Sunday, July 18, 2004
The Grand Rapids Press
'It's the thrill of the hunt," Gary Geenen says, relaxing in his 1964
Bambi II Airstream. "Anybody can go down and buy a new trailer. If you want a 1964
Bambi II, there's some looking involved."
More than one hungry tin can fan has slipped Geenen his card and this line: "If you ever want to sell ..."
"It's a nostalgia thing," Geenen says. Maybe more for him than for most people.
"I was born in a trailer -- I wanted to get back to my roots," he says with a grin. He and his mom lived in a travel trailer off-base at Quantico, Va., when his dad was in the Marines in the early 1950s.
Geenen searched internet sites for a year looking for his beloved 1964
Bambi II. No luck. So he finally settled for his second choice, a 1967
Airstream Caravelle. He drove to Cincinnati to pick it up.
A week after he got home with his radiant rig, a friend called. He had spotted a 1964 Bambi II for sale. In Ionia.
"What could I do?" Geenen says with a shrug. "I couldn't let it go. I had to go buy it." He paid $7,500 and knows he could get at least that much for it today. He sold the Caravelle within a month, to a lady from the Lake Champlain area between Vermont and New York. Geenen's Bambi is a beauty.
"It's completely self-contained," he says proudly, showing off the minuscule restroom, equipped with a toilet and a shower head. It boasts a three-burner stove, a tiny refrigerator, a gas furnace, a hot water heater and two small sinks.
"It's almost like being at home," he says happily -- and you should know Geenen lives in a beautifully landscaped Cascade home on the Thornapple River.
He loves this trailer.
"When you go to a campground, you can't roll in and roll out without being noticed," Geenen says. "It's like taking a little dog to a park -- everybody wants to come up and talk about it. That's just what these things do. Seems everybody either used to have one or knows somebody who has one or wants one. It's pretty fun."
And it has a gleam so bright you could floss your teeth in front of it. That took two people, two days and a whole lot of aircraft polish.
Geenen, 50, owner of Clinton Realty Companies, will head to Colorado with the Bambi II this summer with his wife, Pam, to visit a son who lives out there. Now he's in the market for a 60s-era car to tow the Bambi II. That's what trailerites do. A Chevy Impala, maybe, he muses.
Geenen leans back on his powder blue upholstery and smiles.
"You can pull up stakes, be gone in half an hour and go anywhere you want."