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Ten years as a Happy Camper... Recent news accounts of a homeless Tiny Homes Village destroyed in Denver, recalled my days just one step above homeless. I even raised two AKC registered Pomeranians.
Living In, and Loving, Nashville
By the time my Honey came along, I had been a Happy Camper, living in Nashville, TN, for several years. In fact, I planned on her and Hero for 5 years before I got her. Hero came about a year and a half later. By then I was seasoned in Tiny Living.
Here I am with both my sweet Poms.
What is it Lewis Carol said in Alice in Wonderland? Begin at the beginning and go til the end?
Well, I've already started in the middle... and so far haven't even showed you my Tiny Abode!
I posted this picture mostly for the bottom picture... because it shows the shape and form of the camper and I do not have this picture in my computer.. or some of the interior photos.
By this time I was living in Columbus, OH, and the owner of the trailer park insisted I 'skirt' my trailer... I tried to explain, you don't 'skirt' travel trailers. He demanded... 'Skirt it!'...
So, you see, I did. I also built a 4 X 8 deck and found a 2 1/2 X 6 foot boardwalk that worked perfectly under my step.
Not quite as nice as the cement patio I had in Nashville, but it did the trick.
Update - May 2, 2016 Got the scan!
Proud to have been able to add these pictures.
In the Beginning God Created Heaven and Earth
Oh... I don't suppose I need to go back THAT far.
The first thing I did after we (my late husband, Stan and I) bought the camper was make curtains. They were beige. The walls were beige. It was so bland in there.
I found some blue and white gingham check in my stock. I always/still do have stock fabrics. I bought them when they are on sale and usually $1 a yard. That gingham was NOT that cheap, but I had enough to cover the front windows. The cushions in front, a table that dropped down and made into a bed for 2, were a blue and white paisley in a cotton duck, so the gingham was perfect.
The back cushions, a couch that folded out to make another bed for 2, was brown with a gawdy orange and brown plaid. But I scrounged around and found some peach curtain panels in a semi-sheer fabric that I doubled for privacy insurance and perked up the back area.
Florida - 1982
Stan and I bought the camper to go to Florida. It became his last hurrah, for he died in December, 1982. I've already written about that, so there's no sense repeating it. You can find the story here:
- Bet Me Gambler
LIVED WILD & FREE, DIED WITHOUT OBJECTION Stanley E. Neumann Dec. 15, 1931 – Dec. 14, 1982 HE GAVE ME HIS NAME, HIS FREE SPIRIT, AND THE LAST FIVE YEARS OF HIS LIFE.
For the most part, after that, until I started living in my Tiny place in 1991, it sat vacant. Unused.
When things were getting tough in 1987, I decided to put the camper up for sale. In order to obtain a better price, I decided to put new covers on the cushions. I was an upholsterer for the better part of my adult life, so I moved the camper to my shop and proceeded to 'fix-er-up'. I bought a nylon velvet print in orange and blue floral. Of course, to match the curtains already in it.
Probably fortunate for me, it didn't sell.
You guys got 2 months to figure out what you're gonna do for the rest of your life.
I'm going to NASHVILLE!
That was February, 1991, and I was talking to THE Boyfriend, Maynard, and my Son, Tracy, and his Girlfriend, Krisie. Believe it or not, my Son was the first to leave. Maynard was still there on the porch of my bar, The Palace, waving goodbye as I drove away, pulling my camper behind my 1967 Oldsmobile.
Ready, Set, Go
Before I left I spent two weeks getting the camper ready and loaded. I removed the front table/bed set up and made me a desk. I'm a writer, I had to have a desk. I had a 18 inch wide section of a bi-fold door I put over two file cabinets. I also had a small shelf I had built for the ladies room at the bar that fit between the desk top and the bathroom wall just as if it had been made for there.
I had an auction for the things I couldn't fit into the camper... I mean, I paid an auctioneer fifty bucks to give away my stuff.
(Chuckle) ... was hilarious. I've probably forgotten most of it now, but it took me 5 days to go from Foley, Minnesota to Nashville, Tennessee... (In 1995 I flew to Mpls for my son's wedding, and got there in 2 hours and 5 minutes!)
I do know I was planning to take the 'Scenic Route', and see some of the country on my way, because I really had no time limits. I went on the assumption if I broke down, I'd live there.
So I headed for Rochester, MN but discovered on the 2-lane highway I was holding up traffic! I had to pull over every so often to let people pass. By the time I got to Iowa, I stayed on the freeways... I-80 there... in the right lane. I could not travel over 45 mph, loaded as I was. I had everything I owned in that car and camper.
One time I went into a little town when I stopped for gas, that was one street that dead-ended in about 6 blocks, at the gas station. When I turned around and headed back toward the interstate, some fellow flagged me down and gave me an atlas. He surely believed I was lost!
It did come in handy as I plotted the rest of my route, because I think all I had was a Minnesota map. I followed I-80 to Davenport/Rock Island/Moline where I picked up 74, then 57 to 24 that took me into Nashville.
Following the interstates, I took advantage of the Truck Stops to layover at night. I'd park in between a couple of trucks and not worry about being accousted/bothered. Sometimes I stopped at Rest Stops, but didn't feel comfortable sleeping there.
Trying to get to the back, to my bed was a struggle. I had to carry a lot of things in the middle of the camper for weight distribution, so I had to climb over everything...
I don't remember eating much... but one morning I ate in a Truck Stop I had spent the night at, and when I went to pay, they said it was already paid. God bless the truckers.
I landed at a Truck Stop on Trinity Lane when I got to Nashville. By then I'd learned you could take a shower for $5 that was returned when you brought the towel back. Boy, did I NEED that shower!
I bought a Nashville city map and inquired about campgrounds. They said, 'Yeah, just go across the street (Trinity Lane) and down a little hill. There's one down there.' I stayed there for a month.
For the Music
Of course, I went to Nashville for the music, but it took me a couple years of moving around looking for a cheaper place to park before I settled in a small trailer park on Gallatin Road in East Nashville. I then spent 5 years there.
Before I moved the first time, I pulled all the gas appliances out of the camper; stove, refrigerator and a furnace. I just don't trust gas in a small area, I've heard of too many people asphixiated in travel trailers. I was buying ice and keeping food in a cooler. But the day I moved, I ate a can of something that was bad and I moved into a campground in Hendersonville, and just went to bed, I was so sick. The neighbor in a house up a hill above me felt sorry for me, and thinking it was from keeping food in the cooler, gave me a small electric refrigerator. I still have that thing!
Come to think of it, another neighbor in a mobile home next to me gave me an electric heater.
I built an antique shelf into the furnace race and put a couple of narrow shelves above it. I had a piece of a counter top that had been from a cut out for a sink that I carried around for 10 years... that I put where the stovetop had been, and eventually put a microwave there and I had a toaster oven that went below it.
I scrapped the peach colored curtains in the back and made some blue and white striped ones that was $1 a yard material. And I started painting the interior white. Wow. It made it look bigger. But it was such a chore, it took me about 6 months to get it all painted.
There was a 6 inch shelf way up in the back of the camper where it started to curve at the roof line. I had two 12 inch boards 79 inches long (yes, I brought them with me from Minnesota), so I brought the 6 inch board out and down just above the windows, put the boards behind it and had a 30 inch shelf, with an 18 inch area I called my attic. I also made curtains to go in front of that. Same blue & white stripe.
What I'm sitting on in the photo above with my guitar, is a Formica counter top the same size as my desk top, that I found somewhere along the line, and mounted it on a couple 5 gallon plastic pails for my patio... after I moved back to Nashville.
Contest/Nashville 95 WSM FM Radio/my entry, my car.
Something else I've already written... shows pictures of my car that I used in a contest.
Mark Collie - Shame Shame Shame Shame (fender skirt)
I'm A Pack Rat?
Did I Ever Tell You
What you see here, on the floor of the patio if you look closely, is a gold rug I had on a window display table in my upholstery shop... and another rug, the white/blue and rust one, I just put down in my foyer last week. It was a latch hook rug I made in 1986... a year's worth of TV time. I didn't watch much TV. Now I don't even have one...
Now I've also mentioned two 12 inch white painted boards I made my attic with... I still have those dang boards. They are propped in front of a window that I haven't made a curtain for yet. Well, I've only been here 15 years... And the Formica counter top...
I moved in with a gentleman for a few months. The house he had rented for us didn't have a kitchen counter... SO... I pulled that counter up on top of some cabinets I had on one end and propped with some 2 x 4's on the other end...The 12 inch boards went above it as open shelves with the 6 inch board at the bottom and curved end pieces connecting them together.
Remember the table that I removed from the camper to make my desk? I still had that, and mounted it on the wall for a breakfast nook. It worked. I kind of impressed Robert, too.
I didn't happen to take any pictures of the kitchen, but here is the living room. I bought a couch ($125) and 5 door mirrors ($5ea). The rug under the 'coffee table' (which is a wooden tool box belonging to my late hubby) is the one I tried to explain in the picture of my patio. Better picture here.
The next picture shows a desk I bought for Robert ($12 which he bought off me when I left for $20), having brought my own in from the camper and put it in the spare bedroom. Also 4 barrel chairs I bought ($12) and upholstered (one) before I left...which I kept and sold the other 3 ($45). I also sold the couch for $150.
And I had to show the bathroom. I installed the carpet out of the camper, which I originally had bought for one of the bathrooms at the bar. (I must have left the other one behind...) Also made curtains and a valance out of the curtains I had made for the bar bathrooms.
So I furnished a lot of that house from things in my camper. I kept one of the door mirrors and the barrel chair fit in the camper under the desk. Since the mirrors were new, I only made back what I paid for them.
I also spent a few months as a companion to an elderly terminally ill woman, but I only took in my desk when I lived there.
She decided I was costing her too much money, which I didn't understand because I was using the money she gave me for things she wanted me to buy, and I saved her money by shopping the bargains as I would for myself, and stocking her freezer.
Her son came over when I was putting my things back in the camper and he felt sorry for me. He said it was because she was sick, he knew I was doing my best for her. He gave me $100 to help me get re-established somewhere else. That was a God-send. I almost cried.
The first thing you learn when you're living in a Tiny space is... VERTICAL. The second is WHITE paint. And when I got all the walls painted, I painted pictures. Haha.
You see in the picture above, Hank Williams, Jr., Dwight Yoakam and Billy Ray Cyrus. Unfortunately, they became water damaged and moldy. I still have them and intend to soak the paper board backing off, bleach out the mold and stretch them onto a frame and finish them. In my spare time.
Actually, I should have said 'Everything has it's place.' And this is true. When you use something, you have to put it back when you're done or you have nothing but a MESS!
When I put the carpet back in the camper, there was a hole in it. Yeah... where I cut out for the toilet. Here I put a rug over it. Also, the chair I had re-upholstered was badly stained on the arms because Robert had to sit in the 'nice' one, and he put baby oil all over his arms after his bath... not good.
Also shown here is my little pink and blue puppy that ex hub and his friend won for me at the county fair before we were married. My two youngest kids, Tracy and Tanya, named it Cotton Candy. I still have it, too... kind of stuck in a closet, but I have it. It's over 50 years old...
It was time for a new carpet!
This was an el-cheap-o I got from Fingerbutt. It didn't last long, but it sure looked nice.
I also took the chair out, took it apart and stored it in the back seat of my car. That and the trunk was always full.
If you look closely you can see I made a corner section to my desk, making it U-shaped. I found a wooden sewing cabinet at a Thrift Store ($8) and cut off and re-built a section so it fit between the desk and the door. It was still painted green. It got a coat of red paint SOON, and it was placed on the cabinet that had resided under the desk. The 4 drawers, still sitting on top of it, was re-vamped, painted white, and used on a narrow dresser by the door as a room-divider between the door and the kitchen. I still have both of them. The camper desk fills an alcove in my Keeping Room (I keep everything, you know.), and the drawer unit sits between my toilet and bathtub in my bathroom...!!!
You Can't Have Everything. Where Would You Put It? ~ Steve Wright
What I learned when I left Robert is people will buy things for your price! I discovered Thrift Stores in Nashville! I would buy things... like a painted navy blue night stand, for $4 and sell it for $20! That's money in my pocket. I sold my phone for $25 and went to a store and bought one for $11. I bought many microwaves for $15 and sold them for $45... UNTIL one day I couldn't find one for myself. I had to pay $45!!!
I started yard saling in earnest after selling all the stuff I had bought for the house at such good profits. I set up in a grocery store parking lot on Sundays as it was closed. (You won't find that anymore.) Problem was, if I had to go to the bathroom, I had to load everything up and go home.
I had a friend who lived next door to the house I lived in with Robert, an elderly lady who never drove. She was used to walking to the stores, or riding busses. A few times she would walk to where I set up and sit with my stuff while I ran home to relieve myself. I appreciated it, but I felt guilty for her having to walk (about 4 blocks) for me.
After I built my awning, I started selling right off my patio. I didn't have as much traffic, but I did pretty good. I had a sign out by the street directing them into the trailer park.
I also met two fellows who did cleaning and eventurally fell in with them, first when one of them had some minor surgery, and later took over one restaurant with him. He was legally blind and didn't drive. The older one wanted to cut back on his work schedule, so he did one restaurant, while the younger one and I did the larger restaurant. I eventurally took over both restaurants myself. I started the first one at 8 pm when they closed, then I changed jobs about midnight and had til 5 am to get done. I swear I turned into a mole.
When Your Limo Shows Up - Get In
Okay... That's a joke.
I can't believe I can't find a picture of my truck. The one picture of my camper with the awning is taken over the top of the hood, but I don't have a full picture of it in my computer...
After working at cleaning I saved up a couple thousand dollars and went truck shopping, and found a 1979 Chev Silverado, in 1995, black. I called it Big Blackhawk. I later bought my guitar at a celebrity auction and named that Lil' Blackhawk. Anyway, I put the $2000 down on the truck, and financed the rest for a year. I paid it off in 12 WEEKS....! I also put a new topper on it and drove that baby for 9 years!
(Ah.. the picture with my 2 dogs at the top of the page is on the tailgate of my truck.)
The truck with topper was a god-send... But I also still had my car, which turned into a regular storage shed!
I eventually reupholstered the chair again, since I had bought enough fabric for all 4 of them. (Today, it is in my basement, partially recovered again....on my to do list!)
I Found It!
Well... Sort Of
Big Blackhawk... about 2005, after I parked it. This is the back yard of my duplex.
2 In A Row!
Here it shows the topper. I kept that when I sold the truck. I was going to make a shed and use it for the roof. Just as I was starting to get it together...someone STOLE the topper!
Back To The Camper Days
After A Near-Death, 1996
I had just got home from the hospital after two weeks, on December 28.... 15 minutes later I got a call to come an pick up my first Pom. She was born November 12, and was on order for me... I had to have a friend drive my truck as we went to pick her up.
I named her Honey Pearl Joy Dreym, and you see her in the first photo of this article. Here she is a few years later, after Hero also showed up. I set up these bunk beds at the bottom of my bed for them. Hero is on the top bunk, Honey below.
Hero's full name was Hero Great True Dreym.
Honey was killed by a neighbor's German Shepherd June 15, 2004 at 7 1/2. Hero lived to 17 1/2, and died in my arms June 22, 2015.
Having a dog presented more challenges living in my travel trailer. As I had already been planning for them, I had ordered a 17 inch long doll bed to use for Honey. I took a shelf out of the cabinet by the door and set the bed there. Of course, she wouldn't stay in it. I finally put it into a large net laundry bag and pulled the drawstring after she was in it.
When I moved to Ohio, it wasn't traumatic for the dogs, because I moved their home right with them. Hero was only 4 months old and he grew into his magnificence, as seen in the photo on the deck below, while we still lived in our tiny home.
Of course, this isn't a tiny HOUSE, but it is the same concept, and I did say 'Living Tiny.' It was 10 years of living strictly by keeping the clutter down (very hard to do for a pack rat) and learning to cocoon...
The Cat Lady
Today I Am
I still have 2 dogs, Rebel and Maui, seen in the bottom two pictures... but I have 16 cats.
Four are indoor cats, the three around Hero, plus Blackie Buck, not shown.
The first 3 shown are now grown and are outdoor cats, in addition to: Tootsie, Winky, Blinky, Twinkie, Jackie O. Nassi, Shadow, Tiger, Fluffy and Big Boy.
I need a big house!
Stayed 2 years before going to Rainbow Bridge.
Was the most expensive... 400 bucks.
I got him after Miti died and Hero was all alone...
The first cat, Moni Jewel Abigail, showed up later. She had lost 4 babies.
Raven Lucky Arrow (yes, he was lucky!) got hit by a car, so I brought him and Cisco Pike inside. They were offspring of Dixie Ruby Hope who brought me her first litter, and was the Grand Mama of the rest of them, and many who died... (except Big Boy and Fluffy). I managed to get them all spayed and neutered. Dixie disappeared late May, 2015. I pray (and feel) she is still alive.
Showed up on my doorstep and said 'Let me in!' So I did.
Would I do it again?
But it was 10 interesting years... and now I've come to the end so I will
April 23, 2016
More if you're interested
- The UN-Humane Society
I didn't have a cat in 25 years. A mama brought me 4 babies. Two died of heat exhaustion, the other two were killed by the Humane Society.
- Packrat 101: More is More
I always thought when you aquired something, especially something you've wanted 'all your life', you kept it forever! Even if all your life was only 9 years. Back then I saved marbles...