midman

AACA Museum & AACA, What is Going On

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14 minutes ago, AJFord54 said:

Probably because we were blindsided by this.  We should have been informed 4 years ago, not after the fact.  

 

AJ, what should we have told you? It really didn't, and doesn't, make any difference about who owns what. AACA Headquarters and the AACA Library operates with their own Board. The AACA Museum operates with their own Board. Together both entities have worked together to help promote the hobby by having joint promotional venues, auctions, plus raffle sales while sharing the results. Even though, we may not do this in the future, both groups will continue as before. It would have been nice to have both groups on the same property, but since that did not work out, we will continue on our own.  

 

BTW, the AACA did have positions on the AACA Museum Board. Our AACA President has also been invited to remain in this position.

 

Calling it a night!

Cheers!

Wayne 

 

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28 minutes ago, W_Higgins said:

I find the reaction to this whole thing rather fascinating.  I have never seen on this forum such interest in the Museum until everyone found out the home office didn’t own it.  Before all of this, there certainly wasn’t enough interest on the part of most of the people posting here to know they were separate entities, which was no secret.  When it was posted here a few months ago that the executive director abruptly departed it didn’t even generate a half-dozen posts.

 

 

So, when they existed as two separate entities and everybody thought they were one, and they had their own separate directors and related staff as overhead, and $80K from the club annually, and members didn’t have to pay $12 admission, that was okay.  Now it comes out they are two separate entities with their own separate directors and related staff, the club isn’t going to pay $80K per year, and AACA members still get free admission, that is completely unacceptable.

 

 

I can only imagine if the tables were turned and the Museum supported the Club and then picked up all their toys and stomped home when they couldn’t take over the Club and Library for a 5% stake.  Everybody here would be cool with that, right?     

 

In other words -- all this shedding of tears is worthless without numbers....

 

 

 

I think you're missing the point. The point isn't that everyone is upset to find out the AACA doesn't control the museum, the point is that we've all been coasting along for years under the assumption that sooner or later the AACA would merge with the museum. Nobody cared that they were separate because everyone viewed it as a temporary situation, a by-product of tax laws, and as such were OK with spending club money on keeping it running. There was a goal.

 

Now we find out that it's been a festering wound for more than four years and that ultimately, the museum that was expected to be a permanent part of the AACA and its future, isn't. Whose fault that is doesn't really matter, although I think there is rightfully some concern about the various donations and investments that were made under the assumption that the club and the museum would eventually be one. I presume that donors are informed that the two were separate within the paperwork that's filed, but I bet they weren't told that the reunion was on tenuous ground and wasn't a sure thing at all. 

 

It also isn't about the 5% that the club gives to the museum each year (which, as several people with such information have indicated is far less than the actual number), it's about the millions that club members pledged to the museum to get it built, funded, supplied, and filled with museum-worthy displays. Again, all of this was presumably done on the back of the belief that something called the "AACA Museum" founded by the AACA itself would eventually become part of the AACA. When that turned out not to be the case (and a surprise at that), it's easy to understand the strong feelings you're seeing here.

 

Again, I'm curious as to how we got to this point. The museum's point of view matters, and I suspect that at some point, it came to view itself as an independent entity and they liked it that way. There was no legal tie to the club and as a result, whatever benefits the museum may see in being independent obviously outweigh their loyalty to the club that started it. How the museum's board was ultimately populated with people who would take this point of view is a bit of a mystery, but there it is. I'm inclined to side with another poster who suggested there's money involved--I saw what happened at the Crawford first-hand, and it was ultimately about a few guys in charge seeing a non-profit entity with some very valuable assets and finding a way to turn them into money which they could quietly channel into their own pockets. That stuff happens and it happens frequently in the non-profit world. 

 

Two sides of the story would be nice, and while I appreciate Steve and the other board members' comments and insights, it's not a full picture. I don't know if most members, upon finding out about this, will just go along with the "Well, that's just how it is. Sorry. Time to move along," attitude, particularly those with investments in the museum and its assets.

 

I'm a cynic, but there are two things for certain wherever collector cars are involved: passion and deception.

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AJ, your comments are well taken but take a breath.......  The AACA Board made a very responsible decision to spin the Museum off into a 501(c)(3) several years ago so it could accept tax deductible donations, where before it could not.  This is very common, and good practice in the non-profit world.  IRS regulations require an independent board to be put in place and generally the Board is supporters of the other Board and they tend to work together.  However, something has fallen out of place here and I think you need to look to the Museum Board for answers. 

 

Again, if you want the Museum to again be part of AACA, contact the Museum Board members.  Steve has been very good at responding to our questions but I have not heard anything from Museum Board members about their reasons not to merge back into AACA.

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AJ, my fellow '54 Ford owner, the aspect that is hard to understand perhaps is that no ownership has changed and nothing is being dissolved. The AACA never had a legal stake in the museum. Any donations made to the museum were made to them, not the club. A legal challenge wouldn't have much traction. Much like a non-profit arm of a company, or even the donations of a company. I have insurance with Progressive and my favorite fast food joint is Chick Fil A. Trust me, they donate to different causes, but as a customer, I don't really get a say. Even as a stock holder, I wouldn't have more than a vote. Frankly if enough folks in the club wanted to continue to support the museum, that could be made into a vote. Its perhaps unfortunate that members didn't have a better understanding of the differences in legal structure between the entities, but other than the funds no longer being given to the museum, nothing has changed. If you thought the museum was worth while before, it still is. If you thought it was a money draining hole, well then, no longer a problem! Could both be better together? Probably. Could having a more decentralized hobby have benefits as well? Sure! I would say I also think a more open dialog could have been of greater help to avoid the side step deal feeling, but the integrity of both boards of directors hasn't been shown to be looking out for anything more than the greatest interest of their mission statement. The club really hasn't lost anything. The museum seems to feel whatever they had to lose was more than the financial tie in with receiving direct club contributions. It leaves me curious what they have planned, it's gotta be $80k a year worth minimum from someones perspective!

Edit: Just read Matt Harwoods perspective and that makes good sense to me too. That's where the open dialog might have been helpful. Still is there a reason that the club couldn't merge with the museum down the road if it's best? The $80k+ value I spoke of could be a groups personal interest. It could also be something else that's a positive. IDK.

Edited by Frantz (see edit history)
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I have been away from the computer this evening at my local chapter's Christmas Party. I see several comments in this discussion that I would like to address but it would take me forever to reply to each one and would be very confusing. There are several inaccurate comments that have been made. While it was started by AACA members and has been supported by AACA members and the club itself, the AACA Museum has always been a separate legal entity. Feel free to check out the Museum website to see more details: http://www.aacamuseum.org/about/board-of-directors/

 

As I best understand it, and as members of AACA should have read in a recent Antique Automobile issue, the Club needs to expand or replace its current facility. The growth of the AACA Library (which is legally a part of the club) has reached a point where that building expansion or replacement needs to be done soon. If the club and the Museum were to legally merge, then the logical location for that would be adjacent to the Museum. It would not be prudent for the club to entertain shared facilities with the two organizations unless the two were to merge. If the two boards have reached the point that a potential merger is not currently considered a possibility, it makes sense for the Club to pursue other options for the needed building project. 

 

I have faith in the Club's board of directors to do what is best for the club. I appreciate the amazing work that Steve does for the club.  I think that we might find that things look different after a while apart. Perhaps the Museum board will find that things look different a bit down the road. The prodigal son thought things looked better away from his father's home for a while. After a while, he found out that returning home was better for him. 

 

Hopefully a bit of time without AACA's direct financial support will show the Museum board that they need to reconsider this issue. If not, hopefully the relationship between the two organizations will continue to be mutually beneficial. Anybody who donated anything that is in the Museum should have noticed that they were donating it to the AACA Museum, not to AACA. 

 

The bottom line is that the only thing that has changed at the moment is that AACA is no longer going to contribute financially to the AACA Museum and efforts to merge the two organizations have been called off. I don't see the reason for anybody to be upset with the AACA Board of Directors about this issue. The Museum is still the Museum and the Club is still the Club. I guess the Club now has about $80,000 available in the 2017 budget to start a building project. I think that taking a wait and see position might be a better idea than typing angry posts on the Discussion Forum.  As has been mentioned previously, if you want to know why the two organizations are not going to be able to merge, you might want to ask some Museum Board Members for their perspective.  

 

 

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6 hours ago, trimacar said:

I know someone who is very liberal and hates people who have a lot of money, CEO's and any rich person period.  Recently, he did a deal on selling a car to someone, and was bragging about how he screwed the little old lady, from price of the new car to poor financing for her, but high interest rate so great for his cut.  He commented "It's all about the money!", not realizing the irony of his statement. 

You just described everyone in Hollywood. Typical limousine liberal. We all know them.

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Matt Hinson..........great post, I know nothing of the AACA Museum, except that I have enjoyed visiting it several times over the past ten years. What I do know about the AACA car club is it is VERY lucky to have Steve M. as a executive director. Steve is a true car guy, and is a very hard working individual who is a consummate professional, I have interacted with him on several occasions, and he does a terrific job. A little bit of time and fresh air may help resolve this issue, and cool & clear heads will result in what I hope to be an positive outcome for all involved. Ed.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I've always enjoyed visiting the museum whenever I am in Hershey.  It's nice that we don't have to pay to visit but I am sure I clearly remember paying an admission charge the first few times I was there and if I have to pay an admission charge the next time I am in Hershey so be it.  I am different from the majority of the people who use this forum because I do not own a collector car.  However that does not keep me from continuing to pursue and learn automobile history.  For seventy plus years I have been attracted to old cars like bees are attracted to pollen.  Going on tours is not an option for me.  My enjoyment of automobiles is restricted to going to shows and museums, taking notes and photographs and asking questions, and growing my collection of automotive literature and models.  .  I am surprised to learn that the two organizations were separate but that will not stop me from trying to continue enjoying both the club and the museum.

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Just a couple of dumb questions from an outsider...

 

If the museum is wound up, where do the proceeds go? 

 

Who elects or appoints the Board of the museum? i.e. who are the "shareholders"?

 

 

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4 minutes ago, AJFord54 said:

I suspect that the February meeting will be a joyous one.

 

The letter to members says that the AACA will

"discontinue our relationship AND financial support

with the AACA Museum."  [Emphasis added.]  So the

current thinking is more separation than just loss of

financial support.

 

The healing process can start with the AACA

inviting the AACA Museum to the Philadelphia annual meeting.

Maybe it takes humility and forgiveness to do so, but those are strengths.

Yes, we have two separate entities, so maybe the museum

would pay booth rent.  But coexisting peacefully is the goal;

and that might facilitate getting together further down the road.

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http://www.aacamuseum.org/

 

All board members are listed on their website. You can become a paying member of the museum as well, which I presume makes you a voting member, but I haven't seen their charter or bylaws and stuff.

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I am sure that when anyone donates a car or other items of significant worth they are well aware of the conditions of the donation. The museum has considerable power in that they can accept gifts in return for an appraisal (independent appraisal of course) that in many cases benefits the donor substantially thru the tax right off for donations to a non profit organization. Can't sell that 1908 Whizmobile? Donate it to a museum then take the deduction on your taxes as a charitable gift. That's how museum's work.

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I would place more onus on AACA BOD for not getting this situation out to light earlier; Exec Dir. is a paid position but reports of course to the BOD.  I think if you asked 100 members, 99 of us would have no idea of any rift and would assume the museum - even if a separate legal entity - exists solely to benefit AACA members and the public and promote automotive history.

 

This is not good news for AACA or the museum and yes, I am sure money is the end game here.

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All right, so we've hashed this over, and nothing's going to change.

 

However, I do think two things SHOULD change.

 

The name "Antique Automobile Club of America Museum" is now very misleading, even more so than when a lot of us thought it was part of the Club (our fault for not understanding, reading bylaws, and so forth).  It should be changed.

 

The link to the museum website should be removed from the AACA website, again, if there's no affiliation, then having it there is misleading.

 

I spent a lot of time in Sacramento, and made many visits to the car museum there.  It was interesting to watch cars be donated to the museum, on display for two years (that was the time the museum HAD to keep the car, written in the donation agreement), and then the car would be sold to fund museum operating expenses.  Yes, donor got whatever tax bracket percentage of the value of the car "back" on his or her taxes, but there were still some who were shocked that the car they donated meant so little to the museum. 

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As a newbie, an outsider really, looking in, this thread suggests a theme song, "Cause We've Ended As Lovers":  This tune lowers my blood pressure by a good ten points.

 

 

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Just a couple of points.  The museum board which is not elected but self appointed has and had a responsibility to make decisions that THEY felt in the best interest of the organization.  We (the club) disagree with their stance but that is sometimes the way things go.  I think both sides for quite some time felt we would find a solution as we did have an idea that was supported by all but unfortunately our legal counsel advised against it.  The club understood the reasons. 

 

Both organizations are 501 (c) (3) now which means no one owns them not even members.  It is a public institution. The museum was made a separate organization almost from the VERY BEGINNING...it is not a decision that a single board member today had a hand in.  That decision was made almost 20 years ago.  In hindsight it would have been best if people had made provisions for a merger down the road but given the climate at the time I believe that was never a concern as people assumed there never would be an issue.  The devil is in the detail as they say.

 

AACA is fortunate to have a phenomenal team in a library that is now officially a part of our club.  YOUR employees comprise a team that is energetic and doing ground breaking things such as building a kinograph and digitizing our films at a very high quality.  Instead of purchasing a machine at astronomical sums they hand built one for 5K.  Other organizations have realized the wealth we have here with 3 librarians with their masters degree and have seen their energy exhibited.  If they are going to continue to serve the worldwide community for free, they need more space.  We have a major collection promised at some point and as of today could not accommodate it appropriately. 

 

You have the hardest working group of people I have ever seen in my working career here at the club.  They come in early, stay late and can be found on weekends trying to put out a massive amount of work on behalf of our membership and the hobby.  Our building makes things tougher on them, not easier.  We get shipments of up to 5,000 pounds here and much has to go upstairs (two flights).  We have a very small dumb waiter but no freight elevator and none of us are spring chickens.  It is time that we provided the staff with a modern and efficient domicile so they can continue the work and so that we have space to fulfill our business plan for the future.  It is not about just wanting a nicer bricks and mortar.

 

I believe all of us understand people that are upset.  Heck all of us are too.  One of our board members is responsible for raising $150,000 with a significant piece of that from him personally.  I spent several years once Darwin Clark became President on the museum board working on ideas to raise money for both the library and the museum. Like many of you I have bought a brick, donated, bought tickets, etc. in support of the museum. We are upset but challenged now to clear the air and begin a new.  To those people who want to continue to support the museum, that is certainly your right and we respect that.  It is a great museum!  However, now our members have been informed about the true relationship and they can make their philanthropic decisions based upon the reality of the situation. 

 

The question many of you have is why did we ALL not know the facts before.  My perspective is it was institutionalized over the years with the optimism is that in the end we would find a way to merge the two organizations.  It did not happen although both sides put a lot of effort into the discussions.  The AACA board, I am sure will always feel that the prudent thing for our members, the hobby and both organizations would have been a legal tie between the two.

 

Thanks for the personal support, look I get it, it is part of life to take a few bricks and when your somewhere at the top (I still can clean a toilet or move loads of trophies around) people need to find someone to blame. It will be always so I have no problem sticking up for myself.  I need to take a break from this as I have meetings and other work that has to be done but do not think that I am purposely ignoring this important thread...just have other duties today.

 

For those in the way of impending storms be safe and be careful...looks like a particularly tough time in many states.  We had a large multi-vehicle accident in PA last night.

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21 hours ago, poci1957 said:

 

Hear, hear, I also encourage decision makers on both sides to get together and figure it out.  If both entities are to be sustained for the next 10-20+ years I think they need the savings of working together.  I cannot imagine accepting the waste and inefficiency of operating separately just because some one or group is fighting a little turf war.  IMO we cannot afford that kind of egos and fiefdoms if that is the problem, Todd C 

AACA members worked, gave, donated for this museum with the understanding that eventually it would be part of AACA.  We did the same thing with the Library many years before, and the independent Library Board consolidated with AACA at a later date when the tax situation made that possible.  Those people were dedicated AACA members and antique automobile enthusiasts.  The Board of the Museum is a horse of a different color.  Evidently they have realized that the Museum, built in large part on the backs of AACA club members, is theirs to keep and control.  There is an old saying, "don't tell me what you did for me yesterday, what are you doing for me today."  Is there still a Regions Room upstairs in the Museum?  I've heard not.  My wife crocheted a large afghan in the old blue & yellow colors which she gave the Museum on indefinite loan.  It on the wall of that Region Room.  It was a massive work effort on her part.  I wrote the new curator and asked it be returned, and never got a reply...complete contempt in my opinion.  But that is a separate subject.  AACA club members made it possible for the land to be bought in the first place, but when AACA wanted a parcel to build a new office and library, there was no sale.  I'm happy that no more of my dues money is going to the Museum.  If they want to be separate, then they should take that AACA emblem off of the cupola on the building.  When it all started, I thought it was to represent the history of AACA, the oldest and largest antique automobile club....an organization which really made the antique automobile hobby what it is today.  But, I guess the Museum Board looks at one another and say in unison, "So What?"

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I've been to the museum.  It's perfectly fine.  They clearly get enough income to stay open.  It really shouldn't be that complicated to simply carry on.

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1 hour ago, trimacar said:

All right, so we've hashed this over, and nothing's going to change.

 

However, I do think two things SHOULD change.

 

The name "Antique Automobile Club of America Museum" is now very misleading, even more so than when a lot of us thought it was part of the Club (our fault for not understanding, reading bylaws, and so forth).  It should be changed.

 

The link to the museum website should be removed from the AACA website, again, if there's no affiliation, then having it there is misleading.

 

I spent a lot of time in Sacramento, and made many visits to the car museum there.  It was interesting to watch cars be donated to the museum, on display for two years (that was the time the museum HAD to keep the car, written in the donation agreement), and then the car would be sold to fund museum operating expenses.  Yes, donor got whatever tax bracket percentage of the value of the car "back" on his or her taxes, but there were still some who were shocked that the car they donated meant so little to the museum. 

I think it is simply the AACA Museum.  As I recall, they were allowed to use the term "AACA", not the full title of the club.  Long time ago.  I think that was in 2002.

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My question is simply "is there any other part of the club that is not part of the club ?" The TV show last year certainly sounded like it is all in one and one would assume that "AACA" and "Antique Automobile Club of America" are either copyrighted (c) or trademarked (r) and can only be used with permission. In which case permission of whom ?

 

Would not like to get future surprises.

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It was news to me back when I found out the ACD museum was not actually part of the ACD club.  I have since noticed it is a fairly typical arrangement for the clubs and "their" museums to be different entities.   I think the CCCA is the same way.   I would guess there are some good reasons for this but don't know what they are.

 

On a slightly related note,  if you have ever been to the Larz Anderson museum outside of Boston you know it is pretty cool.  It is housed in a huge period carriage house that was once part of a massive estate.  They do weekend lawn events all through the summer.  From the outside it looks like a booming operation.  But I can tell you from a conversation I had with a former board member it is a constant struggle to keep the whole thing funded.   I'm thinking that is true of every museum.  There are 10% of the days when something special is happening and you are raking in entrance fees.  Then there is the 90% of the other days.

 

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I was looking at the AACA home page then took the link to the AACA museum. Then to the affiliation section from the museum web site. Low and behold there is no mention of affiliation to AACA the car club. Now has AACA the car club  been removed as an affiliate or always been this way. The club should have been listed here all along as an affiliate.

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My first thought was to introduce both the AACA & museum boards to Dr. Phil, but this serious is to me, a stakeholder in the AACA. 

 

I have a suggestion.  Both the AACA and museum board bundle up and take a trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, home of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).  There are many similarities between both the EAA  and AACA. Both have many strong, loyal members and wonderful museums.  Before the permanent barriers go up, now may be the time to take a breath, look into the future, and learn from like organizations.  Schedule a meeting with their Chairman of the Board, Jack Pelton.  Discover how their organization and museum co-exist.  Discuss ways that each are mutually beneficial to each other and what the future holds going forward separately.

 

It may go a long way towards mending fences.

 

Please take a moment to look at the EAA website:  http://www.eaa.org/en/eaa   Note the Apollo Lead Flight Director's headline story.

 

Does anyone think that Gene Kranz would donate memorabilia to a museum on its way to wrangling itself away from it's mother ship?  Just curious.    

Edited by Uncle_Buck (see edit history)
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Many club associated car museums such as the CCCA, Model A Ford, etc are separate foundations and are not attached to the "parent" club. I believe the new Lincoln and Cadillac museums that just opened on the Gilmore campus are separate from their parent clubs as well.  If I am not mistaken, the HCCA Library/foundation is also separate from the HCCA. Even though these museums were founded, built and funded by members of the parent club, they were built as separate legal entities and have separate governing bodies. I was always under the assumption that the AACA and the AACA Museum were separate. Maybe it is just because of my years of experience in dealing with many museums as a consultant, appraiser, etc that I knew-or at least assumed-that the AACA Museum was not legally part of the AACA. It just makes sense.

 

One of the main reasons for this separation is  legal protection. Let's imagine for a minute, for some reason, the AACA got involved with a huge lawsuit. If the Museum was part of the parent club, the lawsuit could conceivably attach and seize all of the assets of the museum-finances, real estate, cars, etc. It could also happen the other way around where a lawsuit at the museum results in assets of the AACA being attached and/or seized. By separating the two, you are actually separating the assets and protecting them. Financially, the two entities should also be independent for a number of reasons. It makes perfect sense that both entities have separate governing bodies. Idealistically both have governing bodies will work together and form alliances and partnerships, but the two should always be separated.

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)
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It looks like it's a done deal and it is what it is. But there are a few takeaways that should be addressed.                                                                         

 

Evidently the club was led down the garden path and over time was taken advantage of. If so, it was the club member's monies that were lost. I would think the members are owed a full and complete report of how and why this happened. The brief and general letter that was sent just plain does not address the situation of where and why our funds were disbursed with no return on the investment.

 

In the future when board of directors names are floated for election it might be better to pay less attention to their "love of the hobby" and popularity and  more attention to their business accomplishments, financial training and acumen. This could be formalized with a selection committee to assure that nominees are actually qualified rather than being "good old boys".

 

Had the membership been kept aware of the situation as it developed over the years we would have been  more likely to have elected board members more suited to effectively deal with the situation. The need for more transparency in the administration of the club has been needed for as long as I've been a member......................Bob

 

 

 

 

 

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