It’s Annual Convention Time Again!

By Don Barlup
VP – National HQ & Library

This will be a trip down memory lane! Join me as we travel back to Annual Meetings past.

When I first joined AACA in 1971, I wanted to attend the Annual Philadelphia gathering. It finally happened in 1973.

The Belleview Stratford was a magnificent old school hotel resplendent in elegance of its time. Seth and Elsa Pancoast were our AACA hosts for many years, followed by their son and daughter-in-law Seth Jr and Dianne. Mike Jones eventually won the Seth Pancoast “lookalike contest” and has remained, with his wife Marci, our hosts ever since.

I fondly remember meeting many of the founding members and stalwarts, most notably Ted Fiala and our first President and last living charter member, Frank Abrams. As a young fellow I looked in awe at these movers and shakers of our early AACA hobby days.

I also remember meeting George Shuster of the New York to Paris Thomas Flyer run in 1908. He spoke at the Saturday evening banquet. As I recall, he passed shortly thereafter at age 99.

Friday evenings would host a dance band in the Grand Ball Room. The dance floor was always crowded. Great conversations and big band tunes filled the room. A dinner at Bookbinders was part of the tradition.

We all know things change. I was there the year of the Legionnaires disease. Fortunately, it happened a couple of weeks after our convention. We never returned to that once grand hotel.

This will be a different year for AACA and our Annual Convention. I look forward to each new year to renew old friendships and make new ones. It has been a tradition for me, and I hope you will make it your yearly tradition as well.