The Little Cabin in the Rockies that Did Not Happen - a Life Lesson

Real Estate Agent with Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc.

I found the above photo while surfing the internet last week. It reminded me of a time in the 1950s when I was a wee lad living in a western suburb of Denver. I was probably ten or eleven when my parents and I went to a trailer exposition like the one shown above. We were not planning on moving into a trailer. Instead, my folks had purchased a building lot in a Clear Creek County in the foothills just west of Denver that lead up to to the Rocky Mountains.  After finding out how much it would cost to build that little dream cabin they envisioned, they decided buying a trailer might be an affordable option.

For the less knowing, the foothills are the smaller mountains which lead the much higher Rockies that rise thousands of feet.  The foothills are less imposing and most were easily accessible by ca even back then.  In the 1950s the foothills were basically uninhabited except for small towns such as Evergreen, Conifer, and Bailey. That all changed with the construction of Interstate 70 cut travel time through the mountains to a few hours. The new suburban communities like Genesee sprang up along the "Front Range". The photo above shows US 40 looking back toward Denver in the 1940s.


Sometime before going to the trailer exposition, my parents had purchased a building lot in a subdivision called Harris Park. The developer basically cut roads on surveyed lots upon which new owners were supposed to drill wells, add septic systems, build a house, and live the dream life. I don't how much they paid for the lot, but I do remember they had a mortgage on it. The l price had to be in the high hundreds or very low thousands of dollars. The US Department of Commerce reports the median family income in the US in 1958 was $5,000. My family was normal. Buying a second home in the Rockies seemed like a dream that they could make into a reality.


I remember going trailer shopping on West Colfax Avenue with my parents.  I don't know how many times we went, but I do remember the experience. And I remember the trailers we initially looked at were long and looked more like the photos at the top than the Shasta they bought. While I don't have an actual photo of it, I found  many pictures of a red Shasta that looked just like ours. 

We lived on a large corner lot when I was a kid. My dad sacrificed part of his garden area to provide a parking space for our new trailer.  I sort of turned it into my little clubhouse where my friends could come over. I hooked up the garden hose so we could have running water. The trailer was laid out with two seats and a folding table at front. The table would collapse and the seat cushions would push together to create a sleeping space for two up front. The miniature kitchen had a stove, sink, and refrigerator. There was a bed at the rear with a single cot-like thing above. The trailer could effectively provide sleeping for five people.

The one and only time my family used the trailer was probably in the summer of 1959. My mother drove a pink and coppertone Plymouth Belvedre which had a trailer hitch installed so that we could take the Shasta up into the mountains. Instead of going to the lot they owned (the purpose of buying the trailer), we went up to some lake to go fishing with their friends. And instead of going to a recognized campground, they found some flat space in the middle of nowhere to park. I happened to have a cold during this trip. They took me along rather than leaving me with a sitter. They sat at the little table and played cars while I sat on the upper bunk doing who knows what until that moment I did what you might now see on Youtube or America's Funniest Home Videos (except we did not have videos back then). I put a used Sylvania Blue Dot flash bulb in my mouth. And for some damn fooled reason, I bit on it.  I think I may have expected to crack the glass bulb and make it crackle as opposed to shattering into a thousands of tiny shards of glass - in my mouth. Which is exactly what happened.


I remember there was momentary chaos and a lot of why did you do thats?. I got the glass out and learned to never do that again. Since then I have been more thoughtful about a lot of things I do, especially when it comes to avoid getting hurt.


After that I tried to go to sleep but my cough persisted. I was told to go to the car to sleep. I don't think I ever spent a more frightening night in my life. My mother was no June Cleaver.

I have reported here before  that my big brother often told me I was adopted. Sometimes I wish he was right. That would explain how someone would be so dumb as to buy a building lot in the mountains before understanding how much it would cost to build a dream cabin. No matter how small a place might be, construction costs money.  And it could also explain how a parent could make a child sleep alone in  a car in the wild Rocky Mountains filled with bears and mountain lions. I did, however, make it out alive.


Today I sell houses in Key West. A lot of my buyers are purchasers of second homes. I like to think I keep people from making dumb mistakes like my parents did. You can have your dream home. 



Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Barbara Todaro 12/05/2017 06:37 AM
ActiveRain Community
Florida Monroe County Key West
gary thomas realtor
key west real estate blog
preferred properties key west
denver in th e1950s
shasta trailer
trailer exposition

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Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good evening Gary Thomas,

I loved this!! You are indeed a wonderful story teller..loved the photos! I remember thinking I could fly so jumped off the top of the stairs by our bedroom..not a fun experience..but I lived to tell about it! Ha Ha!! The things we thought to do then when our noses weren't glued to a computer screen!

Dec 05, 2017 04:59 PM #20
Corey Martin
Martin Presence Group - Ruston, LA
Real Estate and Management Solutions

What a wonderful story! I used to love those trailers. Thank you for sharing your story!

Dec 05, 2017 07:11 PM #21
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Just think what that trailer would be worth if you had it today.

Dec 05, 2017 09:10 PM #22
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Sometimes, you’ll find life lessons in the least likely places or places that you wouldn’t think of that way.

Dec 05, 2017 09:47 PM #23

I just love this story. What a wonderful read, and I'm delighted to find you in the Rain. gmail login

Dec 05, 2017 11:39 PM #24

I just love this story. What a wonderful read, and I'm delighted to find you in the Rain.

Dec 05, 2017 11:42 PM #25
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

That was great. I think our parents were on the same wavelength. Our second home was called The Caravan and we got a lot of use out of it.

Dec 06, 2017 12:28 AM #26
Pat Glass

Very sweet story. Thanks for sharing .

Dec 06, 2017 05:26 AM #27
Pat Glass
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT

Very sweet story.  Thanks for sharing!

Dec 06, 2017 05:28 AM #28
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Great nostalgic story!  Always wonderful to bring back childhood memories around the holidays!

Dec 06, 2017 06:25 AM #29
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Thanks for taking us on a trip down memory lane. As I read it was like watching a movie, I could see it all so clearly.

I appreciate how you take that story as a lesson that helps you work with the consumer to a realistic solution to their dreams.


Dec 06, 2017 06:35 AM #30
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Gary, you are a great storyteller! I am glad you reflect on your past in order to help your clients make good decisions!

Dec 06, 2017 06:42 AM #31
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you for sharing your stories.  Those were definitely different times.  I understand completely!  Not only did my parents have an Airstream trailer on a farmers lake land, but I spent the night with a broken arm - both bones in my forearm were broken falling off my bike.  I don't think they knew it was broken, but they did the next day!  Interesting times!

Dec 06, 2017 07:04 AM #32
Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

thank you for the great story

Dec 06, 2017 07:57 AM #33
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

I was expecting you to say the value of that little lot provided for their retirement!  My parents bought a lot in the Chicago suburbs when I was very small and I remember taking the train (we had no car) every once in a while to clean up the lot. They eventually sold it and bought a home in the city. Happy ending for me anyway!

Dec 06, 2017 08:41 AM #34
Pat Starnes, Brandon, MS
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
Broker Associate, ABR, 601-278-4513

What a great childhood memory, and I chuckled as I read the account of your experience. You're lucky to have survived childhood, what with your crazy antics. No wonder you had to sleep in the car!

Dec 06, 2017 10:28 AM #35
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Gary,

A good life lesson indeed.

Dec 06, 2017 02:14 PM #36
Laura Filip
RE/MAX UTOPIA , Serving all of Texoma - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with us. Memories made for sure. 

Brr sleeping in the mountians in the car. Yikes no spleep for me for sure 

Dec 06, 2017 05:46 PM #37
Eric Simpson

I enjoyed the (sad) story but honesty it doesn't sound like your parents were the brightest bulbs.

Dec 06, 2017 08:38 PM #38
Susan McCall, Everyone needs a home
Compass Realty Solutions, Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA - Portland, OR
Quickly, professionally and with a little fun!

I have memories of the same trailer.  My parent rented one which was very similar and we were off to Yellowstone Park.  We spent 3 days trying to get the car fixed since it was over heating and we lived in the Shasta waiting for the car.  We got half way there and when the car was fixed my parents turned around and came home!!!  Great stories!

Dec 07, 2017 12:04 AM #39
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