September was a milestone for The Australian Society of Mayflower Descendants Inc. (AUSMD). For the first time we were represented in person at Congress by a member from Australia. In the last two years our Connecticut-based Assistant General Steve Arnold ably represented the Australian Society and was at Congress in Plymouth in past September to provide invaluable background and advice.
My wife Chris and I were all booked to come to Plymouth in 2020, but of course it was not to be and instead there was the rather less exciting online Congress, which always seemed to start between 2:00 am and 4:00 am Australian time! But this year it was all go! Even better, the Australian airline Qantas had just begun a non-stop flight from Auckland through to New York JFK (a mere 18 hours non-stop), but it certainly placed us close to our final destination without the stop in Los Angeles.
Being the typically shy Australians that we are, we made sure we had fluttering Australian flags on our rental car, and another on our room door. On the Sunday morning we held a breakfast meeting in the bar at Hotel 1620, our first meeting of AUSMD in North America. We were fortunate that the barman who was on duty that morning helped us put up our full-size Australian flag on the wall, just so the thirteen members who attended would know where they should meet!
In July, Governor General Jane Hurt visited Australia and her visit was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the wider Mayflower community. Then, to have the chance to meet delegates from forty-eight other Member Societies in Plymouth was an unrivalled learning opportunity. The generosity of delegates from so many societies to offer their suggestions and advice was gratifying, and Chris and I handed out about 150 business cards to help keep contact with people from all over the Mayflower world. We also came equipped with Australian/American flag pins and some AUSMD pens. It was great to see so many people wearing the pins, while most of our United States dual members also wore their gold AUSMD name tags along with the Congress lanyards.
Our society was honoured to win the Greene Bowl on the Monday for the highest percentage increase in numbers for the last two years. But there was a downside - it made it hard to argue that higher membership fees detract from our ability to grow! I also noticed that when I asked whether there was any financial aid to help with the cost of excess luggage to get the Greene Bowl back to Australia, it rapidly disappeared back to the GSMD office - just in case I was serious! Sometimes the Australian sense of humour can be confusing!!
On the Sunday evening, we even had the distinction of being inducted at the Californian delegates' dinner as “Honorary Californians”, and we had an evening learning what a fun-loving group the Californian Mayflower folks are!
In summary, there was so much to learn and so many contacts to make, that we came away feeling thrilled but exhausted by our first Congress. Thank you so much for the generosity and hospitality that all the delegates showed us, and the new friends that we made in Plymouth.
Governor and DDG
The Australian Society of Mayflower Descendants Inc.
This article is reprinted from The Mayflower Quarterly Magazine, Vol. 89, No. 4 Winter 2023, pp.22-23