With the recent renewal of the FMDAC, the attempted revival of WWATS, and recent rumors that the Task Force will resurface soon, I hope that all will look at the possibility of joining forces, being proactive, and taking on the big cheeses, and by that I mean state and national legislatures.
This came to mind the other day when I discovered that one of the FMDAC’s appearances before a Senate Sub-Committee back in 1987 was actually out there in cyberspace. It’s a long and boring read, but it’s there, in it’s entirety, mispellings and all (I am amazed at how those who documented these hearings kept their jobs). The book I received on that one hearing is 1,475 pages long, and it too is filled with mis-spelled words.
The bill in question at that time was the California Desert Protection Act of 1987, an attempt to declare thousands of acres of the Mojave desert as a Wilderness Area. A label that would have prohibited off road vehicles, prospecting, metal detecting, gem hunting, etc.. Because the Prospectors Club of Southern California asked us to help, we encouraged our members to write to their congressmen, and we personally made it a point to be part of the sub committee hearings in Washington, D.C.,in order to have our voice heard.
I was able to speak thanks to Chic Hect, Senator from Nevada, who was an ally and someone you could call when you needed more information about what was going on in the nation’s capital. Frank Lautenberg, from New Jersey, was another such friend. Back then it was much easier to get through to your elected representatives, and we didn’t have email. Today? Impossible! Senator Hecht passed away in 2006, and Frank is still doing his thing on behalf of New Jersey…..
On the day that I was scheduled to speak (along with many, many others) I met Archie Ray (Legislative Chairman for the FMDAC at the time) and his wife Rosalie (FMDAC treasurer) on the train. I left from Trenton, New Jersey, and they came on in Baltimore. We had lunch with Charles McKinney, president of the Atlantic Alliance for Maritime Heritage (another allied group), and then headed to the hearings.
When we arrived there were TV cameras everywhere, and we couldn’t figure out why. Archie joked “guess they knew you were coming”. We soon found out the reason. Also speaking that day was Morgan Fairchild and Shelley Duvall (friends of Senator Allan Cranston, who was sponsoring the bill).
Must say they both were worth more than a few looks, and sitting at a table with them was not an unpleasant experience.
A little aside….after the hearing Morgan Fairchild came up and whispered in my ear that she’d like me to join her for dinner in her room that night.I explained that I had a long trip home, and would get in touch at a later time (At least I thought it happened, but Archie assured me it really didn’t….).
There were also many allied groups speaking that day, and I hope that someone from the three current national groups will take the time to go through the list, and see if they are still around. They can be found by clicking here and scrolling down to the list of those speaking that day.
My statement and supporting documents from White’s and Fisher Lab’s can be found here if anyone is interested. There were also supporting documents from most all other manufacturers but they do not appear as they were sent later.
I know I am beginning to sound like Scott Clark now, but for any group to truly represent us, they must be made up of be full time, dedicated, paid employees. We can no longer depend on phone calls or emails. I hate to say this but these tactics have become passé. Proactive today means in your face, live representation, and no if, ands or buts, and we must join forces with other similar groups…
If a local park is closed in Indiana…you look into it, find out the reasons, talk to the local club, and if it’s something that you think was uncalled for, or that TH’ers were penalized unfairly, you send money to hire a local attorney. I can tell you from our efforts to open Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, a local attorney, with the knowledge of how the local political system works, can make a helluva difference.
If it’s a state sponsored problem, you follow the same procedure, but make sure your voice is heard, not just through emails, phone calls and letters, but by personal visits to those pushing the legislation or to those that can help, in an effort to have your voice heard, and if necessary, to offer a counter proposal, a compromise that might satisfy both parties….
Our pastime can survive, and we can even thrive, but there needs to be a heroic and monumental joining of forces if that is to happen. That means, all the wannabe national organizations, all the clubs, all the individual TH’ers, and most importantly, all the manufacturers. We, who were part of the early FMDAC efforts, were able to do things, and make things happen without a lot of money. It was easy back then because we had unity, a purpose, a goal, the manufacturers support and the drive to get things done….
Now, can we do it again?
A FOLLOW UP TO THE ABOVE…
Amazinely twenty years later I was working for Border’s Books and Music in Dallas, Texas, and one of our regular customers…..Morgan Fairchild!! She came in often, and sometimes would spend time in our cafe, enjoying a coffee, etc.. One day I got up the nerve to ask her if she remembered that day in Washington, D.C., and amazingly she did.
She was easy to talk to, and yes was still so very easy to look at, but amazingly, she never mentioned the invite to dinner?