Saturday, June 5, 2010

RV Hall of Fame Museum and Library, Elkhart, IN

Saturday, May 29, it is 60 degrees when I get up at 8:00 a.m. The high gets to 82 later. We had the windows open all night and it was cool with the Fantastic Fan going. I admit it was a bit smoky late last night.

After breakfast and a stretch we're off to Elkhart to tour the RV/Mobile Home Museum/Library/Hall of Fame. First we stop at the post office to mail some cards and an anniversary packet of Travis and Callie's wedding journal pages to my Mom and Dad for their 62nd wedding anniversary on June 5! The Bristol post office is open until 1:30/ We get there at 11:50-plenty of time.

1935 Kumfort Travel Trailer looks a lot like our 16-foot Casita we used to have.

We take 120 est to CR 17 north to the RV Hall of Fame's current 80,000 sq.ft. location since moving to new digs in 1999. Admission is $8.00 each and a volunteer guide points out the path to take and then we're on our own.

1954 Shasta 15-foot Travel Trailer-the year I was born! It has a gravity water system with a reservoir in the cabinet above the sink

The new RVs are first on our list. We see models ranging from pop-ups to motor home coaches. But we're anxious to see the older stuff so we head for RV Founder's Hall to view the historical exhibits. We follow the macadam roadway and enjoy a wide range of old-time campers.

1954 (Good year!) Holiday Rambler Travel Trailer has double-wide "army stretcher' type bed with canvas between steel pipe bars located above the standard bed.

Love the old refrigerator in this 1954 Yellowstone Travel Trailer. The kitchen range was also a residential apartment style unit.

1962 Mallard 13-foot travel trailer includes a kitchen, dining area and beds for up to five people! Toilets were yet to become available.

Bob inspects a 1957 Serro Scotty 10-foot Teardrop Trailer

This 1939 Schult 8 x 20-foot House Trailer is one of the models where we both banged our heads in the short doorways of these old travel trailers in spite of all the signs saying "low clearance."

One of my favorites is a 1915 Model T Ford pickup with a 'telescoping apartment' that features a rear bed, and a kitchen and shower that slides out on each side. Warm water for the shower is produced by radiant heat from the engine! None of this is covered so you are totally dependent upon good weather.

1915 Model T Ford 'slide-out' kitchen

You gotta love this "Auto Refrigerator"! I wonder how cold it kept things in Texas in the summertime?

This 1932 Zagelmeyer Tent Trailer looks a lot like the ones the Harley riders pull behind their motorcylces today.

Now that's a commode!

I've seen double-decker golf driving ranges but never a mobile home park!

1946 Studebaker one-ton truck set up with a 5th wheel style hitch to pull a long, long trailer; price new=$1,285.

Star Streak II, second of two custom built all aluminum motorhomes. Built in 1988 using a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Chassis and a 1976 Olds Toronado 455 cu. in. engine. Designed to fit in a standard garage; length 270 inches, weight 5400 pounds, height 83 inches.

1969 Stites Chassis Mount Truck Camper. Example of the first Lance camper-like slide-ins that outgrew the ability to be slid in and out of pickup trucks and required the truckbed to be removed so the camper could be mounted to the cut-off truck cab. This actually morphed into Class C motorhomes of today.

A classic yellow 1974 GMC motorhome has the first airbag suspension system

Bob watches the Winnebago video in front of their classic 1967 Motor Homes. If you purchased 100 shares of Winnebago Industries stock in 1966 for $1,250, the stock split into 64,000 shares and grew to $1.98 million as of 9/5/2005. There was no discussion of what happened to the value in the past two years!

I have to put the Airstream Ranch in Florida on my bucket list since we've seen the Cadillac Ranch in Texas!

The museum is home to the Mae West Housecar, a 1931 Chevrolet. Paramount Studios used it as an enticement to get her to leave the Vaudeville circuit and make movies for them. It is designed as a chauffeur driven lounge and not at a 'camper' unit. She even had a porch on the back with a rocking chair.

And we saw the 1935 Covered Wagon, one of the first RVs, that we saw a few years ago at the Gilmore Auto Museum. In 1935 Covered Wagon was one of the largest trailer manufacturers in the country and produced one out of six "house trailers" built in the U.S. The exterior is "genuine leatherette"over a thin plywood shell and the roof is covered with coated canvas stretched over tarpaper.

1935 Covered Wagon Travel Trailer

One thing that struck us is how few changes have been make over the years. Many of these looked the same inside as both of our full-time RVs. Only the materials have been updated.

1913 "Earl" trailer and Model T Ford-the oldest RV known to exist.

The 'Earl' trailer has a dining table that seats four, then converts to a double bed.

After we view all of the models we head upstairs via The Grand Staircase to the library. Here they have years and years of "Motortrend", "Highways", "Trailer Life" and any publication related to the RV industry.

Follow the macadam road down memory lane at the RV Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, IN!

I buy postcards in the lobby and snap a picture of the building outside. As we stare at the Tollway, appropriately enough, a Casita travel trailer like our little one zooms by.

A Casita zooms by the RV Hall of Fame

In the lobby I found a brochure for Lucchese's Italian Restaurant at 655 Cty Rd. 17, just south of 120. It turns out to be a great place. I have Penne ala Vodka in creamy red sauce with basil. Bob enjoys Baked Beef-filled Tortellini with tomato sauce and mozerella. Their side salads are very fresh and the Poppy Seed dressing is a winner.

We're home by 3:30. The gal at the office stops up on the way in. She didn't see our tag in the windshield and asked if we were visiting for the day. Geez! We can't cut through the site next to Don and Reva like we usually do to park in front of our rig. There are so many campers in the Park we have to go all the way down the hill and back around. What a mob! It's like Phil's in Michigan on the 4th of July that we encountered our first year out on the road and were so shocked by.

It's 4:40 p.m. and 82 degrees with 31% humidity. I get on-line and work on one journal page from May 2. Wow! I'm behind again. A young couple in a motorhome pulls in next to us but can't get level or else realize they're in the wrong site. So they pull across the road.

I go for a walk around the campground with my camera to snap pictures of The Zoo. I'll post 'during' and 'after' the holiday pictures later. There is one half of a row of "RVers", not "campers", on the far side of the campground. They are just here overnight or for the weekend basically hiding out for the holiday. They have no awnings out, no lawn chairs out, no BBQ pits out, no corn hole games and the windows are closed and the A/C is on to keep the smoke out--Just like us!

In this sea of humanity no one waved at me as I walked around the Park except for Dianna who I saw on a golf cart. I took pictures of all the jam-packed rows. As I neared our section I see Jim building a fire for a BBQ by his deck. Betty's sister and son Don from Goshen near here are on the deck. I told him we saw him opening up their trailer a few days ago. He said he checked for leaks and everything was good. Good thing he turned off the water again before he left.

Bob is online when I get back. I read my book as late afternoon clouds move in. We watch a recorded Good Wife. Chris, the owner, comes and looks at Rick and Debbie's empty site next to us (the only one left in the Park I think.) Ten minutes later a Class C pulls in. It looks to be Grandma and Grandpa with two boys around 9 and 12 years old. The fire pit ends up inches from the front wheel of their motorhome. She lights the fire in it while he's gone to the pool with the boys. He does a lot of gesturing when he returns and makes her put it out-thankfully! She puts brats on the grill on top of the picnic table. He tries to get the awning out but has no idea how it works and gives up in disgust.

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