Editors Note: I talked with Syl and Sylvia on Tuesday, July 6th. We sat in their backyard on Allegany Avenue and they told me about their many camping adventures. Sly sat beside me and Sylvia sat across the picnic table. They are both 84 years old and have been married for 64 years. It was obvious that they have shared many adventures. The conversation flowed along and each could finish the others’ sentences, if necessary. Both have had their share of health problems that come with their ages but they are still planning camping adventures. “We just take shorter trips now that we are older,” said Sylvia. Following are their memories of their first camping trip, in their own words.
I had two weeks vacation coming from GE, without pay, in the summer of 1952. We decided to modify the cattle trailer we had and go south toward Florida until our 100 dollars ran out. The trailer was the kind farmers use to haul cattle to market. I put roof trusses over the top and then covered it with a tarp. It covered the sides and when folded back on the ends, it covered the entire trailer for traveling. I found some four-foot two by twos, and used them to hold the front and back of the tarp up when we were camping. I mounted an old door on one side of the trailer and we utilized a mattress off the children’s bunk beds. The kids, Bev and Bob, slept on the floor. We hung our clothes on hangers on the slats on the side of the trailer and the smaller clothes went into boxes, which were placed on the floor in the front of the trailer. I mounted a 2-burner kerosene stove on the front of the trailer tongue and our groceries went into the trunk of the car. Sylvia made lace curtains to hang over the front and back end to keep the flies out while we were camping.
We took off from Fort Wayne on Saturday morning on State Route 27 and headed south. Our plans were to stop at night wherever it was convenient. It was safe to do that back then. We were both 32 years old and our kids, Bev and Bob, were 11 and 9.
Our first stop was Renfro Valley Barn Dance facilities in Kentucky. They would broadcast the show over the radio that we could hear in Fort Wayne. We parked our camper in the back end of the parking lot with the idea of staying there overnight. That evening we enjoyed the Renfro Valley Barn Dance Show. After the show they announced that they were having a church service the next morning and invited all the folks to attend. We stayed for that service and enjoyed it very much. After church Sylvia made lunch and then we headed south.
When we got further south we saw a sign pointing to Cumberland Falls. When we arrived at the falls we were so impressed that we found a campsite and decided to stay two nights. We roamed the area on foot, visiting the falls and swimming in the water below the falls.
We continued our journey toward Florida, staying in a peach orchard in Georgia, at a small swimming pond in Florida, and then found a campground at Ormond Beach, Florida. I believe the campground is still there and we paid 25 cents a night to camp. We had our trailer backed up to the Atlantic Ocean and I can still feel the breeze that blew through the trailer that night. We left our camper parked and drove around the area while at Ormond Beach. We traveled the full length of Daytona Beach that was 35 mile from one end to the other. We stopped several times to wade in the surf, go swimming and just enjoy the beautiful ocean, the birds and the clouds. We enjoyed watching other people enjoying themselves as much as we were.
One time on the beach, Sylvia was making lunch and she had the coffee pot on the kerosene stove. She left to do something and the coffee got hot and started to boil over. The next thing we knew we had a fire going up the lace curtains. I visualized the whole camper going up in flames. I grabbed the lace curtains, yanked them off the camper and threw them on the sand. No more curtains on the front of the camper for the rest of the trip. We then headed home. Somewhere in Georgia we had a flat tire on the camper. I took off the wheel, took it to the junkyard and exchanged it for a wheel with a good tire. Cost was 3 dollars. We arrived home the second Saturday of our vacation, very relaxed and we still had 5 dollars left.
We just take shorter trips now that we are older. We have been members of the Avion Travelcade Club for the past 27 years and have traveled with a camper in 49 of the 50 states.