Friday, May 12, 2006


Let's go back a few years to September of 1983. I was living in my Grandmother's house since the year before, but she had passed away and I was now on my own. My Grandmother's estate was liquidating her assets, and the chief asset was her house in Montclair. The one I called home.

There had already been garage sales and scrounging relatives, so I was left with very few belongings to furnish my home. I had a sleeping bag, a 13" black and white television set and my clothes. Pretty much all of my worldly material things fit into the trunk of my 1970 Pontiac Le Mans.

I woke up one morning, Saturday, September 17th 1983 to be exact, to the sound of someone unlocking my door. There was a gentleman with a key to my house in his hand, and a very quizzical look on his face.

"You're supposed to be gone by now."

"Can I at least take a shower?"

"Absolutely NOT! GET OUT!"

It's times like this you realize that having few belongings is sometimes a blessing. It was right about then that I realized that all of my worldly possessions fit into the trunk of my car. I drove down to the gas station that I worked at and completed my shift. Once my shift was over, I settled in for a good night's rest in the back seat of my Le Mans. Not the most comfortable car, even at my 5'8" stature, I was somewhat cramped. It was dry however, and the weather in September was mild, so all in all it could have been worse.

I managed to go undiscovered for about a week, living in my car and washing up in the ladies room of the gas station. (the men's room was by far the dirtiest of the two. Neither had hot water though) Once my boss realized that I was sleeping in my car, he offered his popup trailer for me to stay in. Well, the bed in it was larger than the back seat of my car, so I reluctantly agreed. The popup trailer was positioned between the gas station itself, and the immaculate conception cemetery. There was a brook that ran behind the gas station, whose babbling sound added to the ambiance, and attracted rats.

It started out, kind of fun. Hey, it was camping after all, and countless Americans spend their free time living in these things. But countless Americans also ride roller coasters in their free time, and I don't think I'd want to live in a roller coaster either.

Twenty-some odd years have a way of clouding one's memory, however, I do recall that September and October were quite pleasant. Come November, the weather started to get a little chilly. By the time December rolled around, temperatures were in the teens. The camper had no heat, but I managed to string an extension cord from the gas station so I could at least have some light. One night in particular, I remember the temperature dropping down to 10 degrees. I think I wore every piece of clothing I owned that night in an attempt to maintain my body's core temperature.

I know that I've glossed over a lot of the exciting details and adventures that took place over that six-month period, and that may or may not be a blessing for you Dear Reader. Perhaps I may come back at a later time to fill in such intricacies as the joys of building a shower out of automotive parts, waking to the sounds of the tire machine and rat-proofing a popup trailer.

By February, I'd pretty much grown sick of camping. I had managed to find a room for rent for $75.00/week so I bid farewell to the popup trailer, and moved to Cedar Grove, NJ.

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