I wrote in a previous blog post that the moment we laid eyes on our Overlander, she whispered to us, “Take me home and make me fabulous”. It’s funny the things you remember about that first walk through. The smell, the squeaks in the rotten floor, the sound of the cabinets when they latch. I remembered asking about all the weird brackets hanging everywhere. The owner told us they were for bunk beds. He said the original owner had four of them installed from the Airstream dealer for all his kids. There were two over the twin beds, one over the sofa bed, and one, believe it or not, over the sink and cooktop! I had visions of kids hanging everywhere in there! I thought about all those kids many times during the restoration and after a long year, she is FABULOUS! But, turns out, she wasn’t “home”.
The manual and many of the original documents from the original purchaser in 1967 were still inside the trailer when we got it. I saved them all and one item in particular always seemed to haunt me. It was the original “Lifetime Warranty Identification Card”. I had it on my desk for several months and kept thinking I would make a magnet out of it or find something creative to do with it. One morning I decided to google the name on the card. Up popped the same name, in the same city, but with a “the second” behind it. I think my heart skipped a beat! An image of all those kids hanging everywhere popped in my head. I wrote a letter and filed it away with the plan of mailing it once the trailer was finished, then just before our first big adventure at Christmas to the coast, I pulled out the letter and placed it in a Christmas Card. I mailed it and waited.
Dear Mr. Ibsen,
Last year my husband and I purchased a 1967 Overlander to restore. The original “Lifetime Warranty” information was still inside and listed the purchaser as Ole N. Ibsen of Bloomington, Illinois. I’m hoping this was your father’s trailer. If not, I apologize for the intrusion and you can stop reading now. If it was indeed your father’s trailer, I thought you might be interested in seeing what has become of it.
I have documented the restoration through a blog and a short youtube video.
We would love to hear any memories you and your family have shared in the Overlander and look forward to hearing from you.
I thought about the letter several times while we were on our trip. Did he receive it? Was it him? Did he care about his Dad’s old trailer? Did he think I was crazy for writing him? Would he contact us? Did he have pictures? A few days after we got back home from our trip we received an email that would turn our world upside down.
Dan and Steph, yes, this is our 1967 Airstream Overlander. I cried when I watched the restoration video. We have such fond memories of camping in the Airstream and going to Airstream Rallies. I have always remembered our Wally Byam number 18976. We had 7 children and I am the oldest boy. I worked side by side with my Dad as we set up the trailer at the campgrounds and traveled with the whole family. It was too expensive to stay in hotels/motels, so an Airstream was the next best thing. My parents purchased the unit in 1967 brand new for $7000. I was there when they bought it from Mann’s Travel Trailer Sales in Normal, Illinois. I remember the shape of the key as my Dad had it behind his ear when he shared he had made the “purchase” to my Mom. One fond memory I have is listening to the radio in the Airstream as Neil Armstrong was setting foot on the moon while camping in Florida during July 1969. My youngest brother did a search about 2 years ago in hopes of locating our family’s Airstream to no avail. We thought for sure it was gone for good.
I have so much to share with you all and would love to chat with you. We have 3 of our 7 siblings living here in Austin, Texas. I am in the “market” to purchase a Prevost Tour Bus, but the thought of being able to get the old Airstream…words cannot describe. My phone number is ***-***-**** and we moved to Austin in October of 2018. Can we come and see the unit?
Thank you so much for reaching out to us. I look forward to hearing from you.
Ole N. Ibsen II
We cried, had goosebumps, and were like deer in the headlights. Stunned with excitement and happiness for this man that finally found his Family Overlander. We looked at each other and said, “We have this man’s trailer”. Before we had a chance to process what we just read, the phone rang. The voice on the other end was tearful when he said his name. More tears, more goosebumps, and a wild, wonderful, crazy conversation ensued. Somewhere in there, I heard him say, “If you ever want to sell the trailer”. I don’t think I even responded. It was too much. We couldn’t possibly do that. No way. He said he wanted to get with one of his brother’s and arrange a time so they could come out and see the trailer once again. When the call ended, I looked at Dan and knew everything had changed in an instant. It felt like a gut punch and a big hug at the same time. After much thought and a couple of sleepless nights we came to the conclusion that this was indeed his trailer, we could find another one. So, we sent the email.
Wow…wow…wow. Dan and I haven’t been able to think of anything other than you, your family, and the Overlander ever since we read your heartfelt email and then our wonderful phone conversation. We have always believed that everything happens for a reason. We have had some life changes over the past year that have also influenced our decision but mostly, it just feels right. If you are interested in buying the trailer, it is for sale.
Whether you are interested in buying the trailer or not, we would love to have you, your wife, and any of your family come up and enjoy the trailer…anytime!
In about five minutes the phone rang. Through tears, I heard, “Yes, Yes, Yes…we want the trailer”.
This has been one of the most amazing and unbelievable experiences of our lives. We could never imagine selling this trailer. It was that email! I get weepy every time I read it! I’m sure that sounds crazy, but all you fellow Vintage lovers know what we are talking about. We buy these trailers, spend a year or two (or more!) working on them, all the while dreaming, planning, and wondering; not only of our future travels but of it’s past. Where has it been? Has it been on Caravans or to International Rallies? What was it towed with? What were the people like? Wonder what happened to all those kids that hung everywhere in here? All those questions have been answered. Unbelievable!
Many of the original accessories were still with the trailer when we purchased it. The original aluminum wheel chocks, (Dan really wanted to keep those! They are so cool!) the Airstream jack plate, the separate second folding step that slid into the one on the trailer, and….yes…all four bunk beds! We had given them to Paul at A & P Vintage Trailer Works in the event he had a customer that might want to use them in their restoration. He still had them! The new/old owner will be reinstalling them in the trailer to accommodate the next generation of his family in the official, “Ibsen Family Overlander”!
As for us, I’m afraid our restoration days are behind us. We saved three trailers on this wonderful Airstream journey and the thought of them all being on the road for another 50 years feels good. Really, really, good! We never knew anything about the original owners of our 1976 Overlander, only that she used Chanel moisturizer and they lived near Lake Texoma. Our Safari had spent time in the Keys and the original owner met Perry Como once while on a camping trip there! And now we know our 1967 Overlander was owned by a big family that loved her and never, ever forgot about her. ❤
We started searching for another trailer once the shock of selling this one wore off and BAM! There she was! One mile from our old house in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma! Another strange coincidence? I think not! The Airstream Spirits were working their magic! The moment we saw her, we knew she was THE ONE! I’ll save the details for another post. But, for now……
Happy Trails Sweet Overlander! You look FABULOUS! Welcome Home!