Warning Signs

For those of you unaware, Pinterest is a website on which people post, or ‘pin’ images that they like, for other browsers to see. There are bajillions of images covering almost any topic you can imagine, and Melinda had found images of vintage camping trailers, or “canned hams” as they were called back in the day. A LOT of images.  A truly ginormous number of images.  It seems that a national resurgence of interest in the campers we travelled in as kids had hit and hit hard.

Melinda spent hours looking at photos of canned hams and advertisements selling old trailers, tried to get me to look at some of them, but in my mind, “old camping trailer” meant a dilapidated wreck on wheels that someone had plopped into a field and used as a hunting camp.

deer camp trailer

My mental image of an old travel trailer.

Needless to say, I was not interested.  She refused to give up, and kept looking on Pinterest, perusing ads selling canned hams and…plotting.  During the 2012 holidays  we stopped in a local firework vendor’s roadside tent/store to buy some Saturn missiles for New Year’s Eve–one of our traditions–and she noticed an old trailer that the owner lived in while travelling selling his wares. She asked him if she could peek inside and cajoled me to look with her. Again, I was Not Impressed. It was a shambles, and piled high with cardboard boxes. Anyway, after the holidays, my work schedule changed and I was working 21/7 which means I was offshore for three weeks and home for one week. She had plenty of time to scour the camper photos and ads, and to get a feel for the prices that were being asked for and realized for canned hams.  She is a meticulous and detail oriented woman and had began to compile a legitimate ‘want list’ of features to look for in an old camper. Meanwhile she began bombarding me with emails showing really nice examples of restored campers. Being a huge fan of  Mid Century Modern design, I could appreciate the gleaming chrome, the boomerang Formica, the  futurist starburst graphics that many of those old campers sported.  And the wings.

Ahhhh yes, the wings, my Achillies heel.

Confession time. I am a Car Guy. I am also a long time collector and restorer of gas pumps, soda machines, the occasional car, and I LOVE 1950’s  space age stuff.  I had begun, but due to divorce  was not able to complete, a 1960 Chevrolet Impala twenty years ago. Gentle readers, the 1960 Impala was a watershed in American car design, for as the fins which cars sported in the mid-1950’s became larger and more elaborate, the design cues also evolved, with references to jet fighter airplanes, higher speeds and the flying cars that we would ALL be driving by the year 2000.


This was my 1960 Impala, painted–wait for it–aqua and white. Note the chrome chevron on the trunk lid. You will see this material again.

The 1960 Impala had wings on the rear fenders, glorious overblown ludicrous By God  WINGS!

And coincidentally, so did a brand of canned ham called “Shasta”.  I was intrigued, to say the least.   I could truly appreciate a bulbous camper trailer with wings..that made it ALL BETTER. So suddenly I began to seriously look at some of the email photos and try to learn about these trailers. Melinda was way ahead of me and was watching auctions and Craigslist postings, getting a good read on what we could expect to pay for one of our own, and how others had restored theirs. It was about this time that she learned of a new word being used…”glamping”.  I had no idea that trailers were being outfitted with chandeliers, four poster beds, leopard fur banquettes and all the rest. Not my thing at all, but I applaud the creativity and passion that others have poured into their campers.

After a lot of phone calls, emails and photos being sent back and forth, we had arrived at a decision.  WE WOULD GET A TRAILER. Now the search began in earnest!  We quickly learned that because of the boom in old trailers, prices were getting to be outrageous and some sellers were truly greedy, with rotten units selling for $$$$, so that the only thing left salvageable was the frame.  We wanted a camper in restorable condition, with original interior and appliances, we wanted a shower/bathroom…and it must have WINGS!

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