A Trip of a Lifetime
By Ellen Storer- Bluffton, SC
My First RV Trip began in 1945 when my brave parents bought a trailer. This adventure started when I was 9 months old. We spent the winter in Florida and spring in Mississippi. Since we seemed to enjoy it, the decision was made to see the country. So, my parents, my grandmother and I, all of 20 months old, headed west. As I came to understand it, the few campgrounds available were very primitive, so water had to be carried, dish water thrown out the door— like tent camping. There were no coach batteries or propane to maintain the refrigerator, so blocks of ice had to be purchased frequently. There were no TV, AC, holding tanks, showers or washer/dryers. I had a special crib my father made, which hung from the ceiling at night and clamped up out of the way during the day.
A 1942 Plymouth car pulled the trailer. Two-lane federal highways were the roads of choice, as the interstate highway system hadn’t been developed. Stopping at night or for several days at a gas station, some farmers’ field or a home driveway was commonplace. Conversations lasted well into the night between my parents and property owners, some of whom even did our laundry, showed my father the best places to buy a bushel of oysters and other local favorites. The four of us spent about two years full-time going to such wonderful places as San Antonio, Phoenix, Tucson, Mexico, the Painted Desert, Santa Monica Beach, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon with a Park Fee of 50 cents a month. We had the luxury of time and could go wherever and for as long as we wished. Meal times consisted of picnics as our small trailer was not conducive to sit down meals.
After two years on the road, we were among the original snow birds, hauling the trailer to Florida each fall and back north each spring. There still was no interstate system, just Route 1 and 301, with small motels, local restaurants and Stuckey stores lining the highway. Each winter, we stayed at the same campground, as I had to go to school, splitting my school year between New York and Florida.
I got the travel bug rather early and continue the “Trip of a Lifetime” with many more conveniences, but still taking federal highways to better see this country and observe the culture and structure of America. As I travel these highways, some of which I’ve been taking for over 60 years, I wish I’d asked more questions of my family about how they actually managed full-timing in the 1940s. My memories of the first segment of this Trip are from stories told, pictures taken and journals written. Taken all together, it was quite an experience and a story of some very brave and adventuresome folks, out to see this wonderful country we live in, the USA.
Submitted by Ellen Storer- Bluffton, SC as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.