually became a formed factor as the journey progressed. Most of the caravan constituents were strangers to one another at the outset. While they all arrived at a common destination, this was simply an arrival point from which many then left, each to seek an individual final destination. They then settled and remained there, many for their whole remaining lives. In most cases, these final abodes were situated in lands still powered by harsh conditions, dangerous animals, and hostile humans.

Most caravans today, at least in the antique car hobby, are somewhat different. These "caravaneers" are usually friends or acquaintances from a prior time, all have the same mode of travel (a T-bird), and all are going to and staying at the same destination point - a Thunderbird Convention. While the journeyed lands and the convention destination are not at all hostile (quite the contrary), no one from the caravan will leave for a different location or settle in this new land. They will not remain permanently at the "drop" destination, but instead will arrive on different days at different times, and stay but a short few days. Nearby areas will be but visited for a few hours. This visitation, called a tour, is usually put together just to see local color. In fact, many other people with Thunderbirds will also arrive in very small groups or by themselves, having journeyed for the same purposes as those who ventured in groups. All will have both a wonderful time and an adventure while in this new land, making new friends and renewing old while there. Those who do not come at all to this place at all at the prescribed time, issued through the International Thunderbird Club office and its magazine, will have missed out on some of the best relaxation and fun that free or hobby opportunities have to offer. More importantly, it finishes and solves the equation upon which this whole sponsoring organization was built. This embraces the precept of family involvement in our club, the ITC - created by serious people, just for fun! It is a pleasantly memorable time for all of the family.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch - er, caravan. There is not only security in group traveling, but loads and loads of good fun! Driving the cars, for us, is good time #1; running with all our friends and new acquaintances is another; and having everyone look at all the nice cars as we pass is the third (yes, that is vain, but I am also truthful!). We Schatzes have been part of a repeating group for Thunderbird caravans to conventions now for some six years, starting with Syracuse '94. Frank Starkes, now Northeast Advisor of the ITC, designed with me and led our first major big mileage caravan - to Dearborn '95. We had seven Thunderbirds in that one. Frank and copilot Jean, his wife, did such a great job with that journey, including motels, eateries, and stops, that we conferred on him the honorary and very distinguished title of "Major" (taken from veteran actor Ward Bond's Major Seth Adams, Wagonmaster of the popular sixties' TV series Wagon Train. "Major" Frank and Jean were none-the-less efficient on the next year's 8-Thunderbird car saga to Waukesha Wisconsin, replete with pre-booked motels and tours along the way to the Midwest.

The tale goes on, but now it is time for the present day affair - Plattsburgh 2000. It was now Tuesday morning, July 11; ITC and Australia's Doug Bradley and his sister had just visited us Schatzes that prior Sunday along with past-president Ken and Ann Leaman. They were returning from their USA tour, and on their way back to New Jersey to prepare for the trip to Plattsburgh (see Ken's story in this issue). We would meet them the next day in upstate New York, that they might join our already merrie band. Meanwhile, as the girls and I were printing last minute material to take along, Kitty and Norm Mummert motored in the driveway with their 1995 Anniversary T-bird. In their 1959 Thunderbird, Harold, Lori, and their two girls were already here with doughnuts to compliment Sandy's super morning coffee. Shortly Bill and Jean Shilo would be counted in with their shiny 1997 'bird edition. Amenities and last checks, we all said so long to Mary, my Mom, and headed North to the Catskills. There we would be meeting Frank and Jean, and another 7 or 8 T-birds for the - SUPER Caravan!

Our PA group cruised smoothly up to the beautiful Catskills and the very nice home of Frank and Jean Starkes. We got there in time (on purpose) to cool off in their terrific swimming pool, the absolute quintessential condiment to top off the fabulous trip we had thus far. Evening found us at the local country club for dinner. On prearrangement by Frank, we were seated outside on their veranda where the weather and the food were just great. Later evening found us back at Frank and Jean's house after a scenic cruise in the 1964 Cadillac convertible we used to go to eat. (Frank likes Caddies, too!) We just had to run out to spend time Frank's great pair of garages where his cars have the best apartment space they could ever dream of. Wednesday morning was another special day of the convention vacation. Jean prepared breakfast for our 11 Pennsylvanians - including the additional 15 people who pulled in to join the Northward cruising gang!!! In this group were folks from Connecticut, all around the Upstate area, and the Leamans/Doug Bradley group of erstwhile fame. To say it was fantastic and scrumptious would be a pure understatement. We all ate … and ate…and ate… Departing Claverack NY, the Caravanning T-birds were video-ed by Bob, Frank's son-in-law, and departed for Plattsburgh. What a fantastic site as the now 11 Thunderbirds set off to the North with one more pickup - Earl and Arlene Skiff from Cohoes. By pre-detrermination, we found them waiting at a roadside stop near Albany, putting our modern wagon train's count to TWELVE. Yes, twelve 'birds in migratory mode to the Northland. This sterling group consisted of:

Frank and Jean Starkes, NY
Dr Rich, Sandy
and Amy Schatz, PA
Norm and Kitty Mummert, PA
Bill and Jean Shilo, PA
Harold, Lori, Katie,
and baby Vicky Warg, PA
Steve and Lynn Bozzi, CT
Earl and Arlene Skiff, NY
Dwight and Marsha Dixon, NJ
Ken and Ann Leaman, NJ
Doug Bradley
and Dawn Catelan, Australia
Jerry and Ruth Engle, PA
Paul and Jane Reigel, PA

We were THE sight to behold - all in a line on Interstate 87, easing up the road as if child's play, for all to see and enjoy. "Major" Frank pulled us up at roadside rests and gas stops within comfortable driving intervals for all. After oil checks, fuel if needed, and refreshments, the "Wagons Ho" command was issued, and we were off again, to the continuing delight of all. This section of I-87 had been given the "most scenic highway in the USA" in 1986, and we caravan members gave that no dispute. A perfect combination was formed - driving in gorgeous Thunderbird cars in a most gorgeous region. Everyone in this group had a fabulous time traveling together to the convention.

Steve and Lynn Bozzi came up especially from Connecticut to join the group after Steve and I had a phone discussion the prior week; Doug Bradley and his sister Dawn were awarded the custody of Ken and Ann Leaman's 1963 Roadster for the duration of the convention; Jerry and Ruth Engel and Paul and Jane Reigel had to LEAVE the Allentown PA area before 6 AM to join with the Leamans and the Dixons to meet us in "Rip van Winkle" land (Upstate NY) before 10 AM to make their caravan spots. In this respect, EXIT 37 for Plattsburgh came up all too soon, and we planed off the Interstate and on to the local highway, two blocks more, and onto the service road into the Inn at Smithfield, our temporary home for the long weekend while we attended … PLATTSBURGH 2000!

Plan toward a Thunderbird convention, get some Thunderbird friends together, work out an itinerary, and then you'll be able to say, "
Now That's a Caravan!" © Rich Schatz and Script; 2000