As the world was galvanized by last week’s terrorist attack at the World Trade Center, peoples’ reactions, of course, varied widely as to what to do about ongoing business commitments.

RV industry people, just like those in every other walk of life, had to make instantaneous decisions – none more so than RV lifestyle consumer activist Gaylord Maxwell.

When the tragic news surfaced, Maxwell was conducting the first full morning session of a “Life on Wheels” conference, an extension of his University of Idaho Life on Wheels curriculum on full-time RVing.

In this case, all 217 registrants assembled at Harrisburg (Pa.) Community College for the four-day session opted to resume their appointed rounds to the best of their abilities.

“I was teaching when the trade center attack took place,” reports Maxwell, whose educational program was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) and held in conjunction with the association’s 2001 Pennsylvania RV Show in Harrisburg. “When I came out of class at 9:30, I heard what had happened, and the people at the Harrisburg Community College immediately wheeled out a TV into the lobby and everybody gathered around it and was watching. We had 200 people watching TV during a half-hour break.

“As we got to the end of the break at 10 ‘o clock, seven new seminars were scheduled to start, and I knew that we needed to do something quickly. So I stepped in front of the TV and announced to everyone that we had two choices: ‘We can stay out here and watch TV like the rest of the world, even though this is going to go on for a long time, or we can continue with our lives and go on with the classes that are scheduled for 10 o’clock.’ And the
group immediately made a unanimous decision to go to classes.”

And that, says Maxwell, a World War II Navy veteran, set a rather positive tone for the rest of the week, which included an effective conference and a candlelight vigil organized by PRVCA during retail days at the Harrisburg Show several nights later.

“We all realized that, despite this horrific event, that everyday lives have to go on and that these terrorists would like nothing better than to upset everybody’s lives,” he added. “And there was nothing we could do by being glued to that TV, or we could proceed with life as it was planned that day. The one thing would serve no purpose; the other would definitely serve a purpose.

“So, we went on. But we all remained very cognizant that this horrible thing had happened, and we were empathizing with everybody involved.”