Edith "Teddy" Lane: Loner But Never Lonely
Almost lost amid the long speeches and occasional belly laughs at the Aug. 6 induction ceremonies at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., were the brief comments by Laurie Neff and Glenn Lane, the children of inductee Edith Lane.
The two stood in front of the crowd of more than 300 and shared brief highlights of the life of their late mother, known by many as "Teddy."
Edith Lane was honored by the Hall for her contributions to the RV industry, notably as founder of the Loners on Wheels (LoW) RV club, subsequent development of an RV park that targeted single RVers and a frequent media columnist on the RV lifestyle.
Lane died in 2000 at the age of 92, but she is "still traveling," her children quipped, as their mother's ashes were scattered in a favorite camping site in Death Valley, Calif.
Lane was on the cutting edge of things at an early age.
She graduated from high school at the age of 16 and embarked on a career that would set her apart from most women of her time.
She was a daredevil at heart. In 1930, at the age of 22, she became the first woman to parachute from a glider. It was a feat all the more remarkable as she missed her landing target and ended up in a tree.
Years later, as a single mother, she raised her two children (Laurie and Glenn) and would often take them camping, pulling a teardrop trailer behind the family car. She might have been one of the original Workampers before the term existed, as she would often travel from place to place and take on odd jobs while living out of her RV.
Lane was one of those rare individuals endowed with the inner vision to recognize the need for a singles club of people who travel. In 1969, by then in her early 60s, Lane met with a group of eight other single campers in Death Valley during a 49ers wagon train re-enactment RV rally. At that time Loners on Wheels was born, and her dream of a truly singles club became a reality.
Since that first small beginning, the club has grown to a membership of around 2,000 members.
There are chapters in nearly every state and Ontario providing members a network of single individuals with a common interest in camping and traveling. There are chapter campouts and rallies throughout North America. A monthly newsletter is published showing locations and directions for these events. This newsletter also gives members an opportunity to communicate with one another through the Mail Call section.
The rule that makes Loners on Wheels unique is that members must be legally single and when attending club events, members of the opposite gender, not blood related, must not occupy the same camping unit. This simple but strictly enforced rule is the basic premise of the club.
Lane served for 15 years as club president, secretary and treasurer and her rig served as club headquarters until she retired in 1985.
Karis Gaydos, current LoW president, was present at the Aug. 6 induction ceremony and happy to see the club's matriarch finally recognized. Lane was nominated by Josi Roth and endorsed by over 50 club members.
She said Lane's lasting legacy for LoW is keeping the club for singles.
"Most of the 'singles' clubs are not singles," Gaydos said. "Our club will always be for singles. If you commit matrimony, you cannot belong. Edith figured there are plenty of places for married couples. She wasn't against marriage or couples, but if you're in that position, you join clubs that are for couples."
In 1996, the club purchased a tiny RV park in Deming, N.M., and named it LoW-HI RV Ranch (Loners on Wheels – Headquarters International RV Ranch). The park had eight full hookups when the club took possession in April 1996. It now has expanded to 65 hookups and a large storage area. There is a cozy building called the Bunkhouse where coffee is served and social hour and meetings are held. This is also the library, craft, games and TV room.
The park has a memory room featuring history of the club. The park also features shower facilities and a laundry room. There are regular activities and trips in which all are invited to participate. Campers do not have to belong to Loners on Wheels to visit and stay at the park as the RV park is open to the public.
Events for club members are scheduled throughout the country in every season. These events are hosted by local chapters.
Some members remain "at large" attending events throughout North America. These are the club's "full-timers." Others remain closer to home, enjoying their local chapter. LoW "snowbirds" gather in the southern California desert, Arizona, south Texas, Florida, New Mexico and Mexico.