Posted by: Jim E | August 14, 2011

1972 Starcraft…Camping…Camping…Camping…And Jeremy…

1972 was a watershed year for our family…lots happened that year…lots to face, lots to accomplish…and lots of growth…both individually and as a family…January of that year, Jeremy, who was two and a half, was diagnosed with brain cancer…a tumor the size of a tangerine was discovered and removed from the back of his head…there was the surgery…chemotherapy…radiation and lots of attention to his needs…lots of attention to our other three other boys the oldest being about 7…and little time to spend on our family as a whole…(someday I will spend a little more time on why this experience was a watershed in our family, though I think you may already understand why…but that will come at a later date)…today, I will talk about our 1972 Starcraft tent trailer…

You may say to yourself, “Oh this ought to be great.”…now, wait…though a tent trailer may not be the most exciting thing in the world…it was to us…though in the beginning, we didn’t know how exciting…or how great it was going to be for our family…during the year of 1972, it was a hubbub of activity trying to keep Jeremy alive and then tending to his needs…and trying to keep our young family on track…Judie and I were just 30…with 4 young kids…we just bought our first house (frankly the only house we owned until we moved to Little Rock 4 years ago)…and we were just trying to hold things together…working, doctors appointments, kids in school, etc…as I look back, we were the lucky ones…we did hold it together, many don’t…but we needed a break…of some kind…we didn’t really know what that would be…(do you see a camper in our future???…we didn’t at the time)…

 That year went by…Jess, our number 3 son, was not in school yet in 1972…so he spent some of the first weeks of Jeremy’s treatment in Michigan with Judie’s Mom…but now a year later, he along with Jay and Jared were in school…we had less stress though still lots of “Jeremy stuff”…and we slowed down, if young parents of four young, active and involved kids can slow down…well, we slowed down enough to think about “our family” and what that may mean…we had no money…hospital and doctor bills…and though our insurance covered most of the cost…it didn’t take care of it all…so what could we do?…a trip to Disneyland was not on the docket (aah, Disney World didn’t exist)…frankly in those days I could say, “Not in your dreams!”…then at the end of 1972 we got our tax refund…and one of our neighbors had a 1972 Starcraft tent trailer…they had only had it for the year…and it wasn’t what they thought it would be…and wanted to step up to a travel trailer…they didn’t like the tent thingy experience…soooo…yup, the tax refund, though we could have used it for other things, was the right amount to pay for the 1972 Starcraft tent trailer…Viola…

What followed was years of camping…we never could afford a vacation while the kids grew up…but this allowed us to go about as cheaply (I could have used the word “reasonably” but since the former word defines me, I used it!!!)…as living at home…we had to pay for food anyway…and so it was only camping fees, which were, (okay) reasonable…so we camped and camped…during the summers we took vacations just five miles away…just up County Road 9 to Ramblin’ Rum Campgrounds…on the Rum River…it is not there anymore, but for those number of years we camped there…I got up and went to work, Judie and the kids spent weeks during the summer camping (I mean, I was there too, got up in the morning, went to work and came back to the campgrounds and “camped”…up the next morning and same routine)…campfires, the swimming pool, campfires, s’more’s…hotdogs over the fire…hiking, hayrides, campfires, s’more’s…hotdogs over the fire…the kids found so many things to do, they had so much fun…met people from all over…Judie even found a diamond necklace there, buried in the dirt…never found the owner…but still has that diamond (heaven’s it was bigger than the diamond I gave her for our wedding…okay,  I know, you do remember the “cheap” comment)…

We took that camper all over the twin city area…within driving distance from our house…ventured out 10 or so miles from home…to KOA’s on the Mississippi River…still today Jeremy reminds me of the huge trunk of a tree that we put on the fire and saw a whole colony of ants running off it…the times we went to Fishtrap Lake campgrounds near Motley, MN…fishing and campfires…and the kids being able to run around the grounds…there are just so many good people who camp…it was a wonderful time…but it didn’t end there, as time went on we took the camper to the east coast…to various other places…all places we couldn’t have gone without having the camper…heavens, we took it to Hope, MN…just south of Owatonna, MN…right along I-35…it is just off the freeway…we found it one year…I think it was July 4th weekend…we didn’t intend to go camping…but for some reason, late in the game, we decided to go…and we just couldn’t find a camping opening…at a State Park or anywhere…so I checked an obscure state camping booklet and found Hope Campgrounds…I called and they had plenty of openings…about 120 miles away…perfect…and there was a fishing icon next to the name in the booklet…Jeremy was in his glory…so off we went fishing poles and all…it was great…we fished in a gravel pit right next to the campground…here’s a picture from one of the times we went there (’cause we went there many times after the first time, hey it was “cheap”)…and we caught fish…here is Jared and Jess cleaning their fish…getting ready for a fishfry…with raw-fried potatoes, corn on the cob, fresh sliced tomatoes and the fixin’s…and there in the background is the camper that helped keep our family together in those years…what memories and what times!!!…

And every night, yes, every night, we had a campfire…for all the things campfires are for…to enjoy, for s’more’s, for poking around to make it a perfect fire…to watch it burn down into embers…talking, laughing and enjoying each other…and when all else goes…it’s roasting hotdogs over the fire, for a night time snack…heavens, you have to have a snack before a dessert of s’more’s or a campfire pie, we called them “Tonka Pies” (the “iron” was made by Tonka at the time)…remember those???…you’ve got to have the “iron” and then two pieces of bread…some apple pie filling, or cherry pie filling or just jam…and over the fire…and Viola…a pie…what a dessert…and what memories…

We sold the camper after about 15 years of using it…and it was hard letting it go…we loved our camping times…and still talk about them…what would our family been without it???…I really don’t know…but I do know this, those years and times of camping have helped to make all of us what we are…and kept us together through years that were sometime difficult…and trying…we lived it…and loved it…and the God who kept our feet on the ground during those times also brought us hope and enjoyment during those times…

I can still remember at Ramblin’ Rum Campgrounds on a Sunday morning…some of us were up early but many were still asleep…and across the campground came the sound of  bagpipes…playing “Amazing Grace”…”Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”…

Those sweet sounds of the bagpipes…and people around the campgrounds coming out of their tents and trailers…to sing and listen on those crisp, clear, quiet Minnesota Sunday mornings…it still sends goosebumps as I remember it today…and am thankful for so many little things that God brought to us during those days…thanks for coming along… 

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Responses

  1. When I was growing up, the parents of a friend of mine had a Starcraft camper- I remember camping out in it in my friend’s backyard. That was lots of fun, until it got cold at night anyway 🙂

    • W.S., Great jog to my flagging memory cells…we “stored” our camper in our backyard for years…and during the summer we put it nearer the house…and the “tent” was “up” most of the summer…the kids used it for another play area…especially during raining days for games, reading, etc…but I used it for a “quiet place” for study and getting ready for my Sunday School class every week…(and of course a place for a nap)…Judie use it too…our house was small, about 980 sq. feet, and with 4 boys and us and one bathroom…that other space was a special treat…heavens, you gave me an idea for a post…thanks…(“see you at ‘your place'”)…

  2. Wow we usto have a 1967 Starcraft and used it intell we got are 1973, or 74 galaxey 8 stare craft most of my Childhood Summers were spent in a starcraft pop up whanks for sharing!

    • And those days will always be remembered…thanks…Jim E


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