An amazing contraption!

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

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

Jan 14, 1971 Inside of new Puma trailer bought Jan 13, 1971 – Polaroid Print

camping 2

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

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?

camping 3

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!

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!



I love Sepia Saturday because it keeps me posting at least once a week when life gets hectic. This week’s prompt features Boadecea (Celtic queen of the Iceni tribe which rebelled against Roman rule in Britain, AD 60 or 61). At least, it features an actress dressed as Boadecea, since photography was invented a couple thousand years after Boadecea’s heroic acts in the name of Britain.

Of course I have lots of pictures in costume, just not many from the 19th century. The amazing Cabinet Card Gallery features tons of cabinet cards of actors and actresses in various costumes. Since I have more modern photos, I thought I’d share one that has been in my family for many years.

Pioneer family

Pioneer family

This photo was incredibly difficult to photograph because the glass reflected every little glare! You can still see my hands and camera, I apologize. It is framed professionally so not possible to remove the photo for scanning.

The photo itself was taken in the late ’70s. Visitors who know anything about historical fashion will immediately question the dating because Mother there is wearing an Edwardian dress and hat! As well you should, this is MY family in the 1970s, hehe. I have done this to you before, Sepians, but this photo was actually taken by a professional photographer and gave us an idea of what it might have been like to sit for a portrait 100 years prior.

We were in a little town somewhere in the Western US, maybe in Colorado. I don’t really remember. The dresses are over our regular clothing and nothing matched. My sister’s dress was a turkey red and mine was a light pink. My mother’s dress was either lavender or light blue. My dad has a black drape over his legs to make it look like he is wearing slacks. I can remember thinking it a long and arduous process because the photographer would come and rearrange a tiny detail, go back and look through the camera, come back and rearrange a tiny detail, etc etc. The original photographers really did think of themselves as artists and arranged photographs with composition and imagery in mind. Then of course we got the giggles. It was very difficult to not smile, in particular for young girls with lots of energy. But also, we were relatively spoiled at this point by instant photographs. The concept of not smiling and holding still were so foreign to us, it was difficult to hold it for just a few minutes.

Regardless, this photograph hung in my parent’s home for 30-some years. When they moved to a smaller home, I took the photo and now it hangs in my house. Most people don’t think it is anything but an antique photo depicting a loving family. I love that my mother had it framed to look antique, as well. One day it will be in actuality an antique photo, haha, but at this point it is a neat family treasure.

For more photos of people in costumes, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

Playing around

Happy Halloween!

Me and my sister (I’m the witch) on Halloween. Happy All Hallow’s Eve!


Scouting, a family tradition

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt was chosen in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts and the recent centennial of the Boy Scouts. Girl Scouting was a big part of life in my family growing up. Back when my sister was a Brownie scout and Mom was the troop leader, I wanted to participate. As a kindergartener in the early 70s, there were no options for scouting, you had to be in 1st grade! Well, Mom called me the troop mascot and I did everything the older girls did. The following year I officially joined the Girl Scouts, and happily found a troop every year.

A fashion show of some type, Troop 1902, 1976

Some of the projects we did were good for us – Mom taught us all to sew a button, make a straight stitch, and do a couple Xs. She did this by having us make a smiley face on a circle of fabric scraps she had in her sewing room. Quite practical but also a fun little thing for girls to do. We went camping a lot. Camping was quite the thing to do in the 70s and 80s in Orange County, California. Probably everywhere, really. We “practiced” for our first campout in the living room. Each girl rolled out a sleeping bag and pretended to be asleep. The rest of us waited a moment, then started caterwauling like wolves howling, owls hooting, and who knows what else. The “sleeping” girl got up, found her flashlight and made her way to the bathroom, returned and got back into bed. Then when the “sun” rose, she got up and rolled up her sleeping bag. Next girl took her place and we did it all over again. I hope the Girl Scouts issued bottles of wine to the leaders!

A junior Scout meeting in the family room, not sure what we were doing!

We also were made to sing at convalescent homes. I really didn’t like that but I knew it was good for the people living there. That activity above all others might have taught me the process of putting others before myself. When the old folks came out to listen to us little girls sing Christmas carols or happy songs for May Day, I could see that it really meant something to them, so I put aside my dislike for the smell and other uncomfortable things, and just sang my little heart out for them.

Through the years, I was able to find a troop at most of the schools I attended. Since I switched schools a lot, this was reassuring. The familiarity of the Girl Scouts welcomed me wherever I went until junior high school; there was not a troop affiliated with my school. Here in California we have a 2-year junior high school for 7th and 8th grade. Fortunately by this point, my older sister had once again forged the way and found a Cadette troop in another school district. I joined up with them and stayed with that group through Seniors. Both my sister and I were Girl Scouts for 12 years, uncommon in modern America. It wasn’t “cool,” it wasn’t “hip.” It was fun and that is why I did it.

I earned many badges and patches through the years and I am coincidentally trying to recover and collect some of the missing insignia for my old uniform as I discovered my badge sash recently. I’d like to get it framed and display it for the little girls when I inevitably become a troop leader for my daughter. My sister earned First Class, which is the equivalent of an Eagle Scout. Unfortunately I didn’t earn it and then the program changed; I was disheartened and so didn’t try to earn the new award. That’s okay, I still look back to my Girl Scout days as some of the happiest and most fun times of my life. I can still remember the troop numbers – 1902, 1035, 616 & Iris 102. Funny how that stuck for so long in my brain!

My old badge sash and a few extra badges

For more great posts and pictures about Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, alternate scouting programs or anything else, click over to Sepia Saturday.

Blazing trails around the world


For this week’s Sepia Saturday I have a photo from the 1970s of my mother carving a turkey. From the perspective I believe my sister or I took the photo because she is looking down at the photographer, i.e. a little kid ha ha. Her note on the back of the photo says the turkey was very good, stuffed and cooked on the barbecue. I imagine it roasted quite some time on the spit, slowly turning it round and round. Mom used an electric knife for many years, until she was given her father’s ham knife, and then it was over. To this day I ask her to carve the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. Mom is a great cook and loves to entertain; they are known for their many parties and great meals that brought together family and friends throughout the year.

The turkey was the centerpiece to our Thanksgiving dinner, but we had turkey for many other meals as well. This could have been any time of the year, really, and we never discriminated what meal would feature which dish. For many years, we enjoyed a Christmas dinner of Kara Age (ah-gay), which is Japanese for “browned chicken.” The chicken is cut into bite sized pieces, then marinaded in a wine & soy sauce mixture over night; finally it is dredged in corn starch and cooked in hot oil in a wok. We are not Japanese, but this is still a family favorite.

This photo was taken before they remodeled their kitchen in the late 80s/early 90s. The counter tops were 4″ avocado green tiles and we used a small brush to clean the grout in between – and there was a large counter/bar where we ate breakfast in the morning and lunches on the weekend. I wish today that I had a kitchen laid out half as nicely as hers was. She had lots of counter space, a nice double sink, and a double oven!

For more mouth watering photos of holiday foods, click the button below, then jump off the deep end and into the mashed potatoes and gravy.


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