Sharing a love for things from our great American manufacturing past, we might be considered collectors by some. Although in many respects this is true, it actually began with a desire to fill our home with old beautiful and still functional items made from over 50 years ago. Our thinking was that if they could withstand the test of time, they made much more sense than anything else. We also felt we were able to justify this as a form of recycling. Rather than buying new, we bought quality used. When we needed a colander, we marched right down to a used kitchen tool shop to find an old aluminum one. When we wanted some new dishes, we looked to the past for our Franciscan Starburst everyday china. (You can drop it on the vinyl floor and it doesn't even chip!) When it came time to try to resolve the dust and mildew problems that were enveloping our library of art, jewelry and cook books, (gotta love ol' SF, sigh.) we looked to American steel barrister cases from the 1960's. The more things we decided to acquire as a couple, the more disenchanted we became with "Made in China," disposable furniture and cheap garage sale hand me downs.
And then, there was our fair Spartan...
It all began with a holiday spent in the middle of southeastern Arizona. The Shady Dell is a sweet little gem of a “hotel” located on the outskirts of a town called Bisbee. A classic "Americana" getaway where you can spend a night or two in a variety of fully restored vintage aluminum trailers, this place is not to be missed! The innkeeper couple pay close attention to every detail, bedecking and outfitting each trailer with all things retro! Everything, right down to the chenille bedspreads, melamine dishes, mid-century furniture and the music that you can play on your own record player, are all perfected for your time warp stay.
We both had a love and fascination for vintage trailers and thought it would be a good idea to become a little more intimate with one. So, after a few years of hearing and reading about this special place, Mr. Ken and I decided to spend a night celebrating all things American retro. With best friends at our side, red lipstick & the perfect sundress, (me) a classic fade-plaid Eisenhower jacket (him) in tow, along with a variety of our favorite tunes a la Martin Denny, Frank, Dino, Sammy and Peggy Lee, classic cocktail accoutrements and hors d'oeuvres, we were set for the night. Ours was to be the Airstream, our companions, the Spartanette and oh, what a time we had!
A little foggy from the night before, Ken awoke the next morning and noticed one uninhabited trailer that piqued his interest. At the end of the lot was a large and lovely Spartan! Clad with a wall of windows, birch interior and in the process of renovation, it was well on the way to becoming an artist studio. That's when it hit him -this was to be our holy grail!
For years he had talked about his fantasy of getting me set up with a trailer of some sort that could double as a jewelry studio and eventual guest house, but they all seemed too small or not modern enough for our prefab eyes. Our intent, once the market stabilized and we found an idyllic plot to our liking, was to start with a Spartan as a base, not so much with the option to tour but with an option of some portability. An aluminum-clad (semi) portable home seemed to make so much more sense than the classic pre-fab designs that we had considered and that were currently available on the market. So the search began!
A year and a half later, after so many fruitless Craigslist searches from every town you can think of, I decided to do yet another classified search. Spartans are a tough thing to find, in tact or otherwise and the one that we wanted was only in production for two years before the Oklahoma plant closed its doors for good. We had been married exactly four weeks, post our City Hall elopement, so I figured the odds might be in our newlywed favor. Well, lo and behold there she was, our fair Spartan! A Carousel, no less, right in our own backyard.
Isn't she lovely?
C'mon, use your imagination, she's a work in progress after all.