I am pleased to welcome you to my personal blog, which I started in March 2009. I first became interested in blogging about five years ago, using old "blogger.com", which was cumbersome to use and I never mastered. About a year ago I discovered that Google had bought "blogger.com" and had revised it considerably, making it fun to use, so much so that I have devised at least 15 blogs on various subjects and frequently add posts and Gadgets to them.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

William T. Johnson's Tour of Homes 2009

A Perfect Day    

 This seems to be a perfect day for our annual Tour of Homes, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, the Woman's Club, and the Chamber of Commerce.  This is a fund-raising project I've been involved in or thought about for more than fifty years.  The sponsors must set a date at least a year ahead of time, provide someone to meet with a joint committee, and understand that they must be prepared to stand for a loss of funds. Several things could go wrong: The weather on or before the tour date could be atrocious; high gasoline prices could affect attendance; the committee could overspend its budget; or the committee might not advertise properly. However, today seems about right: The weather is perfect;  gasoline prices are reasonable; and, as I understand it, the committee has used good judgment in its expenditures and obligations. 

Tour Cars

     Any tour can be affected by ideas adopted by the committee and the sponsors. More than forty years ago I got the idea of using our private cars as taxis, as in New York. This idea has worked out well. We decided early not to provide gasoline, insurance, or other emoluments to the drivers, with a few exceptions, such as magnetic signs for the cars and sandwiches for drivers at tour headquarters. It seems that we need about three dozen cars to start with, including Kiwanians, Rotarians, and anybody else who volunteers.  As this works, all drivers are expected to be lined up at tour headquarters (the Elementary School, this year) thirty minutes early to be issued signs, ID cards, and instructions. If we're lucky there will be several dozen tourists also ready to go by start time, 10 a.m. We have a group of starters to line up car loads, to load the cars, and to instruct the drivers to which house to take their tourists first and to return immediately for another load. After taking care of the early arrivals, the drivers are expected to drive around looking for tourists waiting in front of the homes for transportation to another home. I think of this operation as "organized chaos." A driver who works until the 5 p.m. closing time can expect to drive about 100 miles.

Printing Costs

   One of the major expenses of the tour will always be printing, from tickets to brochures to special inserts for the weekly newspaper, the News-Reporter, which has begun with publicity about the tour weeks ahead of time. Some of this printing cost will be paid from tour proceeds and some by the newspaper.

Name Tags

   Several years ago I prepared name tags for tour workers - drivers, docents, ticket sellers, starters, etc. - and found that about 350 people were involved. Every house will require a dozen or more docents to explain the house to the visitors, the special places being shown - churches, museums, libraries, food service, etc. - will require similar numbers of shift workers. I understand that one home owner has agreements by forty docents to work at his house today.


Signs are an important part of the tour. In the old days we either didn't have signs or used paperboard signs - a mess. Now we have well made signs that are reusable from year to year. Each sign shows a letter of the alphabet - "A" through "T" this year, a number, or instructions to drivers. These must be installed at the correct spot some hours before the tour and removed shortly after. We presently have a dependable group to handle signs for the tour and to store them until next year.

1 comment:

  1. "Thank you W.T. for your imagination and many years of service to our Washington-Wilkes community. You idea of Kiwanis Tour Cars for our guests has given a special touch to our tour of homes that set a new standard for tourism. Our quests can come to tour head quarters and relax. No direction or traffic problems, just sit back and look at the flowers and pretty colonial homes with a personal transportation and visitor guide. I salute you W.T. Regards, (`Bob