Camping was all the rage in the 1950s. It was a family activity and was affordable. My family would generally go to the ocean (which meant Ocean Shores/Ocean City/Copalis) or Packwood. And I remember once we went “around the loop,” which is what traveling the Washington peninsula from the Tacoma area to Port Angeles to Ocean Shores and back home . . . or the reverse was called. As a child, camping was always fun and exciting.
In Washington State you can go camping almost any time of year. On our first anniversary, Peggy and I celebrated by camping at Ocean City near the end of November. We awoke at midnight in the middle of a storm. We thought the wind was going to whip away our little nest. We held onto each other and the tent pole for over an hour. Near the end of the seventies we bought a truck and camper. We traveled the state. Locally, Peg would load up the kids and the camper and head off to Kopachuck or Penrose Point. I would join them after work.
About ten years ago I got the urge to camp, again. We bought a better tent, a double sleeping bag, and other gear. I still have two folding camping chairs in our storage room that have never been used. The rest of the gear was all given to Patrick, our youngest son. We never went camping. A few years ago we bought a motorhome. Patrick used it once for camping at Mt. Rainier and Del, our older son drove it to Disneyland with his family. We never spent a night in it.
I still like the dream of camping, but not the reality of it. It has got me thinking, however. Who invented the tent? What is a tent? What is an awning?
“The first evidence of tent construction can be carbon dated to around 40,000 B.C. While structurally rudimentary, the protective elements of the tents were made from Mammoth hides.” – The History of the Tent: From mammoth to man-made – April 2, 2013 by nikwax.
Killing a mammoth was usually a joint effort. Hunters and gatherers can’t afford to throw anything away, so it’s easy to understand that the first tents began with piles of tusks and bones and then covered with the skins of the mammoth and other animals. The skin and bone homes were probably excellent dwellings until the group needed to move on. Following herds or having favorite hunting grounds meant traveling. Lugging tusks and bones around could be a mammoth task, so they eventually figured out that just packing up the hides was a lot easier than carrying the heavy stuff.
Many early humans lived in caves, but there weren’t too many caves on the savanna or the plains of Mongolia or North American. Generally, yurts (Mongolia) and tents (Middle East and North America) were much easier to tear down and set-up for a mobile lifestyle. Although, some people still live in tents of some sort, the majority of tents these days are for recreation or commercial applications.
Today’s tents are usually made of lightweight manmade materials that serve commercial/recreation needs or provide shelter in case of emergencies.
Farmers markets and trade shows are perfect for small tents or awnings (tents with no sides). From spring to early fall, towns and neighborhoods in Tacoma and Pierce County sell fresh produce or arts and craft goods. Both “taste of” type of events and celebrations are perfect for the use of easy to set-up pavilions. Trade shows are a little more serious. They too offer easy construction and tear down possibilities. One of the major manufactures of commercial tents and awnings is located here in Pierce County. Most people don’t realize that Tacoma Tent & Awning sells their products world wide. They have a patented system of construction for larger tent structures. Owner Scott Sutherland says, “Our commercial tent division, called Olympic Tent™, produces the strongest special event tent for all your temporary structure needs in sizes up to 50 feet wide by 500 feet long. Known as the original manufacturer of slide-in tops for frame tents, our slide track system is the best on the market.”
In emergencies, tents provide the basic survival need of shelter. For example the Shelterbox, endorsed by Rotary International contains a family sized tent, a cooking stove, and other goods and tools that can be deployed almost anywhere in the world to help people live through disasters. Local conferences generally have Shelterboxes on display.
Mankind has made great strides in construction, electronics, fabrication, and transportation, but it’s still kind of comforting to know that our basic original homes, are still with us providing the same service they always did.