Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Todd Bianco of West Hollywood, Calif., and appears in the current edition of WeHo News. It is about the “Modernism Week” display in Palm Springs, Calif.
While Palm Springs boasts some of the most stellar examples of Mid-Century Modern architecture, the wide open desert also was a mecca for travel trailers.
One of the icons of the mid-20th Century is the aluminum travel trailer, the most famous of which is the Airstream. Airstream Life Magazine sponsored this year’s travel trailer show.
You needed sun glasses just to look around the parking lot of the Riviera Resort & Spa where shiny aluminum jellybean-shaped trailers reigned supreme.
It was a a different time in post WWII America. We had won the war, but we were now in the Atomic Age and the Cold War cast a chilling shadow over the free world.
Highways like Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway had connected many states and cities, but that was only a hint of things to come.
As part of a big national security push, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and the construction of the Interstate Highway System began. The building is still going on, but it took at least 35 years and billions of dollars to complete the original plan.
In the days before credit cards and the internet, families bought trailers, hooked them to a pickup truck or station wagon and went on family vacations to all points throughout the country.
It was a way of life that cemented our love of the automobile, the travel trailer and the freedom to go anywhere with the excellent and ever-expanding interstate highways. Countless roadside motels, diners and attractions popped up to service this growing segment of the American population.
As I toured these dinosaurs of decades past, I couldn’t help but long to get a trailer, break the shackles of domestic home ownership and just travel around the USA with my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom trailing my gigantic SUV with a powerful gas-guzzling V8 engine.
However, when you look at the cramped quarters and less-than-attractive bathroom options, reality smacked some sense back into my head.
Still, you could park one of these beauties in your back yard and use it as a guest house. At first, your friends will think it’s fun, but after a few days, they may decide it’s time to go home or move to a hotel.
We are spoiled these days, and these relics remind me of just how much we rely on modern appliances, fixtures and amenities.