Owning a Serro Scotty camper, for some folks, is like being a kid again. The lightweight tagalongs left lasting impressions on many childhoods, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
“My parents had one of them. … It sparks memories,” says David Turner, 60, of Morgantown, W.Va., a former furniture repairman and craft-show vendor who’s bought, sold and rebuilt about 10 Serro Scotty campers. “You could tow a 13-foot one with a four-cylinder car.”
The late John Serro — who died in 1998 — developed the 10- to 13-foot long plywood and aluminum campers in the 1950s, and, ultimately, made thousands of them at a factory overlooking the Pennsylvania Turnpike in North Huntingdon. The earliest and smallest campers originally cost about $800.
Today, thousands of Serro Scotty camper owners connect online when they aren’t driving to weekend gab fests with food, libations and peeks at the campy insides of each others’ re-done, rolling gems. Interiors feature everything from license plate-print curtains to endless Scotty dog knickknacks.
“They’re very affordable, and they’re easy to refurbish,” says aerial photographer and Serro Scotty camper enthusiast Dale “Ace” Goldberg, 46, of Bethel Park. “The ease of use is the appeal.”
People can view dozens of the traditionally turquoise-blue and white vehicles during an open house set for 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (April 30) during a four-day homecoming of the Mid-East Chapter of Serro Scotty Camper Enthusiasts. The campout is set for Thursday through Sunday at Scottyland Camping Resort in Middlecreek, Somerset County. The national group claims about 1,400 members.
“We have a variety of people. It’s just like a family,” says Rose Wurm, 59, of Bedford Township, Bedford County, a former U.S. Marine who acquired her first Serro Scotty camper as a dilapidated wreck parked in an elderly woman’s yard.
“It looked really ugly,” says Wurm, who repaired the vehicle for overnight trips to festivals.”My sister and I were looking for a small camper to pull behind our popcorn van. We were looking for a place to sleep, basically.”
Wurm named her 1966 13-foot Tonga camper “Freebie,” because she bought it for the cost of a title transfer fee. “They’re treehouses on wheels,” she says about Serro Scotty campers.
Others planning to attend the homecoming include Gerry Freitag, 47, of Syracuse, N.Y., a Bates casket delivery man. As a boy, Freitag played inside a neighbor’s parked Serro Scotty camper, and routinely spent his weekly allowance on camping magazines with Serro Scotty camper advertisements.
“My parents never went camping,” he says, but Freitag often wrote to the Serro Scotty company and received many pens, banners and other promotional keepsakes in the mail. Freitag plans to display many of the collectibles at the upcoming campout.
Freitag — now historian for the Mid-East Chapter of Serro Scotty Camper Enthusiasts — also expects to bring his 1957 10-foot Sportsman Jr. Serro Scotty camper, originally built in the late John Serro’s barn.
Homecoming organizers hope to see and speak with many former Serro Travel Trailer Co. employees at the upcoming open house. Sights at the homecoming will include the first Scotty camper built by John Serro.
One can still buy a new 13- or 15-foot Serro Scotty camper for $10,000 to $13,500 through the Kerola Camper Store in Pymatuning, Mercer County. Store owner Bill Kerola purchased the right to produce and sell the vehicles through Joseph Pirschl of Greensburg, son-in-law of the late John Serro. A factory in Elkhart, Ind., manufactures the new campers.
Serro and Pirschl co-founded the Serro Travel Trailer Co., but they stopped making recreational vehicles after a 1997 fire destroyed their North Huntingdon factory.
Pirschl’s daughter and Serro’s granddaughter — Anne Degre, 48 — now owns her clan’s re-incarnated Mobile Concepts by Scotty firm in Mt. Pleasant. Mobile Concepts manufactures and outfits trailers and vehicles for the U.S. government and private enterprises.
A black Scottish terrier still marks Mobile Concepts vehicles, but a family friend named “Scotty” actually inspired the familiar mascot and company name. “The name worked,” Degre says. “The original Scotty camper was rare and small, like the Scotty (dog).”
Degre hopes to visit the Serro Scotty camper enthusiasts’ homecoming at brother Gary Pirschl’s Scottyland Camping Resort. Look for the Mid-East Chapter of Serro Scotty Camper Enthusiasts at sites 61-74 of the transient camping area.
Details: (814) 839-4084 or www.serroscottycamperenthusiasts.com.