This past Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day the best we could given the current COVID-19 outbreak restrictions. My wife’s mother passed a number of years back, so one of the few things we were allowed to do under the current restrictions was visit the cemetery where she is buried. After paying my respects to my mother-in-law, I went “next door” to visit my grandparents (George and Rose Helgeson) who are buried nearby and wish my Grandma Rose a happy Mother’s Day as well.
As I was brushing the grass clippings away from their headstones and pondering the current state of affairs I started to do the math and realized my grandparents were both in their later twenties when the great pandemic of 1918 (aka Spanish Flu) occurred.
Given the current pandemic media bombardment, you have probably learned about the Spanish Flu and the devastation it caused over one hundred years ago. Unlike the current pandemic that is targeting older people with underlying conditions, the Spanish Flu targeted healthy people, especially those in the 20 – 40 age group. This meant my grandparents were prime targets during the 1918 pandemic.
Life always moves on
My grandparents survived the pandemic (or I wouldn’t be writing this) and went on to operate one of the earliest “house trailer” dealerships in the State of Washington called Central Trailer Exchange.
In the 1930s the acronym “RV” was more than 40 years in the future and the differentiation between a travel trailer and mobile home hadn’t yet occurred either. When I came on the scene I fondly remember regularly visiting the dealership where my dad worked and traveling to Wally Byam Caravan Club rallies in an Airstream trailer with my family along with my grandparents in their Airstream.
Growing up I never recall my grandparents mentioning the Spanish Flu, or being cautious around people at family outings or social gatherings like trailer rallies. Things were just normal, which brings me back to my ponderings while cleaning their headstones.
I happily came to the realization that yes, this pandemic will also pass, and normal will return where we can once again enjoy family gatherings, enjoy social gatherings under the shade of an RV patio awning and more.
Pondering the past of my RVing grandparents has helped assure me of what’s to come. Yes, many more adventures in RVing with friends and family are in everyone’s future.
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.