Shirley Palmer – A New Motorhome

shirley-palmer.jpgIn 1986 the decision was made to upgrade from our truck and camper we’d been using since 1971 to a Motorhome. My Mother who had lived with us for eight years had passed away and our “nest” had been empty for several years, so now was the time for us to start enjoying our free time with a nice new Motorhome with all the conveniences – shower – large refrigerator & freezer, microwave, etc. plus the freedom of being able to walk around. We were done taking that camper off every time we returned home, as that was my vehicle to drive to work. We went down to the big Motorhome show in Long Beach and talked with a Komfort M/H representative and picked out exactly what we wanted – style, colors inside and out etc. We were told it would be made according to our specifications and delivered to the dealer we were dealing with in Orange County. We drove home on cloud 9 – just think – The Palmers – were going to be the proud owners of a 27 foot Komfort Motorhome. And best of all my days of having to crawl through that little window into the camper would be over!!!

Around July 1st we got the call to come & pick it up, but we had to stay for a one hour demonstration of how to work everything. I was working in Newhall at the time, which meant at least an hours drive down into Orange County. I told my girls I’d be gone about 3 hours (figuring 1 hour drive each way and 1 hour demonstration). My husband was in North Hollywood, so I had to stop and pick him up, so we’d only have 1 vehicle and he could drive the Motorhome back to our home.

Traffic was terrible, it took us at least an hour and a half to get there. When we arrived the demonstrator had left for lunch, so we had to wait on him. It was an extremely hot day, I was looking for anywhere to sit down that had an air-conditioner. Finally our demonstration began and he was going from one end of the coach to the other showing us this switch and that and how to work this and that – I was totally confused and getting hotter by the minute. I was fanning myself and finally I told them I was going to have to step outside and get some air – I couldn’t breathe I was so hot. Sweat was dripping off my bangs. It was then our demonstrator discovered that while showing how to turn the furnace on, it had remained on and we were not only getting the air-conditioning, but it was being offset by the heat coming out of the furnace. The demonstration lasted over 2 hours. I kept calling my office & checking in – finally I told them, “I don’t think I’m going to make it back, you guys lock the vaults and the office and go home!”

We started out up I-5 from Orange County and around L.A./USC’s County Hospital we came to a complete halt. It was literally stop and go for miles! Ofcourse it was a Friday, and what more did we expect – we had expected to be home by the time we finally left Orange County. Arriving home we parked the Motorhome in the street, came into the house to have something cool to drink and calm our very ragged nerves.

Finally – the big moment to bring the Big Rig into our back yard. The dealer had placed a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator for us to celebrate. Celebrations would come later when we were all parked in the back yard. At first my husband tried to back it in, but that didn’t work – he couldn’t see well enough, so he decided to drive it in, and then backing it out would be easier. We had a narrow route to negotiate, but he had measured and was certain there would be no problem. I was the director – pointing left, right, whatever – watching sides, top etc etc – and by this time it was dark. He was driving in when I yelled “Stop!” He rolled down his window and said “what’s the matter”?? I explained that the awning which was on the passenger’s side was stuck on the back porch roof.

My husband reminded me how much that awning had cost – $200. (which I was well aware of) and then he asked what my suggestion might be. If he backed up – or came forward the awning would tear. So I said to him, “I guess your only choice will be to get out and saw off that first portion of the back porch roof”!! Now tempers began to flare – he jumped out of the driver’s seat – came around & surveyed the situation and amongst many comments headed to the garage & got his saw, climbed up on the roof of the Motorhome and sawed off the first board of the roof, which was about 6” wide. He got back into the coach and slowly started up again & once again I yelled “STOP!!!!” Now what???? Well, my suggestion infuriated him – he needed to saw off one more board in order to get through. After at least 2 hours and with a much smaller back porch roof, the Motorhome was in our back yard. Needless to say we were in no mood for celebrating or champagne!!

Our next big exciting time was trying to get the Motorhome back out of the back yard. We found in the daylight that we had 2 inches to spare – give or take an inch on either side. We had a signal between us. It seems every time he backed it out, the driver’s side mirror would catch our neighbors bathroom screen and pull it out. So I would watch him going out – it was a struggle and when he caught the screen, I’d clap my hands and he’s stop, roll down his driver’s window – push the screen back into place and we’d be out!! The closeness to the neighbors was to negotiate around our smaller back porch roof! We did that maneuver for 7 years – before relocating to Los Osos. We got to be quite proficient at it, after years of practice.

We joined the Motorhome Club sponsored by the Dealer who had sold us all the Komforts – we were called the Komfort Kruisers. On our first outing with them we all sat around the campfire telling of our first night bringing our Motorhomes home. Nobody drank the champagne – except one woman from Sunland – they got stuck over a big ditch in the front of their home and were hung up – had to be towed off the next day. She took the champagne in and drank the whole bottle herself, while her husband slept outside in the Motorhome. It was fun listening and learning that we weren’t the only ones who had encountered an unforeseen problem. Everyone had some kind of problem, maybe not as dramatic as ours, but there were many! Sharing our first night experiences broughtus close together & we had a club that we enjoyed for 20 years. .

The only complaint I had was that on a rainy day – while either leaving for work or returning from work, getting in or out of our back door – all the rain went right down the back of my neck into my coat – that little short roof just didn’t make the grade in the rain.

And thus began our life with a Motorhome. In later years we decided we might want to trade in for a longer coach. We went over to Galpin Ford on Sepulveda and Roscoe Blvd. as they were selling coaches at that time. We were just looking, but got entangled with one of the famous “hot-shot” salesmen. He wanted us to sign on the dotted line right then. My husband said, “I tell you what – if you can get this coach in my back yard, you’ve got a deal” – boy the guy was elated!! I drove our car home and just watched.

First he tried to back it in – hit the neighbors bars around their gas meter and dented the rear end. Then he tried to drive it in – hit our back porch and put a big dent in the front end – finally he gave up and had to take the damaged coach back and explain to his boss. His comment – “Your driveway is impossible – too many hazards!” My husband just smiled – wish he could have seen it before we made the roof reduction!!

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8 Comments on “Shirley Palmer – A New Motorhome”

  1. VIV RAY Says:

    Your motorhome adventure made me laugh (easy for me to laugh) Such excitement, too bad no one had a video taping you getting the motorhome where you wanted it. You could have sold it and made a fortune. Too late. Keep writing. Viv

  2. Deborah W Says:

    Love Shirley’s stories!! I agree with Viv…keep writing! Deborah

  3. Jeff N. Says:

    Shirley, a terrific story. Thanks for sharing it. We cut out roof back four times before we had totally eliminated the overhang. Now our 40′ slips in beautifully.

  4. Art Bjornestad Says:

    This story certainly well told and even better as I know the couple involved. They are both gems and as you can see, very entertaining as well. Thanks Shirley

  5. Teri Lorence Says:

    Great story Mom!! I can remember coming home to visit and watching Mom & Dad prepare for an outing and fighting over who had to stand on the back porch and watch that 2 inch margin as the motorhome sailed by! Luv Ya

  6. Connie Wiens Says:

    Great story Shirl, you always have a way with words. It’s your special gifft……keep it up! Hope you got an A on this one.

  7. Bill and Bonnie Says:

    That was one of the funniest stories we have ever read. I laughed will tears running down my face and then read it to Bill and he laughed just as hard. After all of that we truly appreciate your 50th wedding anniversary…. you sure had the trials….. love to you both…. and keep up the writing…. they are as good in writing as when told in person…Bill and Bonnie

  8. Marlene Caetano Says:

    Mom, I loved the story about Gary but this one had me laughing so hard just itrying to imagine Dad’s face when he had to saw the roof off! Truly amazing ! I love the part of the salesman trying to make the new motorhome fit and ended up damaging the coach! Like I said before, you missed your calling, you should have been a writer. Thanks for sharing!!! Love ya.


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