Rustic revival: First show featured vintage, renovated campers

Entering some of the campers was like stepping back in time, while a few “glampers” chose to modernize their prized possession.

People checking out the vintage campers were treated to good variety during the inaugural Happy Glamper Show in the Walnut Street Parking Lot in downtown Seymour.

Organized by Seymour Main Street, Friday’s event also gave attendees a chance to purchase items from food trucks and cool off with a few scoops of ice cream from a local vendor.

The fun continued Saturday and also included live music and the Sip and Stroll Wine and Beer Walk, where area businesses had samples available at downtown stores.

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The 10 campers on display included one owned by Rita and Wayne Wischmeier of Seymour.

The 1973 Lark was purchased by Rita’s parents many years ago. They had it at least 20 years until selling it.

Rita decided to maintain the vintage look of the camper, complete with old appliances and furniture.

“A lot of them go in and redo them on the inside, paint them up and make them their own, but I just kind of left this one like it was because it was my parents’,” she said. “I didn’t do anything but paint the ceilings and clean it up.”

Her parents took the camper to Jackson-Washington State Forest near Brownstown and other places to camp for the weekend, and that’s what Rita plans to do, too.

“We’ve got to redo the water lines and fix it up a little bit better because the water lines have frozen,” she said. “We’re going to leave the inside like it is, but it needs a paint job (outside) sometime this summer.”

Last year, the Wischmeiers went to shows at parks in Mitchell and Corydon to look at vintage campers. The Happy Glamper Show was their first time displaying their camper.

Rita said people asked a lot of questions.

“A lot of them want to know where they can find one, and they are getting hard to find because everybody is looking for them,” she said.

She liked hearing people’s stories, too.

“There was a lady here, she lives in Seymour now, but she was originally from Washington, Indiana, and she travels back and forth with a camper to Florida,” Rita said. “You just get to visit with people, and you meet people from different places.”

Nearby, Tom and Jan Gray of Seymour had their campers on display.

Jan bought her 1960 Shasta a couple of years ago. That later encouraged Tom to go after a 1959 Yellowstone.

“(Jan) used it a bunch, and then I started camping with her, and then I got the fever and had to have my own,” Tom said, smiling.

When Jan purchased her camper, she changed its name from Trixie to Jenny Rose in honor of her two grandparents — her dad’s mom was Jenny, and her mom’s mother was Rose.

Jan’s camper has turquoise paneling on the lower part of the exterior and on some of the decor inside.

“The inside is totally different, but structurally, it had all been fixed, so we didn’t have to do any major stuff,” Jan said.

She did all of the decorating inside.

“(Tom) is supposed to paint it (outside), but he has been too busy working on his camper to work on mine,” Jan said.

Tom bought his camper in the fall. A woman had it sitting in a field near Tampico, and several people had offered to buy it, but she was really attached to it, Tom said.

After several attempts, he finally got the woman to agree to sell it.

“I finally had to tell her I would take her camping at the forestry in Brownstown this summer, so I’m going to go pick her up, and we’re going to go to the forestry and spend the day,” he said.

Tom said the woman has pictures of the camper when it made it through a hurricane in Florida in the 1960s.

“She’s got all of the stories that are going to be really interesting to hear and the pictures, so it will be worth it because she said she used to love to go to Brownstown to the forestry with her camper and kids,” he said.

Tom has buffed the outside of the 4,000-pound aluminum camper and restained the wood inside. He wants to do more buffing, paint the door frames and add original wheel covers, but he has chosen to keep the vintage look inside.

“For it to sit in a field for 40-some years, it’s remarkable how solid it was, and I didn’t have to replace anything,” he said. “Some people want to gut them and make them all new inside, and that’s OK, but that’s just not what I want. I want to leave it old looking. I don’t want to modernize it. I want to leave it totally original. ”

Seeing an old refrigerator and other appliances, wooden cabinets and decor inside the camper, people shared various stories with Tom.

“People will say, ‘I had a camper like that,’ and they want to stand and tell you their stories,” he said. “It’s just fun hearing everybody else’s stories so when they see my stuff, they can relive their life.”

Having owned T&T Body Shop between Seymour and Brownstown for 45 years, Tom always has been interested in old cars. While looking for a vehicle to tow his camper, he came across a 1985 van on eBay.

It originally was built for the city of Los Angeles for a communications disaster relief vehicle and later was sold to Universal Studios and built to be used in the movie “Jurassic Park.”

When Tom bought the van, it still had about $100,000 worth of electronic equipment in the back and only had 11,000 miles on it. The van has logos from the movie and a city of Los Angeles plaque on the outside.

The Happy Glamper Show was the first time he used the van to tow the camper.

“I wanted a van to be able to pull all of my camping stuff and just leave it in there, and then I can just hook it to my camper and go,” he said.

The Grays went to vintage camper shows in Elkhart, Brown County, Mitchell and Logansport last summer and hope to attend more this summer.

“They are starting to get really popular,” Tom said. “It has really grown in the last two years. It’s just crazy how many people are there.”

Bethann Knox of Bloomington is among the people who decided to become a “glamper” and fix up the inside of her camper.

When she purchased the 1956 Trailmaster four years ago, she said it had blue and brown “manly” decor.

At one point, she started to redo it, but she owned a business and got busy with that.

She finally got the chance to redo it with a lavender decor, so she came up with the design and had a man do the restoration work. She named it Annabelle.

“I had a son die and my dad died. I was like, ‘I just need that comfort home feeling, that love,'” she said. “I got it, and it was kind of like I needed that little cozy, intimate place. This is like my parents had when I was a little girl, but it wasn’t near as fancy.”

Now, she enjoys camping with her family and taking the camper to shows to let people take a glimpse inside.

“The thing about vintage campers is it really keeps that child comfort in you. It just makes me very happy to sit and think about my childhood in here,” she said. “My health got bad, so it’s a nice thing to just kind of sit back and watch people be happy. It really helps my health. Altogether, it’s a holistic thing for me.”

Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street, said the first Happy Glamper Show was limited to 10 campers, but they hope to double that amount and add more activities next year.

Those participating in the inaugural show were glad to hear that.

“This is great. I hope they keep it up,” Jan Gray said.

“I’ve been impressed with how big the crowd has been,” Tom Gray said during Friday night’s show. “I like anything like this that’s different that draws people to downtown Seymour.”

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For information about Seymour Main Street, call 812-271-1340, visit or search for “Seymour Main Street, Indiana” on Facebook.