Have Your Way! -- It Can Be Done!
FACTORY DIRECT TO YOU.
by Linda L. Mullen
Every college kid talks about taking a year off to travel the back roads of America, taking his time and taking a lot of pictures.
That's what husband and wife, Arthur Klonsky and Jane Sobel, and their two harlequin Great Danes intend to do.
Klonsky and SobeL commercial photographers from New York City, are leaving from Elkhart on Tuesday for a 12-month journey down the back roads and through the main streets of rural America.
During their trip, they will take about 20,000 pictures for their employer, The Image Bank of New York, and for their sponsors, Kodak and Rand McNally.
It's going to be a long journey and a year away from home , so the team made a compromise. They will be seeing America from their 57-foot customized recreational vehicle, built specifically for this trip by Travel Units in Elkhart.
The RV, bought by The Image Bank and loaned to Kionsky and Sobel for this assignment, is a home in itself.
It has every convenience of the modern home, from a videocassette recorder to a trash compactor to a greenhouse and a satellite dish. It even has customized water and food stations for Otto and Mol ly, the Great Danes.
The fifth-wheel, called "An American Odyssey," is packed with 200 pounds of dogfood and 75 pounds of dog biscuits - judging from the size of the dogs, that should last about eight weeks.
They're also taking 13 cameras, more than 30 lenses, 4,000 rolls Of film, the latest in computer and telephone equipment, and a washer and dryer - just about everything Klonsky and Sobel will need. They will pick up about 6,000 more rolls of film along the way and about 25 pounds of dog food a week.
Klonsky and Sobel have always dreamed of this trip, they said. It was just a matter of gaining the reputation and finding the sponsors to go ahead with it.
Their portfolios include photographing campaigns for "Better in the Bahamas," Club Med, Diet Pepsi, and various sportswear with topnotch athletes acting as models.
In exchange for financing the trip, The Image Bank will get thousands of pictures it can sell to advertising agencies, magazines and various other agents.
Kodak will get advertising rights and publicity from the film.
Rand McNally will get photographs and mileage information for its atlas company. Rand McNally stocked the RV with computer equipment to route the miles and carve out the best routes for Klonsky and Sobel.
Their departure from Elkhart, otherwise known as "The RV Capital of the World," will provide the first glimpse of middle Ameiica's gracious hospitality. Mayor James Perron of Elkhart and several local legislators will send the couple off in style.
In a ceremony at Elkhart City Hall, Klonsky and Sobel will receive keys to the city, a mayoral proclamation declaring the day, "American Odyssey Day," and a rousing musical ovation from the Elkhart Municipal Band.
NBC's Today Show will join the festivities as they begin filming a multi-part series on "An American Odyssey."
Mike Leonard, the show's cross country correspondent, will document the Elkhart departure before joining the crew of "An American Odyssey" for a few days as they head south toward Alabama and their first stop in Huntsville.
"Over the past several months, we have visited Elkhart several times in order to check on our vehicle," said Klonsky. "The people have been absolutely wonderful and we have received all the help and cooperation we could ever have asked for.
"We are thrilled about the city's plans to participate in seeing us off . It seems very appropriate that we should be leaving from Elkhart, which represents a unique slice of Americana."
When it's all over, Klonsky said he and his wife plan to drive to their boss's home in New York, park the RV, and hand him the keys.
Even though the vehicle has every luxury of a home, by that time they will be ready for a home without wheels, they said.