No one can satisfy everyone, no one can be friends with everyone. As we all go through life, we find the road bumpy and the beds we lie in lumpy. Like anyone, I have my supporters and I have my detractors. It is just the way it is.
A number of years ago, longtime friend and clubmember Ron Tegantvoort, who knows the joy and pain I have gone through in my 32 years of being involved with the AMC hobby, gave me a plaque to hang on my office wall, it reads as follows, "If I were to try to read, much less answer all the attacks made on me this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.” I have tried to take that precious saying to heart. At times, it is tough. But I have made it a motto of mine since it was said in 1866 by one Abraham Lincoln. I am alone in writing, photographing, laying out, publishing and distributing this club newsletter. It has been that way for the 27 years I have done it. A job needed for club survival, but like others in the AMC hobby, I am here by default. In a hobby splinted by petty personality conflicts, hobby vendors who sell parts and their view of politics in one package whether the buyers want it or not and the likes of underinformed individuals who have been given an international forum via the Internet and use it to spread lies and hate and keep our hobby festering with wounds that needed to heal ten years ago. And would if these people would just stop.
I look at my Lincoln saying, and plod on. This is a hobby, not supposed to be my life - or yours. Wasn’t this all to be about collecting old AMC cars and restoring them to our tastes and desires and sharing that experience with those who think as we do?
I started the first AMC car club in the summer of 1973 in my hometown of Loves Park, Illinois. I knew my Big Bad Orange AMX I bought as a collector's item two summers before was never going to be a collector's item unless someone kept it from sinking in the Automotive Sea of Disinterest as time marched on. Yes, like it or not, it was my selfish goal to get my own Great Pumpkin recognized in the vast Ocean of Collectible Cars that got the whole AMX and shortly thereafter, the other Rambler and AMC cars the Nash Car Club of America didn't provide a home for organized into collector car clubs. Many have helped along the way, and I am grateful.
I never got to be a millionaire as I had dreamed of when I was a kid in the 50s. At 57, it is too late. Time is running out. For us all. But I promised myself one day in 1973 on the campus of Northern Illinois University that I would - and I had to - learn to do something I never thought I could. How to write. I was 30 years old and going to college on the GI Bill from my four years of Air Force service during the Viet Nam Conflict. I passed the Journalism Qualifying Exam in the top 50% out of 450 plus students who took it that semester. I only took one course, Obits 101 (Newspaper Writing) and I hated it and only got a "C” in it. I knew I was doomed, so, like many things in my life, I pulled myself along by my own bootstraps. Much of what I have learned in life, I did by doing it. I am not done quite yet with this car club thing, but when I hit the 30-year benchmark, I will have to stand back and take stock. I will be 60 years old and have spent more than 1/2 of my entire life dedicated to the AMC hobby. I have hoped by then, the hobby would get rid of the trashtalkers and have forced the hobby leaders into a much needed summit and a much needed peace agreement and a much needed uniting into the one and only club the entire Rambler and AMC hobby needs to become strong and economically efficient. I now concede I probably won't live to see that happen. Apathy reins supreme in the AMC hobby, fighting is still far too commonplace and the Internet is slowly strangling all national car clubs with the little ones like the Rambler/AMC hobby is comprised of--suffering the worst. A 25% loss to the Internet if you have 10,000 members hurts, but the money is there to survive. A 25% loss of membership to the Internet if you have an average hobby membership of 1,000--as is reality in the Rambler/AMC hobby--you will be hard pressed to continue to pay the printer to print the club newsletter. Let alone all the other bills one must pay to run a club on a daily basis.
Through all this, I plod on, like Abe Lincoln did. Yes, you knew Abe Lincoln and you know I am no Abe Lincoln. I know it too. But I am honored to try to walk only a few steps in life in his shoes--"I do the very best I know how...” “If the end brings me out all right..." Abe said. You make up your mind...did I fulfill my dedication in the last 27 years to the hobby club you pay dues to? Did I realize my dream 25 years ago of becoming an automotive journalist? Have I put more into this hobby than anyone? My heart? My soul? "If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.” You are my judge, my friend-what say ye?