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A big hello to all from fair Hagerstown

July 04, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND

On this fine Fourth of July, I would like to start out by giving a big Hagerstown hello to Joyce Turner. It will be a little difficult, however, since, technically, I don't know who she is. But, unlike many of us, perhaps, she wants to be here.

I know this because of an article in the Chico (Calif., I think, but don't hold me to it) Enterprise Record that starts out thusly:

"With the wind in her face and the vinyl, low-rider Harley Davidson holding her up, Joyce Turner only has one goal on her mind. Getting to Hagerstown."

The goal of getting to Hagerstown. Do you realize how many people have not said that over the years?

Joyce is a member of Motor Maids, which if press releases can be believed, is "North America's oldest women's motorcycle club." I assume they mean the club is old, not the women.

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The group is holding its 65th Anniversary Convention in Hagerstown this week, and is expected to draw 150 riders and their families. There's going to be a parade of them Tuesday starting at 7 p.m. from the Clarion Hotel, traveling west through Hagerstown on U.S. 40.

I can't be more specific than that, since frankly I can't remember which one the Clarion is. Hotels seem to be in a death race with banks in this community to see which can change their names most often.

One quick memo to Joyce: The paper says you've been riding for 39 years, but truth be told, in all that time you might not have experienced anything quite approaching U.S. 40 west through Hagerstown. It ain't exactly our good side, if you know what I'm saying. U.S. 40 east is a lot better, so as long as you come back to the hotel, you'll get a fair and balanced view of the city.

According to the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Motor Maids will be easy to spot because they wear a uniform that includes gray slacks and royal blue blouses with white boots and ties. Blue and gray. In a Civil War community such as this, it's nice to know they aren't taking sides. Still, the mental picture I'm getting is a sort of early-American zoning inspector, although that's probably just my imagination playing tricks.

What I like about this club is that it kind of stands traditional gender patterns on their ear. Husbands of the Motor Maids are permitted to be members of the "Motor Maids Auxiliary," although they are not permitted to attend any Motor Maid business meetings.

Smart women.

You let the guys in, and pretty soon, after a few beers, you just know that the word "topless" is going to sneak its way into the Motor Maid bylaws, and the entire treasury will be bet on a claiming horse at Charles Town Races & Slots.

Of course it's not just the Motor Maids who are getting their first look at Hagerstown. Tom Riford and the CVB have been rolling up one interesting convention after another, making Hagerstown quite the popular place among people with Really Weird Pastimes.

Most recently it was, I am not kidding, the American Pygmy Goat Association's national convention, and up next is the Old English Sheepdog Club of America. To me, this kind of stuff is so much more interesting than a national insurance convention discussing a year's worth of changing actuarial tables.

And really, for every bit of bad national press we get over the Willie Mays unpleasantness (don't ask, Joyce) the CVB has been pretty good about seeing that we get a lot more positive vibes through the national write-ups these conventions generate.

Everyone's happy. Riford sees it this way: "People want to come here, they want to shop here, visit our parks and historic sites, and they want to see what our communities have to offer. Groups and conventions flock here, and make national news."

I, meanwhile, see it this way: Sheepdogs? Why was I not informed that there would be sheepdogs? How many of them are named Sam? Too bad you couldn't have the American Sheep Convention the same week.

The only thing that makes me feel bad about the dogs coming to Hagerstown is that, unlike the Motor Maids, the sheepdogs might not have had a choice.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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