Inez Riverside has no trouble talking
trash. Garbage, that is.
Riverside and her husband, Jim, spend the
weeks before EAA AirVenture Oshkosh opens helping to prepare for the
start of the fly-in convention. The Iron Mountain, Michigan couple
volunteer as part of EAA Chapter 439, out of Michigan's Upper Peninsula,
whose job in the early years was hauling trash.
"I remember one time when the
garbage caught on fire right on the flight line, so they dumped the
garbage out right by the arch," she said. It wasn't a bad fire, and
it was quickly put out with the use of fire extinguishers, she said. But
it did cause quite a stir. "Of all the places to have a fire …
right at the most visual spot!" she said, laughing.
With garbage now done by private haulers,
the chapter mainly provides support for maintenance. And that means they
can be doing just about anything, from painting the water buffalos,
which Jim was doing on this particular day, to moving picnic tables or
Riverside usually volunteers in three
areas - the assistance center by the main gate, helping to create
information booklets to answer common questions; the volunteer kitchen,
helping to prepare and hand out food for the many volunteers; and the
hospitality tent, helping to make people's vacations in Oshkosh a little
She's taken many visitors' pictures as
they stand in front of airplane cutouts with a hole for their head. And
she's put on many temporary tattoos, mostly on people's ankles.
"You'd be surprised how many men
want temporary tattoos," she said. "And one time a woman
wanted the tattoo here," she said, pointing to her chest. "I
told her to put it on herself."
Riverside said she came to Oshkosh for
her honeymoon 27 years ago, and has been back ever since. She enjoys
working with Chapter 439 because it has members from all over the world,
including England and Australia. "We meet here, and keep in touch.
It's just a nice group of people."
It's also a social group that thrives -
and grows - with annual events like its Swinefest. "We roast a
couple of pigs, hire a deejay and sing some songs. We have some singers
and some sorta singers in our group. But when you make it fun, people
keep coming back."
And as they get older, the chapter is
also getting a younger group involved to do some of the more manual
work. "We call them the Brat Pack," she said. "They're
kids or grandkids of our members, and they move the picnic tables or set
out garbage cans."