Modern gypsies – sort of



We own a modern motorhome – a class C – and  had two other recreational vehicles previously.  We bought the first one in the late 1980s, a small, used travel trailer. The second was a fifth wheel trailer that we bought new.  We’ve had our motorhome for a little over two years.

I’ve been a bit curious about the history of recreational vehicles in America and, last weekend, came across an article from the early days of vehicle camping, “Luxury Trailers create new army of Modern Gypsies,” published in the April 1936 issue of Popular Science.

I’ve republished the article , Modern Gypsies, as part of a reference library of vintage articles and articles I’ve written related to recreational vehicles.  At this point, though, the library is rather sparse, with only three articles.

Needless to say, the campers of 1936 differed greatly from many that we see today.  There are a lot of similarities, though, and a lot of innovation.  There are also “interesting” snippets:

Jack Bartlett, Tucson, Ariz., showman, recently purchased a trailer for $395, loaded into it a trained donkey weighing 800 pounds and a trunk containing fifty horned toads. With these as his performers, Bartlett tours the southwestern United States staging toad races and exhibitions of animal intelligence in hotel lobbies and schools.

An itinerant minister, traveling through sparsely settled sections of the West, has converted a house-type trailer into a portable church. He seats a dozen people, preaching from a small chapel and pulpit at one end. A woman evangelist, Mrs. Julia A. Locke, tours the country in her trailer, preaching from a platform while music is provided by a bungalow-type piano carried within.

The early days of work campers, I guess.


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