Neighboring Discourse

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One of my favorite memories when I was young, was my parents building our camper. My Aunts and Uncles purchased ready made campers, but my parents were Do-It-Yourselfers before it was popular.

They built ours. Starting with a sturdy frame of 2 X 4 lumber, they created a cab-over camper with plenty of headroom, and careful attention to details. Every nook and cranny was filled with storage spaces, specific use containers, and details that would be needed and necessary, including a space for the porta potty, just inside the back door. An icebox, a single basin sink, and an apartment sized stove were the kitchen, along with a built in dinette that made out into a bed. Mom covered all the cushions with wipe-down BLUE naugahyde, and the walls were paneled with real wood.

Sleeping BabyBut the best part of the whole project was the exterior covering of galvanized metal, screwed onto the frame.

That part was added after my sister and I had drifted off to sleep each night in the cabover portion of the camper. So, late night hammering and drilling were taking place, every night while they finished the camper in time for our summer vacation.

On several nights, neighbors had stepped out and suggested they work on the camper at normal working hours instead of such late nights… But, that’s when Dad was home to help put the exterior siding on, and that’s when they did it.

One particular night, just a few nights before we were scheduled to leave, they were wrapping the metal around the cab over, crimping the edges, and screwing it into the frame when an officer rolled up in a police car. He got out and strolled up the driveway to where they were working with the camper on jacks to keep it steady, and said, “Don’t you think that’s a little loud for this hour of the night? Some neighbors are trying to sleep.”

Dad looked around at the dark houses around the neighborhood, and pointed inside the camper, “I don’t think we’re being too loud, our daughters are sleeping right up there.”

The officer looked in to see toddlers snoozing away on the cab-over, and walked back to his patrol car.

A couple of nights later, the camper was loaded onto the 1959 Ford Truck (painted the same color blue as the naugahyde cushions) and we abandoned the sleeping neighbors for parts unknown.

That camper holds many memories… Including feeding the whole neighborhood who gathered with us at the Prowers County Fairgrounds during the flood in 1965. But, that’s a story for another day…

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