Stories and Writing
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Hesselmann.
Unauthorized duplication or use is prohibited!
Along with enjoying old cars and trailers, the desire to write sometimes visits me... here are a few stories/thoughts from those times...
I’m the sort that has no trouble falling in love with old things (as anyone who has seen my “collection” can attest).
I am far from wealthy, but rich with dreams.
As long as my family is fed and cared for, if there is something I want, I will find a way to get it.
I did learn long ago that having to PAY for all those wants was beyond my means, so I found other ways (no, I’m not a crook).
The best way I have discovered to achieve ownership of old things, is to simply ask.
Many times the older generation (our parents/grandparents) want desperately to hand down possessions and knowledge to someone who shares their love and appreciation of the things that were their life and heritage.
I say this not to encourage anyone to be less than honest, or to take advantage, but offer it as a way the goals and desires of both parties can be satisfied!
I honestly enjoy, and appreciate the things given me in this manner, and hope to pass my love of times gone by to my children, or a sincerely interested young person when I become too old to care.
Another very successful method (though distasteful to some) is to dig for it!
No, I don’t mean with a shovel, rather “find it” in the midst of other castoffs (trash). Many valuable items can be found at the curb, or in whatever situation comes your way.
A few years ago, an old man died, he was a friend, and had collected junk all his life.
The family came in and like vultures (sad, but often the case) grabbed what they wanted and disappeared again.
(It was sad, I believe, because if they had bothered to come and visit while he was alive, he would have given them anything they wanted...)
I requested, and was granted permission to look thru the junk they left behind.
Two weeks later, and about as many hours of effort, I had hauled away 7 pickup truck loads of “trash”.
All told, the sweat and effort expended came to over seven thousand dollars in profit.
It was hard work, and often unpleasant, most of the things were filthy, but it was one of the most satisfying and enjoyable jobs I have ever taken on!
(The unexpected profit was certainly nice, but the treasure hunting experience was far more valuable!)
It is VERY exiting to look for treasure, and on occasion, be rewarded. Some of the most precious finds (that I will not part with) are a set of Stickly Bros. chairs, an 1880’s blacksmiths anvil, and a lot of little items that remind me of times long ago.
Well, the old fellow also had several vintage house trailers!
Three were just ordinary old trailers, but the 4th was a big beautiful aluminum job!
It was an early 50’s rounded end job, very similar in appearance to a Spartanette.
I had spent 15 years looking at, and longing to own that trailer.
Year after year I tried to justify bringing it home to restore, but could never overcome my fear that it would need so much work.
When my friend died, the family told me I could have it! I spent several weeks going back and forth trying to decide. It was in fair condition, but had its share of problems (the biggest were siding leaks, and the unmistakable odor of rodent).
I would spend several hours at a time, sitting in the trailer at the kitchen table looking over what could be mine, trying to justify the desire.
In the end, I chose to pass, it was 30 footer, much too large for my garage and at the time, there was no way I could have restored it properly. I still long for that trailer (or is it a longing for a time gone by?)
The story gets interesting now, with an odd twist.
My boss ended up buying the land, and all that remained on it.
The property was 12 acres of woods and pasture along a creek, abutting a residential area he owned. As my job includes doing just about anything one can imagine, I was instructed to clean it up and “make a park” (like a city park).
It was something that likely will never happen again in my life, but boy, what an experience! I was PAID to dig for treasure, and allowed to keep the spoils!
Anyway, the fateful day arrived; the old silver trailer had to go.
No more time to ponder, take it home, or “make it be gone”.
After much agonizing, I hooked onto it with the backhoe, and pulled it to the burn pile (please forgive me! I did salvage many parts, and I still have the water heater working away in my shop).
My suspicions and fears were realized (though it brought no joy) when I used the hoe to push the side of the trailer towards the fire.
It collapsed at the slightest touch of the bucket! The wooden framework was so rotten, only the screws in the aluminum had held it together.
Whatever fasteners had been used to secure the walls to the floor had long since failed. Had I tried to pull it at speed, it would have made quite a mess in the road…
Chance, or fate offered this trailer.
I now realize that it was the thrill and excitement of finding, and then receiving an unexpected gift that overcame my sense of reality.
I had neither the time, nor desire to take on such a venture, but the dream was something special!
After a few more years, I had enough saved back to build a teardrop trailer for my son and I to use on a special father/son trip.
He would be 16 that summer, and one last “special” time together was the goal.
He is now grown and gone, and better I think, for the experience.
I have moved on too, rebuilding a “silver trailer”, and then building a wood bodied trailer from scratch.
My youngest is now 13 soon it will be time for another trip…
Much can be learned from the old timers.
Most just waste away their remaining days dreaming about the past, wishing there was someone who cared.
These folks are sometimes looked upon as braggarts, or eccentric, because they grab anyone who will listen, and start telling "stories".
Some may well be "too far gone" to comprehend, but most, when listened to with a careful ear, and a bit of compassion, have wondrous stories to tell.
Their accounts at first may sound like so much babble, but it is a lifetime of memories and experiences they yearn to share.
In this day and age of "instant" electronic information, it is certainly faster to click the mouse, there is a good deal of information available, but slowing down to think...how many of these people ever wrote a paper, published a book, or otherwise shared their knowledge...How much has been forever lost?
There are many people out there, wishing, waiting for someone to tell...
It has been a while since I recounted this story, so let me post it again, this time with a weird personal ending…well, since I can’t find it…
“About 20 years ago, my boss bought a mobile home park out at the edge of town.
The place was old and rundown, my job was to manage it, and “turn it around”.
Along side the park, lived an old man on a 12 acre parcel.
Pretty place he had, wooded, with creek running along side (my kind of place!)
Anyhow, over the years we became friends, he helped me with misc. parts for my “projects” and I helped him with the park’s equipment, mowing, plowing, and whatever he needed, though his favorite pastime was sitting under a grand old shade tree next to the trailer telling me stories.
This fellow had inherited the property from his father, and I swear, neither ever threw anything away!
Sherman, my friend, lived in an old vintage trailer, and had 3 more on the property…along with anything else you can imagine. I had the greatest time “exploring” in the piles of stuff that had accumulated, kind of like treasure hunting!
I was particularly fond of a shiny silver trailer parked along the lane, and for years tried to talk him into selling it to me.
The years passed quickly, his health started to fail…then it happened.
It was Halloween night, he was leaning against the tailgate of his old pickup truck, watching, waiting for the neighborhood children to stop by…it was there, in that pose, that I found him, his eyes wide open, he was gone, but the look on his face was one of watching, waiting for a friend…
A few years earlier, my sister bought a mobile home in the park, and moved in.
A while later she started dating a fellow named Dave, and then married him.
Turns out “Dave” was Sherman’s nephew, after my friend died, guess who inherited the property? Yep, Dave, my sister, and a large number of other relatives.
After the family retrieved what they wanted, they sold the property to my boss, but before that happened, they gave me the old silver trailer.
Long story short, the trailer turned out to be too far gone to even consider renovating, but the memories of long hours spent sitting at the old table in the trailer, dreaming about the day it might be mine…still linger.
I had a picture of the old trailer, but it was very fuzzy, and not of much use for identifying the make, so a few years later, I thought to ask Dave if he or the other relatives might have a better one. A couple weeks later, he brought me an original photo from the 50’s; you can keep it, he said, I have more.
I thought that was the end of the story, but it was not, he proceeded to give me the full history of the old coach, including the story of how, on a cold winter morning, he was born in that very trailer!
This story, like the others is true, no fiction here...
It is one of the many adventures experienced in my youth.
I left home at 14 to attend a Catholic boarding school after running afoul of the law...
The school didn't work out to my liking, and after a few months of hazing and other problems, I decided I was ready to explore the world.
I did return years later and graduated with high marks, and my years on the road were my choice alone...I was always welcome to come home, and knew it without any doubt...
After being stopped and questioned so many times, I convinced my parents to create and give me a letter of permission to be "on my own" even though I was well underage.
Though tattered and torn, and barely legible, I still posess that notarized letter.
At the bottom it says: Our son is welcome to come home any time he is ready!
I suppose knowing that I had a home to return to, and parents that truly cared made a big difference while I was on the road.
I met many young people without hope, that had no place to go.
They were tossed out like old trash, and told never to come back...
I got along very well with my father, but could not, no matter how hard I tried, do so with my mother.
It was so very painful each time I tried to return and get along, but it just did not work, as we were both quite stubborn and independent.
Tears flowed profusely as I left, wishing I did not have to hurt my father so.
Growing up is an interesting and sometimes painful period in our lives...