This week, Sepians were asked to look for mechanical contraptions. I wasn’t able to get out to a shop, so I perused my photo collection for something that would fit. Just recently, I posted a Sepia Saturday post that would fit the current prompt perfectly. It had a clay processing station and two pony traps; but since I don’t really want to recycle a post like that, I’ve come up with a more modern amazing contraption.
1971 Puma Tent Trailer – Vivitar 110 camera
Americans have long had a love affair with the “inexpensive” vacation, camping. The camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting industry has not only grown through the years but thrived with a wide variety of gizmos and gadgets to facilitate the perfect camping weekend. Up until recently, it wasn’t uncommon for families to own or rent tent trailers – a combination of a tent and a travel caravan that had the best of both worlds. This was our tent trailer and it saw thousands of miles of American roadways over its 20+ year lifespan. The tent trailer when closed looked like a oblong box on wheels, but when raised, the canvas sides would expand, the beds would be pushed out (the bit protruding behind the trio there), and it included a propane stove, water pump sink, and flushing portable toilet! This was the height of camping luxury in 1971 when it joined our family.
Jan 14, 1971 Inside of new Puma trailer bought Jan 13, 1971 – Polaroid Print
The dining area of our trailer – Kodak print
Each of the “bedrooms” had curtains that could be closed for privacy, as well as zippered windows to allow in fresh air. The plates you see on the table there we had until about 8 years ago when I gave the camping boxes to a friend. There were four plates, bowls, cups and saucers – red, green, yellow and blue. It got to the point that we each (i.e. my sister and I) had to have our “own” plate. We each had a drawer for our stuff and a space for our suitcase. The icebox took a huge block of ice, Dad had various barbecue implements to cook outside and Mom could whip up just about any sort of meal on the inside stove.
The lemon- Little Deschutes River area, Oregon
To pull the tent trailer, we originally had a blue Ford station wagon – the type with the faux wood siding. The above car was the second station wagon and my mother hated it. It was a lemon in more than color, but I remember this was ordered off the line, special to our needs. It had power locks! The station wagon, once delivered to our home, was then taken to a local mechanic where it was wired specially to feed power to the trailer so the breaks would work, and also the frame was reinforced for hauling. In the early days, the trailer was pulled out by my parents from its storage area beside the house and then hooked up to the car. Pretty fast my Dad bought a special two wheeled pulling device which was crank & chain driven, although I don’t recall exactly what it was called. This allowed him to more easily maneuver the trailer around the corner of the house and down to the car. Having a trailer inspired a variety of special equipment purchases, including a special sewing kit to repair torn canvas, special jacks, mirrors for the car, and tools to fix or repair whatever we could while on the road. Also, a chain saw.
Cutting firewood, Oregon – Kodak print, Brownie camera?
Watching Dad cut firewood – Vivitar 110 shot of the same event
And a minibike. A Honda, as a matter of fact. My mother hated this one.
Hold on tight!
We bought the tent trailer when I was 3 years old, and my parents sold it when I was around 25 or so. After so many years, wood rot had taken hold and the sides of the trailer were just falling apart. They had replaced the uprights that raised and lowered the roof, and upon cranking it up, one of the uprights punched through the floor! It was sold to a scrap hauler who intended to strip it down to the steel frame and repurpose it.
There is so much more I could say about this amazing contraption, our Puma tent trailer, but I will perhaps save that for another day. For more amazing contraptions, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!
And away we go!