Chick Relates How RAFINO Began648, 1/1/1999
ISSUE 23 - Winter 1999
HOW DID RAFINO GET STARTED?
By "Chick" Cecchini
I always wince when someone describes my founding of RAFINO as though - at the very outset - I had thought up the idea of starting our fraternal "keep-in-touch" society from scratch. That would be quite a stretch. Actually, it was another of those things like "Topsy" that "just growed" from a simple, one-time, short project. It went something like this………
As with all of us in the military service over the years we see places of interest on TDY or maybe just passing through, that we would like to see more of some day-at our own leisure. That list got to be pretty long for Sjelja and me. After retiring from my civil service job in 1983 we decided to plan a cross-USA trip to make our long postponed visits to those places of interest. We went about it in good military style - we actually planned it (place by place, park by park, friend by friend). We would visit friends and family we'd kept in touch with - some we hadn't seen for over 30 years. Most were retired military - some FC, some not. So we spread out the map of the USA and plotted the route to visit the mix of places and friends we wanted to see. Our total number of planned stops came to 44 - requiring 12 weeks. Our planned route was westward across the northern stretch of the U.S., down the west coast, and then back east swinging along the southern routes.
We bought a comfortable 1984 Ford Crown Victoria (it had the largest cubic trunk space of any sedan we could afford) broke it in for almost a year to get all of the bugs out of it, then loaded it up AND TOOK OFF! It was good adventure. Funny, though, looking back we realized during ALL of our visits that two of the subjects touched upon without fail were: (1) the medications being taken, and (2) "whatever happened to good old 'what's his name' "? I gradually realized that I was in touch with many more mutual FC friends than most of those we visited. About a quarter of the way through the trip, Sjelja and I agreed it would be nice to enclose with our next Christmas greeting to those friends a list of as many names/addresses of as many retired FC officers as we could gather along the way.
So, as we went along now we began to gather up the mailing lists of all we visited. I wrote to those we had visited earlier to get their lists, too. I then wrote to ALL on that list enclosing a copy of the aggregate list as of that point to ask for any additions. There were about 800 names on the final list. I did send that final list to all on the list that Christmas.
From then on it became a "tiger by the tail" situation. en One thing led to another and Voila! RAFINO - even reunions!