Back a few months ago, Bruce Hazard, CCA Prez, gives me a call and informs me that come December 5, he is going to be at the Boston Chapter quarterly meeting to be held just north of Boston at BMW of Peabody. He plans on making a special presentation to that chapter for its role in starting the BMW CCA some 43 years ago and wants me to come up with a fifteen-minute talk about how things were in the early days. No problem, says I, never one to turn down a chance to run off at the mouth.
Soon, as word kind of informally spread about this award, some of the “old guard” started e-mailing around to others and asking whether or not they were going to go to the meeting. John Whetstone (member #13,628) and long-time Rhode Island rep, took a deep breath, dived into the Internet, and pretty much got many “Beezers” in contact with everyone else. “Beezer”, of course, is Joseph-speak for “Bimmer-owning geezers”, those who bought their first new BMWs for less than the current sales tax on a new BMW back when many Americans thought “BMW” meant “British Motor Works”. Early CCA members who had quietly been out there in Bimmerland for many years were now piping up and allowing as how they might want to go to this meeting. So many responded that John Whetstone and John Sullivan, North Atlantic Vice-President decided to have an earlier get-together (BeezerFest I!) at a restaurant just around the corner from the dealership where the Chapter meeting was to be held. All of this got pulled together in about five weeks or so. Mark Engelberg (6758) arranged to get Bette (Mrs. Yale) Rachlin (6301) and former Boston Chapter president Cheryll Plotkin (5759) to fly up from Florida and Gordon Medenica (713) our first executive director, to drive in from New York.
About fifty of us got together at Matty’s Grille, seriously diminished their beer supply, finished off some appetizers, and showed off BMW CCA and BMW-related “stuff” some of us had dragged along for a Bimmer show-and-tell. We gave new truth to the maxim that the older you get the faster you was! Now, it was round about halfway through this get-together that I kind of noticed that there were a lot of pictures being taken of me and of me with other Beezers but I put it down to the fact that everyone today seems to have a phone that takes pictures.
OK, time for the Chapter meeting and we traipse around the corner to the dealership where a catered meal has been provided by the good folks who run the place. Again, there are quite a few people taking pictures of me and me with other Beezers but I attach no real significance to this other than the fact that I have been around the CCA for a long time, have made 41 out of 43 Oktoberfests, and have worked on or contributed in some way to every single issue of the Roundel from the time it was a single photocopied page to what we see today.
The early members are seated in the front of the group, Bruce makes some opening remarks, I deliver my talk about the early days and how we ’02 owners not only flashed headlights at each other but would actually stop and talk. I explained how we “pollinated” by slipping membership flyers under the wipers of any BMW we spotted, how membership started to grow, and the amazing effect that David E. Davis, Jr.’s Car and Driver article Turn your hymnals to page 2002 had on recruiting efforts. Bruce then introduced the early members and what a group it was. Bob Mehrman (1) showed up, as did Jim Ritchie (15), Margo Potheau (36), Michael Izor (225), John Sebastian (735), George Cha (1601), Steve Jackson (1777), Christopher Huggins (2350), Jonathan Katz (9403) our second Executive Director, Mark Luckman, our third Executive Director and many others whose efforts in the early days got this group of car crazies off the ground, developed a national organization and spun off chapters. It was an amazing time and one enjoyed by all of us who were privileged to be around when the New Class of BMWs started being brought to this country.
Bruce returned to the microphone and instead of presenting a special award to the Boston Chapter began speaking about the BMW Friend of the Marque award, pretty much the highest honor you can receive in the world of BMW. I’m running through my mind who might be receiving this award because we have some heavy hitters sitting in the audience and about thirty seconds before Bruce calls out my name, the few active brain cells I still have ever so slowly start putting things together. Hack Mechanic Rob Siegel has been snapping pictures of me all night, there is a guy with a professional grade video camera on a tripod at the rear of the audience shooting the entire meeting, every time I look around at the group, lots of people seem to be looking at me, and isn’t it interesting that virtually everyone with a camera has somehow managed to make their way to the corner of the room where I am sitting?
Yup, I was getting the Friend of the Marque award! And it was co-presented by both Bruce and good buddy Michael Izor, also a Friend of the Marque receipient. I am not saying that I was speechless but nearly so and that is a highly unusual situation for me.
I am truly grateful that so many people and organizations took the effort and spent the time necessary to go through all the steps required to first nominate me, write the supporting documents, and make the arguments for presenting the award to me.
I think it was John Whetstone who observed that it is not very often that you can snooker someone into working to help set up and make successful an event that culminates in that person receiving such a prestigious award from BMW, all without that person having even the slightest hint that any notice of any kind was coming his way. I don’t know exactly but apparently just about everyone there knew that I was being presented this award. As mentioned previously, if you want any detective work done, it would probably be best to avoid hiring me!—Joseph ChamberlainBack to News