Friday, June 16, 2017

We could never afford an Airstream - The history of Pop-up Campers.

The History of Pop-up Campers.

I did a lot of camping in my youth. Mostly with the Boy Scouts.

This is like the first tents we used.

Canvas, heavy, prone to leaks, especially if you touched the sides when it was raining. And the waterproofing didn't smell all that great either and had to be reapplies every so often.

Very, let me emphasis very, very hot in the summer.

Four poles pegged together to form the inside horizontal frame which would then be tied to the sides to form the umbrella square of the roof.
Then a center pool supported the roof and formed the peak.
As can be seen in the photo, poles could be used to support the front door flap to make a some what dry entryway. Or for a little shade.
There was no way you were going to use these tents for backpacking. Car camping was their sole purpose. But boy did they look like real camper tents.

Eventually the poles would be made out of aluminum and moved to the outside. The canvas was maybe a little lighter, but otherwise maintained all the other characteristics of the above 'umberlla' tent.

Note the wooden toggle on the tent ropes.




There were even a few with 'extra' room.










The adults would eventually get something a little bigger so they could sleep on cots and be better rested for a pack (troop) of boys.

My first nylon tent looked somewhat like this.
It was made by Wenzel Tent and Canvas company, then headquartered in St. Louis.
(I will dig up a picture of it later.)
But was bright orange.
Front pole on the outside, back pole on the inside.
Lite weight and not very waterproof.
I used it a lot ( I think I still have it ).
Oh yea, and very small.
I did a lot of winter camping in it.
Heat from my body would form condensation on the inside so when I woke in the morning a thin layer of ice would have formed on the inside, and if I brushed against it getting out I would have a small snow shower inside the tent.
Did I mention it was very small?
Last time I used it was about 1994 in Yosemite. Two of us had to fit in it.

But that's not why we are here today.

We are preparing for a trip to Glacier next week, so I have started exploring our tent options for a tent big enough for one large male, a small female and a child.
And while checking out tents on line I came across the above linked site.

So the story of canvas continues.

In the late 60's (for those of you not old enough to remember the 60's, they came right before the 70's) my dad wanted a pop-up camper. I don't remember why. Maybe to make it easier on him and mom. We were getting to big to fit everything into the station wagon (remember those?)?
So that's where the above linked site comes in.
Like, to me, most old things hold a certain romance, just ask my family.
And seeing old photos of things like Coleman stoves (remember when I wrote about all my Coleman stoves?), tents and pop-ups are great fun for me.

This linked site goes through a pretty inclusive history of campers.

I love this picture.

From the 30's or 40's and although probably a lot heavier than campers are now, the style hasn't changed all that much from some modern pop-up campers.










Well, while at the site I thought I would see if I could find the one dad got for his family.

So there it was, The Bethany Chief.

A fiberglass roof.
Two pop-out wings that could (if you were smaller than me) sleep four, with the option of lowering the table to sleep another two.
So six altogether. The add says 6-8, but I don't know where the other two would have gone.
The table seemed pretty large. The bench seats on the sides held gear. And our other gear could be stored on the floor and under the table when travelling.

The tenting over the pop-outs were rubber coated nylon.
And just about very vertical surface opened for screened ventilation.

I think dad got it around 1968 or so. I remember we had it when we went to Colorado in 69 and my then 16 year old brother driving it on those mountain roads.

Most of them was this same pink color.

It was a very durable camper. We survived some big storms in Montauk on a few fishing trips.
There was nothing fancy about it; no stove, no frig., no AC and no lights.
But we used it a lot.
It only took a few minutes to put up; snaps and zippers. Even had a big dining fly for shade and rain protection when getting in and out.




And this is just how the inside looked. ( I still have a couple of the sleeping pads out at the cabin ).
















My brother, not the most creative one in the family, even named one of his dogs Chief because when he brought the dog home, standing in the back yard he couldn't come up with anything else and spotted 'Chief' on the back of the camper.
The camper lasted longer than the dog.



Well it's back to checking out our tent options now, I just had to pause and go down memory lane for a little while.

Thanks for stopping by.














Found a few.

Here is dad in his backyard 1972 with his camper.
 Here is the camper all set up on a fishing trip.
Here is the dog named after the camper.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Boys' Life - The old covers were better. . . . . .

But then I have always felt you could dream more in a painting than you could in a photograph.

I am a life long lover of the Boy Scouts. I may not agree with everything they do now, but they still have my support.

Even now I can still remember some of my favorite covers from the Boys Life magazine.
And being a real big Norman Rockwell fan, his covers were just magic. He was active with the Boy Scout program for many years.

When a cover was illustrated by an artist, I am able to transport myself into the image or scene. While there are wonderful photos, they have never been able to move me the same way. Photos are exact and don't allow much in the way of imagination. Paintings, being less exact allow one, me, to adjust the image in my mind. ( I am not sure what that says about me?).

Here is a new cover. . . . and while it shows a young boy out on an adventure, it doesn't really invite me in or create a scene I want to participate in.
















And here is another I feel the same way about.

While he looks like he is having fun I don't in any way feel I could be part of it.











And here are some older covers that I remember to this day. . . .

 I see these old illustrations and I am remind that I wanted to be in those 'pictures'. I wanted those adventures, and gear, etc.
 For some reason this is my all time favorite.
Two wonderful Norman Rockwell's.












And these two covers were so fun for so many reasons.


















See if you can name all the images.


















While the illustrated cover had been slowly going away for a while when I got into Scouts, many covers were still done by artists. And I also had my brothers older copies.



Here is a self portrait of Norman Rockwell painting at a Scout camp.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Going with the unknown. . . .

Sepia Sat. for June 10th.

What an interesting photo Alan has presented to us this week.
Once again one of those that leave it to us to decide what we want to take from it.

Did we have a box maker in the family? No.
How about a hat maker? Nope.

Did any of our family wear bowler hats? Not that I have seen. Although not to long ago I tried one on and thought it suited me. Wife said no it didn't. In all our old photos we seem to have only one family member that made a point of wearing a hat; Uncle John in London.

He is a tradesman of some sort I suppose. Maybe in veggies. It seems like it would be a good box for veggies. Pack them in and send them off to market. It's not a fancy box. Something made to us maybe just a few times, made out of rough lumber, then burned our used for something else.
He has on a tradesman's jacket. Something to wear over his clothes.

I love the moustaches and his eyebrowes.

But I couldn't come up with anything I could associate with the old pictures I have (probably find one tomorrow).

So I thought I would go with, 'In search of the unknown.'

We have a photo in my moms collection that is an unknown, and intriques me.

 On the back is written, 'Your father and Gorden'.
That's all.


This is the photo.

I have been assuming the older of the two individuals is the one called, 'Your Father' while the younger of the two would be 'and Gordon'.

It is a wonderful photo. The small pipe, the covering on the table. The watch chain. The ring on the mans finger. The glass of I hope Guinness on the table.
Even the 'binky' on the end of the ribbon for the baby.

The pipe appears to be clay, and the man seems to have happy eyes. Is he finally our Irish connection?

There is a drain of some sort coming out of the wall just behind the table.

But other than those four words on the back, I don't know anything for sure about these two.





We do have a Gordon on my mothers side of the family.
Here he is in his uniform from the British Army in WW2.

I have written about him, here, a few times and his time in service.

He is the one I think is the above 'and Gordon'.
If that is the case the photo was taken around 1915.


As I do with most pictures I don't know, or mom doesn't remember, I us Facebook to send them to cousins overseas and see if any of them know anything about it.

None did. 'Your Father and Gordon' remained a mystery.

At least for a while.





A couple of years ago I got in touch with some cousins on my moms side and asked them to send me any old photos they may have of the family so I could add them to my collection.
Well a copy of 'Your Father and Gordon' was amongst my cousins collection.
Except on his file it was labeled 'Cyril'.

One more piece of the puzzle?

So with that bit of information I once again inquired of overseas relatives and asked if anyone knew of 'Cyril'.

None did.

Jump to yesterday.
Each time I go over to moms now I usually pull out some of her 'old' stuff and start to go through it.

My daughter had a blast going through old jewellry with her,  (she even went home with a couple of pieces!).


Well, while they were doing that I discoverd a bunch of old letters exchanged between my mom and dad and family 'back home' from the late 50's through about 2005.

So I brought the letters home and over the last few days have been going through them finding wonderful bits of family history that I was to young to remember back when they were going back and forth over the ocean.

A couple of the letters were from an aunt I never met.
She died before I was old enough to know her.

Well last night before we went out I had a bit of time to go through a few more letters dating about 1956, just after we came to America.

Now as many of you know letters like these were often the only way relatives overseas found out about the passing of someone, whether family member or family friend. So the letters were a source of news to distant relatives.

Well while going through one of the letters from that aunt last night she wrote a line about '. . . how Auntie Edith was missing Cyril.'

CYRIL! Could it be one and the same? This is the only other mention of Cyril other than the label on the photo from my cousin.

It at least gives me somewhere new to start. One more piece of the puzzle.

There have been other pieces of puzzles to come out of some of these old letters about other family members, and I hope to share some of those discoveries here some day.

For now, I'm off to hunt the elusive 'Cyril'.