Eva's Retro 60s Flashbacks
A Kumbaya Tent Revival
Memorial Day weekend precludes a taste of summer through firing up the backyard barbecue or
building a campfire. Happy motoring along the highways and byways of the Sixties as we embark on an imaginary,
nostalgic camping trip to New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest campground-- Dolly Copp, the way it
was—before the existence of wet wipes, sealable plastic sandwich bags, protein bars and shakes, bottled water,
and the sophisticated pastime of RV-ing with 50-amp hookups and floor
Gather ye round the campfire to keep the raccoons at bay with a round or
two of "Kumbaya," an African-American spiritual which gained popularity during the folk revival of the 1960s
due to Joan Baez’s 1962 recording. Associated with the Civil Rights movement, the song also became a campfire
standard that snapped, crackled, and popped while marshmallows toasted. Someone`s singing, Lord,
Kumbaya…A kumbaya tent revival
pitched its peak during the Sixties when trailer travel was tire tread hot.
Post World War II prosperity enabled millions of Americans to buy cars and
head for them thar hills towing a trailer behind them. Pandering to this newfangled acquisition of
hitch alongs, alluring black-and-white ads appeared in magazines such as Field & Stream and National
Geographic. Almighty aluminum trailer shapes ranged
from the classic canned ham to lumpy lampoons like the Serro Hi-Lander. Hi-Lo and Rolie offered
went ballistic with Avion, Streamline, and Silver Streak. Their Bambi is still “a little honey of a trailer
ready to go at a moment’s notice whenever you feel the urge.” Another vintage trailer, the E-Z Kamper
T-Bird with its red and white striped awning, is still “holding up” today as it did in its Sixties heyday.
Let’s not forget the VW camper, the vehicle of choice for nomadic Hippies who perfected living off the land
in peace and harmony.
We’re ready to pitch our tent at Dolly Copp—nothing fancy, mind
you. Those old fashioned
green or brown square-ish tents made out of cotton canvas material without a waterproof tent floor could
breathe naturally. There
was enough space between the cloth threads to allow moisture in the air to escape outside. None of this modern nylon and other
synthetic stuff which is too watertight for water vapor to escape, necessitating built-in
ventilation. The ground
will suffice for our mattress as sleeping bags had no pads to cushion our sacroiliac. For goodness sake, this
isn’t the Waldorf. We’re here to enjoy the rugged outdoors and work up an appetite for freshly caught trout
sizzling in a cast iron skillet warmed by a fire. Kumbaya!
Even Dolly Copp couldn’t escape a citifying and sissifying makeover. In
1963 the installation of flush toilets in twelve modern lavatory buildings obliterated roughing-it in the
woods. Eventually the Big Meadow section was expanded to make more spaces with easy access for trailers.
Then, we could put away our flashlights when electric service came to Dolly Copp via underground power
So our newfangled tents now have insect netting on the doors. We can make
adjustments to allow warm air to escape in hot weather, and restrict air flow when it’s cold. It doesn’t mean
we have to embrace high tech camping stoves or arrive at our campground destination in an RV. We can still
have a kumbaya tent revival by rallying round the campfire to roast weenies and toast
marshmallows by the light of the silvery moon.
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