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Old 10-18-2011, 03:52 PM   #15
"Tinbad ... the Trailer"
Del Gurney's Avatar
1971 25' Tradewind
1965 26' Overlander
Ferndale , Washington
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 312
The biggest difference now would be the Propane fridge/freezer. Back then and before it was can's, pickled goodies, cheeses and air dried/smoked meats. If you wanted fresh it came in with ya "on the hoof or talon"....or you hunted.
If you were WAY out there, you left supplies behind for the next folk in case they got in trouble. Still do above the arctic circle.
We always fished local.
Another big change is there were a LOT fewer people in the world.....and most were not into camping as the modern age took hold as they'd basically been camping in houses with wood heat, candles/ oil lamps, ice boxes and layers of clothes in winter.
I also remember that there was no GPS/cell phone to save you if you did something we moved with more consideration of consequences of poor planning with regards to food- Which always tastes 5x better in nature.

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Old 10-18-2011, 04:08 PM   #16
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I was Alive in 1958 - 10 years old

We had "good silver and good crystal" that were used on high holy days and festivals - Christmas, Easter, and a few other times a year.

For daily use china, we had "Melmac" - plastic that will fry and explode in a microwave and will take a heavy coffee stain in half a dozen uses. For those vintage fans who still have it, use baking soda to remove stains - dampen slightly, rub on stains with hands or a cloth.

Crystal was (A) jelly jars with a pry off lid that became glasses when empty or (B) aluminum tumblers - color coated in red, yellow, blue, etc.

We had stainless steel silverware. In our house it had fake wooden handles because my brother had a thing for outlets and metal objects. He could demonstrate fire making techniques involving christmas tinsel or alcoa foil - that gave mother fits. (She never found out about the three pounds of gunpowder that he set off in the basement.... I orchastrated a great coverup that left Bro' in my debt for about a week until he caught me trying to use his Erector Set (never could build an erection with the darned thing!))

Mother did wear a hat and white gloves and a dress to go shopping in. We girls had little hats, purses and white gloves for church.

We too had the Coleman stove and boy scout camping cookware, but generally when we camped the food went in picnic baskets on day trips, and was stuff that didn't require refrigeration for overnighters.

Saran Wrap was BRAND NEW and ooooooh so nifty. I do not bemoan the passing of waxed paper that always unwrapped itself or let liquids soak through.

And permanent press was just starting to show up. In the 50's many women ironed their husbands boxers, the sheets, pillow cases, table cloths, cotton bras and slips, and I remember wearing jeans with creases ironed into them.

Even those who still iron have no idea what it was like to wash and starch a whole load of shirts, let them dry, then redampen shortly before ironing with a heavy "dry" iron. The difference between burned and well ironed was determined almost solely by the speed at which one moved the iron!

I used a "press cloth" of heavy cotton canvas to iron anything delicate like rayon, nylon, silk, etc. because the older irons just didn't keep a good temperature that well and you could melt a garment so fast it wasn't funny. Since we sewed, I always had test scraps to make sure the iron was cool enough to use.

Then we got a steam iron that actually kept an accurate temperature... about the time ironing started to go out of style.

Ah memory lane...

Real improvements in daily life:
  1. squeezable ketchup bottles
  2. the evolution of "ketchup" from "catsup"
  3. paper milk cartons - which were preceded by a plastic handle on the old glass half gallon bottles that would slip through your fingers in a heartbeat on a hot day
  4. self defrosting refrigerators
  5. the passing of the wringer washer - the wringer was also called a "mangle" for what it could do to a hand or arm, or God help you if you got your hair caught in it! (My mom let me wring clothes, but my braids were pinned up and I wore a cap, and I had to use two wooden spoons to feed the wringer instead of my bare hands. I did lose a spoon or two while learning!)
  6. Dad and the power mower - some were deathtraps, but try mowing a 50 x 100 lot with a hand mower once.
  7. OOOH... then the neighbor with the riding mower got a snowplow attachment. He did the whole block for the first year.
  8. The birth control pill in the early 60's Even one of the neighborhood's most sincere Catholics said, "When the pope pays my grocery bill, he can tell me to have more kids."

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 10-18-2011, 06:05 PM   #17
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1993 21' Sovereign
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When we went camping, we used paper plates and Dixie cups with the heavy duty plastic silverware. You could also get Dixie coffee cups, which you would put into a plastic frame to keep your hand from getting burned. A white gas Coleman catalytic heater kept us warm until time to get into our sleeping bags, and a honeybucket kept things we couldn't wait until morning to dispose of.
We each had shower sandals and soap boxes on a rope to walk down to the campground shower facilities, a steel percolator, and a toaster that sat over the fire to make toast for breakfast. Citronella oil filled tiki torches kept the mosquitoes at bay. I decided to get cute one Summer and brought along a "portable" television to supplement the 9 volt battery powered AM transistor radio. The thing weighed nearly a hundred pounds, and would (sort of) pick up one station. I had to unplug it and put it in the back seat of the car every night so it wouldn't get wet with dew. I did not repeat that experiment the following Summer...
If the weather was too bad, we'd wind up sleeping in the car, with the bath towels hung inside the windows to afford the illusion of privacy. A small fan blowing over a block of ice (you could buy 10 pound blocks) was the air conditioning.
I thought we were really cool when we finally got a "real" trailer. I actually got plastic dishes and plastic glasses, but still used the plastic silverware. Television still wasn't taken along again until 1982. I never did have the urge to dine in eveningwear.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 10-18-2011, 06:07 PM   #18
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Siloam Springs , Arkansas
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At the risk of being labeled...

We mostly travel in state. Our trailer has it's own kitchen stock. We have given in to plastic dishes, but I still keep a cocktail GLASS and ceramic coffee mug. If I am missing clothes, they are in the trailer from our trips.

I carry a charcoal grill and Coleman stove always.

No need to be un-civilized, after all, it is an Airstream.....


Jeff & Cindy
Hunter RIP

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Old 10-18-2011, 06:31 PM   #19
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I can understand why older trailers had good closet space. My grandpa never owned a pair of blue jeans. He always had a pair of cotton slacks - thats always what he wore and they were always hung up on a hanger along with his shirts and all of grandma's dresses she would wear. They always looked presentable - even working in the yard.
I have changed some of my ways when traveling to be somewhat like my grandpa and I hang by blue jeans, tee shirts and jackets in the closet. My wife is getting better at hanging her clothes though she prefers to have shelves.
They did use the regular silverware and Melmac dishes in their trailer though.
Steve, Christy, Anna and Scout (Border Collie)

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Old 10-18-2011, 06:45 PM   #20
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In the 70's my parents used Melmac dinner plates, ect.

I have always heard, you do not pack glass or china dishes for RV's. They will break.

In regards to clothes, I dress better today than when I was young in the 70's. If you want to see how the older folks dressed, just watch the old WBCCI Caravan movies.

They were wearing the blue berets touring the sites as late as the 70's.

Hardly anyone in my unit wants to wear one today.
Winston Salem, NC
WBCCI 5218,
Corresponding Secretary Piedmont NC Unit 161,
1967 Overlander International.
1979 Avion 30ft rear bath
TV's 88 Chevy Suburban 454, 3:42, TH400
95 Cadillac FW Brougham, LT1,3:42, 7k tow pk.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:54 PM   #21
1972 Travelux Princess 25
Cobourg , Ontario
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Here is a tip I picked up from some reminiscences of a 1930s trailerite. He had a 50 foot black rubber hose for water but it imparted a rubber taste to the water. So he got a canvas hose which did not make the water taste funny and had the added advantages of being lighter, and rolling up into a smaller space.

He also had a piece of galvanized tin about 2 feet wide fitted to the front of his trailer after the Masonite skin got punctured by flying stones on a gravel road.
Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:56 AM   #22
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1969 18' Caravel
, Iowa
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Some of the things I remember about 1960's camping are:
Large aluminum ice chest
Aluminum cooking/dining set that included two sizes of pots (the larger one had a lid with dtatchable handle to be used as a frying pan), coffee pot, and four each of plates, cups
Coleman 'white gas' stove that required pumping to provide gas pressure

And we thought we were pretty 'modern campers' at the time.
WBCCI #4568
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:06 AM   #23
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We spent a last evening watching Bullitt with Steve McQueen.
There is nothing like a well produced movie to capture the essence of a period of time. As I watched the movie I could remember how my parents dressed and acted. In fact Wikipedia has the following to say about Bullitt, "....In 2007, Bullitt was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Watch it and you will see what they are talking about.

My wife noted that toward the end of the movie when Bullitt (McQueen) and Chalmers (Duvall) are having one of their most heated dialogues she caught the first explicative of the entire movie!

How does this relate to the subject of camping, then vs now? This world we live in today is such a different place compared to 45 years ago that I find it is difficult to fully understand the changes without the help of an old movie or at least something visual to stir those memories.....

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Old 12-09-2012, 06:19 AM   #24
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2003 25' Safari
Riverside , California
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My then camping was out of the trunk of a 59 chevy biscayne,adventuring all over California deserts searching out old mines.A coleman white gas stove for cooking and a matching lantern.Of course a shovel came along for the slit trench and occasional road repair.
Now a slick Safari and four wheel drive with big enough tires that road building is no longer needed.Clothing for me is still about the same,I didnt dress to impress back then and I still dont now.Not into showing off then nor now,
My fat Fillet taste just fine,grilled on a mini Q eaten off a paper plate
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:12 AM   #25
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Rockford , Michigan
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First camping memories are from the mid 50's. I remember the trailer much more than the dishes/supplies we used. Though, I'm quite sure the melmac ones in Tina's picture could have been exactly what we used. I never remember using paper plates or plastic ware. At some point, the everyday dishes from the house became camping dishes & new everyday dishes appeared in the house. (probably, when the local grocery store had a free dish give-away)
The trailer was a plywood pop-up my Dad made (yes, MADE) from plans found in a handi-man magazine. It had an aluminum covered flat roof that was raised on a pulley system. Once the roof was in position my Dad would get inside & raise the wooden walls. Trailer set up took about 2 minutes. (& drew quite a crowd) The trailer had everything we thought we needed for camping. It had a small built-in cook stove & an equally small counter that was the galley. There was a full size bed that converted to a table with bench seating. The benches were hinged boxes & the only storage. A feather bed mattress was rolled up & stored in one....There were no plumbing. We did dishes in a dishpan on the picnic table & camped @ state parks with toilets & showers. There was one hinged/hang on the wall type bunk. But, one of the joys of camping was being able to sleep in our own "kid's tent" away from the parents. (The freedom of being a child in the 50's) I don't remember where we kept our cloths, since there were no closets...but I remember my Mom always took a dress for church, a dress shirt for Dad & the 3 girls were allowed to wear skorts to church! (Yes, we went, even on vacation.)
I'll finish my trip down memory lane with a quick conclusion...the green plywood camper became a hunting trailer & once the kids were grown & gone, the parents bought their first Airstream...sometime in the early 70's....complete with closets, cupboards & most importantly indoor plumbing! At the time, I figured they had given up on camping. Now, I get it.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:52 AM   #26
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2001 30' Excella
Somerset , New Jersey
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Hey Mark, I still have that set of nesting pots. Use them all the time.
Some things just never change. Some good ideas just don't need changin either.
Just got rid of my Coleman lantern a few years ago. Wish I had thought to keep it and electify it. Oh well, too late.
Roger in NJ

" Democracy is the worst form of government. Except for all the rest"
Winston Churchill 1948

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Old 12-10-2012, 02:52 PM   #27
1972 Travelux Princess 25
Cobourg , Ontario
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Originally Posted by aircooled4 View Post
Ive been looking in thrift stores for vintage stuff for my '58...just trying to figure out what they may have had in there...good china or REALLY nice china? glassware? and with the radio antenna on the front...may they have had a Zenith TransOceanic? THAT would a fun radio to place in there!
People varied in their tastes and budget just like now. Glass and china were the rule, each piece wrapped in tea towels, tissue paper or newspaper when travelling, to prevent breakage.

Melmac, plastic and aluminum were popular as soon as they became available.

In old pictures of Airstream Caravans you see the ladies in nice dresses, men in slacks and sport shirts or even ties. But these were the ritzy crowd with the expensive Airstream trailers pulled by new Cadillacs, Buicks, Chryslers and Oldsmobiles.

At the other end of the scale you had hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen dressed in work clothes, check lumberjack shirts, and boots.

This goes way back. The oldest trailer club is the "Tin Can Tourists" established 1919. Their badge was a tin can wired to the radiator of their car.

Along in the thirties there was a movement in the club to spruce up and try to improve the old image. This provoked a counter revolution among those who did not want to shave, iron their clothes or otherwise act like "dudes". They called the fancy guys "white pants Willies" ha ha ha.

In 1958 you probably would have seen either Melmac or cheap china and glassware in the kitchen. There would have been a radio, probably a tube portable, a cheap 5 tube kitchen radio or one of the new transistor jobs.

If the trailerite was a radio enthusiast he may well have displayed his Zenith Transoceanic or, if he was a real gone ham, a Hallicrafters TW 2000. Some had transmitters in their cars or trailers as well.

I remember the plastic cup holder with handle that held a paper cup of coffee. Some restaurants used them especially the Jetsons style places along the new Interstate. I'm pretty sure they were available by 1958. For you trivia buffs the plastic cup holder is called a "zarf".

The Long, Long Trailer book was an account of the experiences of Clinton Twiss and Mrs. Twiss, living full time and travelling in their Airfloat trailer in the late 40s. The early chapters are full of information about how they bought their trailer, equipped it, and learned how to live in it.

Mrs. Twiss was not one to rough it. You should read the chapter on what she bought for the new trailer.

The book is on line but I don't have it bookmarked. There is also a web site with some pictures of the Twisses and their trailer. Worth doing a search for if you are interested in vintage trailering.

.......................Later...................... .......

Did a quick search and found the book online
Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:12 PM   #28
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Camping NOW vs. Traveling THEN...

My camping memories date back to the early spring of 1964. Friends of my family had just purchased their first brand new Airstream (they had traded their earlier Airstream that had been purchased used), and they had invited me to join them for a weekend outing in the new Airstream. It was an exciting weekend for a five year old. My most vivid memory is of sleeping in one of the mid-ship hammock bunks. That one trip started my fascination with RVs.

Prior to the above, my traveling experiences had been limited to 12-hour trips between the Chicago suburbs and Carbondale, IL. That was in the days before Interstate 57 so the entire route was 2-lane highway. It was a routine trip repeated approximately once per month.

It wasn't until 1969 that I would take another camping trip. In the very early spring of that year, my parents had purchased a 1969 Chevrolet C20 pickup with a 1969 SunWay truck camper. We made regular weekend trips to Kankakee State Park in Kankakee, IL as well as several to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. Traveling was unpleasant at best in this combination as it was impossible for the entire party to ride in the same compartment and someone was always riding in the camper where communication was reduced to an intercom system that was difficult to understand over the sound of the truck's motor and the sound of wind from the open windows (the truck didn't have air conditioning). The longest trip in this rig was through the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in 1970. The truck and camper were traded in 1971 on a brand new Buick Sportwagon that would be with us for nine years. My most vivid memories are of constantly running out of LP gas, always being on the lookout for a source of block ice for the ice box, and always having to re-pressurize the water system.

As a change of pace, my aunt invited me on a camping trip with the intended destination of Disneyland in California in 1970. Our traveling rig must have created more than a few chuckles. We were traveling in a 1970 VW Westfalia Campmobile towing a Montgomer Wart Tent Trailer. There were five adults on this trip and I was 10 years old. We used paper plates and disposable tableware throughout the trip . . . and my staple was Underwood Deviled Ham sandwiches made from the canned deviled ham that was stored in the ice box. This trip was done on the cheap where we parked behind gas stations (with the owner's permission) most nights. The most memorable part of this trip was that we managed to encounter a thunderstorm every night of the trip . . . the little Montgomery Wart tent camper wasn't ve3ry stable and would pitch back and forth as well as side-to-side during theses stormes which proved entertaining to me, but not so much so for the adults. Between the lack of power of the Campmobile and the terrible weather, this vacation was cut short after visiting Mt. Rushmore.

Camping and traveling for that matter became infrequent until the summer of 1978 when my high school graduation present was a camping trip touring the Western US. This trip spanned all of the states West of the Mississippi, a little more than 30 days and about 12,000 miles. The feature of this trip was a 9' x 12' Cabin Tent with the 1971 Buick Sportwagon providing the motive force. I don't expect to ever make another trip of this link where the weather is absolutely gorgeous the entire trip . . . the tent was never rained on while camping . . . we didn't encounter any rain until the last day about 60 miles from home. We stayed almost exclusively in KOA campgrounds and enjoyed visiting with a Canadian couple who were following the same route that we were for seven days . . . we had tremendous fun sharing notes about highlights of our days drive around the campfire at night. It was during this trip that I learned the joy of sampling local cafe dishes while traveling . . . we ate at local cafes for lunch and dinner each day during this tour and sampled some very interesting local dishes . . . some that I have taught myself to replicate in later years.

Between 1979 and 1995 all travel was relegated to automobile tavel with motels at night. Travel began to loose its interest as I was typically the one who had to deal with packing and unpacking the trunk at each overnight stop . . . and it simply took all of the pleasure out of traveling.

In 1995, I decided that it was time to return to the RV lifestyle for my travel . . . and folling about 6 months of intense searching I located my '64 Overlander. About six months after acquiring the '64 Overlander, I learned that it was the same Airstream in which I had taken my first camping trip back in 1964. That same Airstream continues to be my favorite RV to this day. Each trip in the Airstream reminds me of why I enjoyed that first trip so much . . . all of the comforts of home were close at hand . . . but your location changed with the traveling urge.


Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
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1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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