By Steve Katkowski
Well, just exactly where do I start here? Nobody likes goodbyes, right? I know I don’t. S0000, let me open this letter with a friendly “HELLO” Hello to all the trailer buddies I’ve made over the years. All of us got started in this hobby with a good story, here’s my story and I hope you enjoy it.
Many years ago I received a phone call from a guy in Florida who was selling an antique trailer. He told me it was like new, never used. Parked in a barn since 1953. Suuuuuuurrrrrre, do you think I would believe that? I had at the time already bought the deed to the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. Could this be another opportunity to impress my wife at how stupid I could be?
I passed on it because it sounded too good to be true. In fact, I passed on it several times when he persisted with his calls. One time he said “Steve, you are going to buy my trailer!” Well, curiosity got the best of me. I was going to Michigan to visit family, so I made a simple change to my ticket and made a stop in Florida. This was a real experience guys. I was picked up at the airport by a guy in an old Dodge van that looked like it could have been in that old black and white photo of Hiroshima after the bombing ended WWII. Rust holes, smoking exhaust. And when he stopped, it was in front of an old building that didn’t look much better.
How was I going to explain to Jenay that once again I went on a wild goose chase? First of all, I’d never owned a vintage trailer. The hobby was in its infancy. Secondly, I could just imagine where this sales pitch was going. When he opened the door to the building and I was floored. There right in front of my eyes was basically a brand new, Tweetie Pie yellow 1953 35 foot Vagabond trailer. I’m sure if we took it outside you could see it from a satellite. Trying to control myself so as not to show my excitement, - and look cool and reserved----(as if I am capable of that)--- I asked him “what’s it like inside? He stepped up nose to nose with me and said “I TOLD YOU, IT’S NEW!)
Steves ever changing collection of vintage trailers, cars and memorabilia was featured in the Vintage Camper Trailers Book.
When I walked inside I almost fainted. This thing had everything but the smell from the factory applied final finishes. I had to ask “how much” and for the second time I was floored. I blurted out, “FOR AN OLD TRAILER”? Well, sometimes you’ve got to step up to the plate and thankfully I did. We shook hands on the deal and I took out my checkbook to give him a deposit. This folks is where I got my first inkling about just exactly how great the trailer hobby was going to be. You see—he said “why would I take a check from you for a deposit, we shook hands” wow.
I got home and mailed him a check anyways. He mailed it right back. “ Pay me when you pick it up.” And the rest they say, is history. From the very first Craig Dorsey Vintage Vacations rally at Newport Beach to my lastTrailerfest Rally with Caroline and Paul, it’s been one incredible journey. More friends than I ever imagined without ever having to turn on a computer or cell phone. Over the years the hobby grew into an obsession that slowly evolved into a museum. And through my conversations with each and every one of you I’ve gained a wealth of information. It’s truly been an honor to share it all with you and I appreciate you sharing your lives with me.
Both of these trailers were pictured in the Vintage Camper Trailers Book along with others in Steve's collection at the now disbanded museum.
The time has come for Jenay and I to move on. We have sold everything in the museum, wall to wall, floor to ceiling. We have sold our home and moved away from our beloved redwood trees and the occasional earthquakes and scary fires--- to our new, beloved “old peoples 55 and over” gated community. We will now have unlimited golf courses and hurricanes. I should have done this sooner. Being in my 70’s may make me the youngest neighbor on the block. (hee hee hee).
I will be searching for one last vintage camper for the two of us to enjoy for the next 50 or so years we have left. I just hope my truck lasts until I’m 120 years old. I may not be able to afford a self-driving autonomous ¾ ton solar powered electric four wheel drive vehicle when I really need it.
Steve's museum and the Masonite vagabond with the original interior (above) were featured in the Vintage Camper Trailers Book and The VCT Magazine issue #30 of the VCT Magazine.
Happy trails my friends---- I love you all--- and don’t ever forget, one trailer is never enough. Nothing compares to the thrill of the hunt. On top of that, decorating is the real icing on the cake. BYE BYE, NOT!
Steven and Jenay Katkowsky
p.s. You can still visit the website to experience just exactly how much fun it can be letting a hobby get the best of you. The stories are all there.
So you see, I’m not gone at all. What the heck, I may as well tell you now---it only took me a few months to pick up another two trailers. If you’d like a peek, let me know. And I’ve managed to terrorize a whole new group of people at 3 vintage trailer rallies out here in Florida.
P.S. And a special thank you to my friends Paul and Caroline (akaVintage Camper Trailers Magazine) for taking this hobby to new heights. Not that many years have gone by since I first met you both. You shared your dreams and in a relatively short period of time they’ve all been achieved. I think I can say this for all of your trailer family---------we love you.
The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine Blog