Sunday, August 12, 2012


I've been craving a canned ham for years.
Not the kind that will expand your waistline
but the aluminum retro kind.
The kind you can pull behind your vehicle and camp in.

This is my mother, Ella, 
and my little granddaughter, Ella, her namesake.
My canned ham craving was put on hold for years 
in order to care for Mama until she went home 
to be with the Lord on March 5, 2012.
I miss her terribly.

For the past several weeks my mornings have started
with a cuppa joe and the internet.
Learning all I can over at the Tin Can Tourists web site.
Scouring Craigslist & eBay for campers for sale.

This Craigslist ad caught my eye:

Vintage 1954 Aljoa Sportsman Camper.
Very Rare, 11ft long, 80" wide with a weight of 1420 lbs. 
All birch wood interior, aluminum exterior, gas heater, 
gas oven, ice box, and sink.  Inside the closet is original date of 
manufacture on a signed certificate.  Original curtains, 
beauty tire rings and original key for the door lock.
Good condition for its age. 
No trades.

Please...Serious inquries only!

I read it over and over.  Oh my.
When I contacted the owner, believe me I was serious!  
The longer I talked to her on the phone, the more excited I became.  
The camper sounded just like what I wanted.
I wanted it!  I wanted it! 

But the hubby reminded me that the price was higher 
than I had budgeted 
we needed to check every nook and cranny 
for damage, repairs, etc.  
He's the sensible one.

We set up a time and headed out on a Friday afternoon 
to make the 1 1/2 hour drive into Alabama.

The first time I saw her, the little as-yet, un-named vintage camper, 
she was sitting in the grass next to the river's edge.

I immediately squealed in excitement.
"She's beautiful!"

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my husband cringe.
So much for keeping things low key with the seller
until we checked the condition 
and found out if the price was even negotiable.

When I opened the outer door, I became very still as I stared.
Most screen doors on vintage camper are either gone
or rotted out at the bottom.
I burst out in happy excitement,
"Oh my gosh, she has her original screen door!"

My husband gave me the "look" but I was beyond reach by that point,
already in love with this little canned ham!

I think the seller probably was beginning to suspect 
that she might just make a sale!

Almost everything inside was still original except for the floor.
No one had gutted her or pulled out her fabulous old appliances.
No one had painted the birch wood walls.
No large or significant water leaks.
Water damage is Enemy #1 of vintage canned hams.

Her vintage stove is missing a knob but otherwise very clean inside and out.
It's a Preway brand stove, which I have never heard of before.  
Few vintage campers have the stove top 
plus an oven AND a bun warmer in the bottom.
Usually you only see the stove top.

Across from the stove was not a refrigerator 
but an ICE BOX!
The door needs a coat of paint 
but the inside tin was not too bad.

Once you take out the circa 1960s shelf paper,
you would be able to put a block of ice on the top shelf.
Then put your food on top of the ice or
on the shelf below to keep it cool.  

Even the seal around the ice box door was still in good shape!

Yes, I swooned over the stove and ice box to the owner, too.
The hubby rolled his eyes and went out to check the exterior.

How fantastic is this?
Which I expressed happily to the owner.  
Hubby didn't hear me, I don't think.

When I opened the closet door, there was the original certificate of construction.
Yellowed and fragile looking.
Make: Aloja
Model: 13
Serial No. 54131187
Year:  1954
Length:  11'
Weight:  1,450 lbs.
Width:  80"

One of two plates on the outside of the camper.

The Aljoa Sportsman
Mfg by
Modernistic Industries
Distributed by
Aljoa Industries
171 W. 135 St.  Gardena, Calif.

No, she wasn't perfect.
We found several defects and things that needed to be fixed.
It will take awhile to bring her back to her former glory.

Happily we were able to negotiate a price with the seller
that we were both were happy with.

The money changed hands.
The seller got a little teary eyed.
I was on cloud nine.
We hugged and she made me promise
to send pics as we fixed the old girl up.

We got on the road with the little canned ham in tow.
The tires were good, held air all the way home.
No sway.  The truck didn't even know she was back there.
I  kept staring back at her through my side mirror.
She's a good lil' traveler.

Almost home!

Pulling through the gate.
I could swear she was smiling,
happy to find a new home.

So excited, our very next meal was a makeshift picnic inside!

There are two happy campers 
on Buck's Mountain.
Me and her, the two of us.

We're a a lot alike, this old girl 'n me.
We're about the same age.
She's sportin' silver and so is my hair.
We're both older, showing those signs of age.
We both want need a face lift.
Doubt I'll get one, but she definitely will!

Now she needs a name.
A cute 'n sassy one
that just fits her.

Next up is the restoration work!

More on Vintage Campers

I found this great book called
"Sisters on the Fly"

Women everywhere are buying these little campers...
...restoring them them individual personalities 
...camping in them
...and camping together for girlfriend fun!

And they are giving their little campers cute names like
Gypsy Chick
Ham Can Inn
Cowgirl Cadillac
Wander Woman
The Tea Cart
Shabby Shack
Porta Party

Go to the "Sisters on the Fly" name page 
to see more camper names!

Check out my image gallery 
of vintage campers on my 
Pinterest Camper Board
Pinterest Camper Interior Decor Board

More of my musings...

Klutz in the Kitchen Making Cheescake Filled Strawberries
The Black Curse or Battle with the Dust Bunnies
An early dates with the hubby

Shot Through the Heart (by Cupid's arrow)
Crushing on The Professor
How I Met Pollyanna Whittier
The Avocado Tree

My Favorite Dolly
It Started with a Pajama Party!
Betcha Can't Pop Just One

Cups for hot mochas.Say Good Night Gracie.
Theory of Pancake Relativity

The Unmade Bed
A lesson in biscuit making
The lost art of letter writing

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