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September 7, 2017 The Hesston RecordSeptember 7, 2017 The Hesston Record

Camping In Style

Posted 8/3/2017

RECORD STAFF

When it comes to building a better world, there are few buildings more efficient and more geared toward fun than campers from the 1960s.

The final Summer Reading Street Fair featured three vintage campers, complete with their own themes and decor.

Teresa Huffman of Marion brought her 1965 Scotty camper for kids and adults to explore.

Huffman described her camper as a “rescue” she found half-demolished in a hedgerow. 

“The tires were rotted, there were mouse nests, it leaked like a sieve. It was full of mold and mildew. But I had been looking for a long time,” she said.

Before rescuing her Scotty from its hedge, she said she would cruise alleyways, leaving notes on the windows of campers she found along the way, asking the owners to contact her if they wanted to sell.

The Scotty that caught her eye was stripped down to the bare wood and rebuilt.

“I had to have her skinned, have new wood put on her, new lights on the outside,” said Huffman. 

Now, she said, her camper has become a home of its own.

“I just love them. They’re called canned hams and I just think they’re really cute.  It’s a good thing I don’t have room to store them,” Huffman said.

Further down the block, Mary Beth Sweeley of Hesston got her camper out into public for the first time since purchasing it two years ago.

“We’re in town, so it was an easy-peasey first outing.  It pushed us to bring her to this level,” she said.

Sweeley said when they purchased the camper, it was in good condition, but like any vintage object, it has a history and a life of its own, full of querks.

“You have to want it and you have to really want one and want to fix it up. It is a lot of work. It’s a buyer-beware thing. When we bought this it was in good shape, but you take back the layers and they’re notorious for having damage and needing repairs,” she said.

However, customizing a camper is part of the fun of owning and restoring one, she added.

“If you talk to most gals, it’s having your own little doll house again - just revisited. You glamp it up and have fun with all the vintage items.  It’s just fun. You have the culture and the community of ladies that are getting into it. It’s kind of scary to think that there are other people out there and are crazy like me,” she said.

Sweeley added it is “soft camping” bringing campers off soggy, hard ground and providing a few creature comforts. 

Hesston Public Library Director Libby Albers brought her own camper “Eileen” to the show.

“I like the old stuff,” she said.

Albers added she and her family take Eileen out camping regularly during the summer. 

“It’s still a work in progress.  There are still some squishy spots and paint that needs added and it needs a good cleaning,” she said.

Albers said the final street fair was inspired by the conclusion of the Summer Reading Program.

“We’ve been talking about houses and apartments and trailers and places people live. We wanted to fit a fun, hands-on activity that would fit into the theme of homes. 

“I wanted to bring out these club houses on wheels,” she said.

Albers added children and adults appreciated the nostalgia of the campers and being outdoors in a different way than modern campers offer.

These aren’t the camper of today when you go in and shut the door and turn on the TV and sit inside the whole time.  These were meant to be a place to go and sleep, have a meal, but camping was still something that was primarily outdoors.

“We’ve had adults that have shared a lot of memories that remember camping in these. And the kids have really loved the play house aspect,” she said.