By Jim Sullivan
---- — 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.
“They come from all walks of life,” Rowell said of her fellow Scotty enthusiasts. “We have an attorney, a nurse, auto mechanics, truck drivers, people that are retired, white- and blue-collar.”
Rowell said that she and her husband spent roughly 100 hours renovating the camper that had sat dormant for more than 21 years. But it was a good time that brought her, David and their then-8-year-old daughter, Katherine, closer together. Once the camper was up and running, the Rowells’ first trip was to a campout in Rochester, N.H.
“There were about 25 people there,” Rowell said. “When we pulled into the campground, people just came out with a trailer and took the camper off the car and dragged it away, they were so excited to see a camper they hadn’t seen.”
The camper, of course, came back, and the Rowells have been going strong ever since, making countless friends along the way. They have added a 1962 and ’63 Scotty to their collection, as well.
“We’ve met people who are willing to help out,” Rowell said. “If we’re stuck with the camper or we need parts or advice, we all share back and forth. They are also people we can socialize without the campers in the wintertime. It’s a weekendlong party all the time.”
This year’s party will begin with an icebreaker social tomorrow night. A brunch will start the day on Saturday, followed by a public open house and a potluck dinner with Yankee swap. The evening will end with a campfire. Sunday has a continental breakfast, followed by the breakdown, and then everyone will be on their way.
Hecht, who will be motoring up from Garrison, N.H., published the book “Serro Scotty Travel Trailers” in June.
“No one had written one before on Scottys,” Hecht said. “So after meeting this really interesting group of people who were so welcoming and so kind and loved these little trailers, I was just immediately intrigued by the trailers and the people behind them.”
The author said he would like his next book to be a companion piece about the people who own the campers.
“Vintage trailers seem to be popping up everywhere,” Hecht said. “So a lot of people are interested in them.”
If you go
What: Hoot and Howl open house
When: Saturday, 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: Salisbury Beach State Reservation campground. Most of the vintage campers will be in rows A, B and C.