Book Review: Ridge Writers on Books

"Trailerama" (review by) Donna McCrohan Rosenthal

Book Review: Ridge Writers on BooksThis extremely satisfying coffee table book combines hundreds of vintage color photos with enough text to remove any doubt that the 100-year-old trailer industry qualifies as pop culture gold and each vehicle as a time capsule on wheels. “Trailerama” (by Phil Noyes, 192 pages, hardcover, Gibbs Smith, 2012, $30.00) presents trailer badges, snapshots, movie ads, magazine covers, cartoons, brochures, poems, postcards, sheet music, games, toys and more.

Author/producer/diehard fan Phil Noyes primarily spans the era from Hollywood stars discovering trailers in the early 1930s, through post-WWII when returning GIs and their families hit the road on vacations. In those days, trailers came in the shapes of teardrops, bread loaves and canned ham, but not just any canned ham. The Shasta had wings on the back.

Airstream. New Moon. Silver Arrow. Kozy Coach. Liberty Caravan. These rolling metal marvels of ingenuity meant elegance, furniture that included sofas and pianos, women lounging in satin dresses and gorgeous wraps while sipping fashionable cocktails, and the convenience of “having everything at your fingertips.” Some celebrity trailers had servants’ quarters and, out in the rest of the world, Ollie Trout’s Trailer Park in Florida had white-jacketed servants delivering cold drinks and warm food to patrons’ dining nooks. Ultimately, people used trailers for adventures ranging from touring, sporting, camping, fishing and retirement to providing healthcare and worship services. Traveling salesmen found them ideal for mobile showrooms.

According to one promotional piece, exploring our nation from a trailer not only gave owners the joy of “stepping out your front door and viewing the grandeur of America” but, in fact, nothing short of the whole American Dream in a sleek, shiny shell: “The Trailer Coach offers more in the American way of life than any other product.”

Noyes concludes his enjoyable tribute with the upbeat sentiment, “Home is where you haul it,” but reader be warned. Some pages call up memories so nostalgic they almost hurt.

“Trailerama” has a special section on California and glowing praise for the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz movie “The Long, Long Trailer” (much of it shot in our area) as “the holy grail of trailer films” and “Desi and Lucy at their best.” The gift shop of the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert in the Historic USO building sells both book and DVD, and if you buy the two at once, you save five dollars.

This weekly column is written by members of the Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Wednesday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions from a World Apart” is available at Carriage Inn, Jawbone Station, the Historic USO Building, Maturango Museum, Red Rock Books and online from the official website www.planetmojave.com.

Story First Published: 2013-10-16