My obsession began several years ago when my daughter “Duckie” Dawn (a nickname she inherited at Grand County High School) found a teardrop mired in a horse pasture in Spanish Valley. She had to trespass on private property to get a better look at it and decided we had to have it. She found the owner and settled on a price before we were able to chip it out of the ice in the pasture where it sat for the past 20 years or so. After we freed it up from its icy location we put tires and wheels under it. We dragged it out to dry ground where it was loaded on a trailer. Thus began the process of restoration. The teardrop was one of 16 that was manufactured by the Kit Manufacturing Company of Norwalk, Calif., and sold in 1945 as a kit to be assembled by the purchaser. A man assembled it in Ohio, with help from relatives in Moab, and the trailer soon made its way here, where it remained. I wanted to restore it back to its original state — but Duckie had her own ideas and wanted some kind of a steam punk theme — so we were constantly disagreeing on how it should look.
In the meantime, I found another teardrop in Colorado and struck a deal with the owner and soon brought it home to be restored. It was built by Kit Manufacturing in 1947 and sold to a California couple that eventually moved to Colorado, where the trailer sat for many years and still had the original 1947 license plates on it.
Several years later, a lady from Lemmon, SD, called me and wanted to know if I wanted to buy another teardrop. The pictures she sent showed the trailer buried in a stand of trees and bushes and obviously needing a lot of work to restore. It is a Modernistic model that was probably built in 1946, but other than that there is not much known about the manufacturer. We brought that one home a couple of years ago and I am currently in the process of scraping layers of paint off of it and restoring it back to its original glory.
To show off their trailers and to learn more about how to rescue and restore them, trailer enthusiasts gather at rallies, which are held all over the country nearly all year long. Pat, Duckie and I attended such a rally last week with our teardrops in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., along with 54 other vintage trailer enthusiasts. It was held at Windsor Beach at Lake Havasu State Park, not far from the relocation site of the famed London Bridge. There was a large variety of beautifully restored camper trailers there, including about a dozen teardrop trailers. Derderian and Annie Goodenough were also there in his restored Boles Aero, one of several that he has either road ready or in the process of restoration. Most of these events hold an open house where those with trailers and members of the community can visit and look or walk through the vintage campers. They usually have a potluck dinner during the event — and in this case they also had an evening to share snacks and a drawing to win prizes.
The people who attend these rallies are friendly, knowledgeable and eager to share ideas on where to get hard-to-find accessories and parts for the trailers. During one evening I even got acquainted with a woman whose grandfather was my father’s employer in my hometown of Escondido, Calif., and discovered that I rode motorcycles with her uncle back in the day. We enjoyed an hour of reminiscing stories about our old hometown and friends that we knew.
Of course on the way there, and on our return home, we did some sightseeing along the way. The Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada was interesting in that it derives its name from red sandstone formations much like our own backyard. We also stopped at Oatman, Ariz., an old mining town that is now supported by tourists, again much like our own county seat. In Oatman, though, there are donkeys that are descendants from those left behind by the old gold miners that roam the streets in search of a handout. Pat witnessed one donkey that grabbed a bag full of hamburgers and French fries from a man who was taking them to his family. The donkey proceeded to scatter the food on the ground in search of a meal.
One reason for our trip was to get some warmer weather. Our highs in Lake Havasu were in the 80s, and 50s for the lows. Our own weather observer Bob Russell said our January was a little warmer than average at 42 degrees, compared to an average of 40.2 degrees and our minimum average was 21.9, rather than our 21.1-degree average. We received one snow day in January with 3 inches compared to an average of two snow days of 3.8 inches.