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Our houses on wheels

Mobile Mansions Taking 'Home Sweet Home' on the Road Douglas Keister Gibbs Smith, $24.95

June 22, 2006|Bettijane Levine

America's love affair with taking the comforts of home on the road started with covered wagons, which served the same purpose as today's RVs, but in a far different context.

In addition to offering bed and shelter, the wagons offered what must surely have been one of the most exhilarating (and arduous) off-road adventures experienced by humans. Come to think of it, the wagons never went away.

They simply evolved into more protective and advanced motorized versions, known through the years as camp cars, house cars, campers, vans, RVs and motor homes.

Starting with the earliest motorized homes and continuing through the present, the book chronicles glorious examples of custom-made and mass-produced campers, inside and out.

The photos alone would explain the magnetic attraction of these vehicles over the years. They form an upbeat catalog of mobile homes, from an early Craftsman style that looks as if the Greene brothers might have built it, to the classic "silver bullet" that still comes off as futuristic.

The text is light, yet packed with historical perspective and spiced with eye-opening tidbits. Did you know, for example, that Thomas Edison, Mae West, Howard Hughes and even the naturalist John Muir were at one time on the open road, traveling with their favorite pillows and blankies in their campers?

There's not much to discuss about interior decor, you might think. But there is. Even in small confines such as these, much can be done to make the space homey and attractive.

And those whose vehicles are pictured have managed to do it.

It's a great book for anyone who owns or who lusts for a mobile mansion.

-- Bettijane Levine

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