I love the old Lucy and Desi movie, “The Long, Long, Trailer.” Why? Because we own its opposite, “The Short, Short, Trailer.”
There’s a great line in the movie where Desi and Lucy are shopping for trailers and have moved in and out of several small models. Then the music stops and Desi mutters, “And then we saw...It.” The shot pans across an ENORMOUS pull trailer that Desi is certain “costs a million dollars.” Of course there is no way they can afford it, but Lucy presses on, “Isn’t it perfect? Let’s just look...” You know the rest of the story. They look - and Lucy talks. In short order, they end up with not only a very expensive trailer but also a brand new heavier car with a brand new heavy-duty hitch, and so it goes. A new car, a new trailer, a new second mortgage... Great movie.
Bob and I go through a similar process, but we don’t get sucked into buying a ton of new stuff. No, we drag home junk. Castoff orphans of the material world. Hopeless rescuers, we envision ourselves transforming what others view as worthless into a work of art. That’s how we ended up with Grandpa’s Trailer. Grandpa bought it in 1955, a brand new aluminum Bellwood (or something or other) with a state of the art icebox, gas cookstove, electric lights, room for six ... tiny little people. Grandpa believed in REALLY using his hunting and camping gear...the more worn it was, the more credible a hunter or fisherman he was. The trailer came with a very short hitch; consequently with every sharp turn, the boat loaded on top of Grandpa’s jeep would put a fresh ding above the front window and jackknifing was just a fact of life. He jack-knifed as needed until the trailer was backed into its spot. More dings, more credibility. And so, the 1955 trailer looked as old in 1955 as it does today, 53 years later.
Long story short, Bob and I were standing outside Mom’s house a few days after Dad died, sipping our morning coffee and admiring The Boar’s Nest as Dad had called it, all duded up among his flowers and enclosed by a cute little picket fence. It is the place where Dad wrote. He had an old typewriter sitting among the Spam cans and fishing gear, and he would go out there to peck out his stories and articles which, sadly, never found their way into print, but which brought him an enormous amount of satisfaction. We gazed on the little trailer and reminisced about my childhood memories camping out in the White Mountains, escaping the rain, playing cards at the table, the hunting trip where I nursed Dad through the flu. You might say it was the, “And then we saw ... It” moment. We looked at each other and started talking. “Isn’t it cute?” “Just think if we repainted the inside, and put a new skin on the outside, and ....” Blah, Blah, Blah.
We talked ourselves into dragging home that banged up trailer all the way from Tucson to Great Falls behind Bob’s new Toyota Tundra. That was after my brother installed a much longer hitch to give maneuvering distance between the canned ham and the Toyota. It was ironic - and funny - to look in the rear-view mirror and read, “Objects in mirror are much closer than they appear.” That little trailer hung close to our bumper all the way home. A few older gentlemen in small-town gas stations would come up, guess its age, and start down their own memory lanes. We enjoyed telling them all about how we were going to breathe new life into Grandpa’s Trailer and link Then with Now, his life to ours.
That was three years ago. We have looked inside it a couple of times, and now one of the tires is flat. Our neighbors have no idea how it got there (we tucked it into the back yard under cover of darkness). Someday we are going to rescue Grandpa’s Short, Short Trailer.
Hopefully we will enjoy a much happier ending than Lucy and Desi.