NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 17, 2013

An old-fashioned gathering

Vintage campers converge at Salisbury reservation

Dozens of canned hams are heading to the Salisbury Beach State Reservation this weekend, and it’s not to celebrate an early Easter.

As American as Mom and apple pie, an estimated 50 or more vintage campers (that can either look, depending on the eye, like teardrops or canned hams) and their owners will be descending on the reservation for the third annual Hoot and Howl, which runs from tomorrow evening through Sunday afternoon.

“I often have the misconception that this would be nothing but a group of retirees,” said Paul Hecht, an interior designer and author. “But it was not that at all. It’s just a really cool melting pot of a little bit of everything that you would see across the country.”

Hecht attended 2011’s inaugural Hoot, which attracted 32 campers and an estimated 55 attendees. Forty-nine campers made the trek last year, and event organizer Heidi Rowell hopes to see more this time around.

“People should just have fun,” Rowell said. “Meet new people. See old friends. Have a relaxing weekend.”

A mediator by trade, Rowell’s love affair with the campers, which cost less than $1,000 back in their 1960s-70s heyday, began when she and her husband, David, plunked down $300 for a 13-foot, 1968, turquoise and white Scotty at an estate sale in 2003. The Rowells bought a bicycle pump, pumped up the camper’s tires and were off.

“We were looking for a pop-up trailer,” Rowell said. “And instead, we bought this quirky, little, 13-foot, they call it a canned ham, it looks like a ham can on its side. We cleaned it out and renovated it, then we found a group of other people who owned the same type of campers, and it has just grown since then.”

That group is known as the Serro Scotty Camper Enthusiasts, a nationwide organization of more than 1,000 Serro loyalists that formed on the Internet.

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