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Things Haven't Changed Since The Long Long Trailer

As Published In WBCCI Blue Beret Magazine
Things Haven’t Changed Since The Long Long Trailer

When I decided to hit the road, a friend of mine bought me a copy of The Long, Long, Trailer as a joke (and possibly also because I look a bit like Lucille Ball). As I recently passed my anniversary of becoming full-time RVer, I went back to watch the film again — and noticed that things haven’t changed all that much.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

In case you are unacquainted with this fine classic, The Long, Long Trailer is a 1954 film starring Lucy (as “Tacy”) and Desi (as “Nicky”). The soon-to-be-wedded couple decides to buy a “New Moon” trailer with all the latest gadgets and luxuries, and set off on their honeymoon. I was amazed at how little the basic principles behind living on the road had changed in 55 years. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that every RVer should be required to watch this movie before committing to the lifestyle.

Finding The Right Tow Vehicle

One of the first dilemmas faced by our intrepid couple is how to pull the damned thing out of the showroom — and this is still a major concern for contemporary full-timers. After buying the RV, Nicky finds out that his current car isn’t nearly powerful enough, and he has to upgrade to a bigger and more expensive sedan.

The Hitch Bitch

Nicky discovers that you can’t just hook the trailer to the back of your vehicle and go — you need all kinds of specialized hitch equipment to keep it from swaying and swerving and breaking loose on a big hill, and of course it all costs extra. Ain’t nothin’ changed about this!

Trailer Brakes Are Still Key

Nicky learns early on that a hand-operated-not-included-in-the-price-of-the-RV trailer brake is required to keep his rig from plowing into the back of the car when it’s time to slow down — but the only way he can remember to hit both sets of brakes at the same time is to holler “car brakes, trailer brakes!” at every stop.

Downsizing Your Life

It is, of course, a riot watching Tacy attempt to fit everything they own into her much smaller RV storage spaces — and trying to find room for the golf clubs nearly finishes Nicky off. You just have to economize, swapping your full-sized stuff for those fun space-saving gizmos full-timers love so much (and never try to take a 1950s wardrobe, a full set of china, or a silver tea service with you like Tacy did).

Learning To Maneuver

Backing up is Nicky’s big challenge, as is the case for every new full-timer who hasn’t worked as a long-haul trucker. While I’ve never accidentally destroyed a friend’s garage, it did take me about 27 tries to back into my own driveway for the first time — and the part where Tacy is telling him to “turn left, now right” and it’s just not happening the way she wants is so true! – but over time, you get the hang of it

Occupancy While Moving

When I first saw the scene in which Tacy decides to fix dinner as they drive down the road, ready-to-serve when Nicky pulls into their spot for the night, I was aghast. I thought, “Was that legal in the 50s?” — because it sure isn’t now. (You can’t have a living creature in a travel trailer while it is being pulled, only in a motorhome where you can move back and forth between the cab and the other spaces without having to exit the vehicle.) Tacy, battered and bruised and coated in flour after being flung around the RV, finds out that it was illegal in the 1950s, too.

Size Does Matter

I forget the exact length of the “New Moon,” but I think it was 39 or 40 feet — huge even by modern RVing standards. While the idea of more space might seem attractive at first, you have to remember that the bigger the rig, the harder it is to tow, and the more challenging it will be to find a space you can fit in. Fortunately, I was warned about this up front — and settled on a very reasonably-sized 29 foot Excella. (A nice balance of “big-enough-to-live-in” and “small-enough-to maneuver.”

Life In An RV Park

Apparently RVers were just as gregarious and friendly in the 50s as they are now. Tacy and Nick are swarmed upon by well-meaning neighbors at the first park they pull into, and I’ve had the same experience — they come from all corners, like the living dead, determined to make you feel at home whether you like it or not.

Choose Your Souvenirs Carefully

Tacy decides that it would be fun to collect a rock from each stop along their travels — and I don’t mean a pebble. I’m talking about a boulder she can barely lift. She only discovers the flaw in her plan when they are headed up a steep grade in the Sierra Nevadas and are pulling a half ton of rock behind them along with the weight of the trailer. I, on the other hand, have opted for a much smaller, lighter, and more portable souvenir option — elongated pennies!

Know Thyself

The biggest lesson offered by this film is the idea that full-timing isn’t for everyone. If you don’t plan ahead properly, do your research first, know what you’re getting into, and maintain your sense of humor (and if you don’t have the kind of relationship that can withstand the more-than-occasional unexpected situation) this lifestyle can certainly erode away at your bank account, marriage, and mental health. At times, the situations in this movie are a bit too close to home, and the full-timer in the room can be seen cringing while everyone else who lives in a house just laughs.

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Copyright 2001 RamonaCreel.com

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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