Keith’s camping trailer creations….more inventions!

Camping was a big part of our family life. My Dad, Keith, would religiously take off three weeks in August and off we would go to some interesting place to spend the three weeks exploring, swimming, fishing, hiking, or even horse back riding.  I have my horseshoe I found back then up on the wall of my car port area for luck.

It says Hurricane Ridge 1955?

It is labeled Hurricane Ridge 1955?

Below are some entries from his car log that I have featured in a past post. I have read through this log and was able to find some of the trips we took in the 1950’s.

Most of my memories of our trips would be of scenic’s or impressions of places but where that place was I don’t remember. I know that we pretty much went to every nook and cranny of Washington State. I do remember Alta Lake because of the flash flood and the bees on my pancakes and syrup in the morning. Dad put me in the trailer to keep me from getting wet so I looked over and watched the water flow by while the other campers with tents were yelling and racing about. I felt bad for them and also thought it was funny. I know we went to Glacier Park in Montana and I remember a lake with tall hills on each side and I think it was this park?  I mentioned horse backing riding but I have no idea where that was?  I just remember being in pain because the horse was too big for me.

Curlew probably included a trip to Coulee Dam. Yes there are BIG engines (turbines) running a dam. He liked museums and interesting places to visit. My memories of Yellowstone were Old Faithful of course, and the mud pots which to me were funny…glup glup and I know we went to see the Tetons. There was a big trip to California and very tall trees and several you could drive through:

Munchkin alert...I wonder who is was.

Munchkin alert…I wonder who this was. Hurricane Ridge

I remember caverns that we visited. The Oregon Coast was always a must. The Olympic Peninsula was Hurricane Ridge before the highway. Many times we camped at Olympic Hot Springs Campground on the way to the Ridge. This campground does not exist anymore. Crater Lake because Dad heard a rattle snake curled up under a tumbleweed. Sun Lakes for the water and the fishing. I know we were in British Columbia. I think we visited every salmon hatchery that ever existed. We probably camped by a lake because he liked to fish. We really didn’t hike, we did walks long walks.

Lake Wenatchee picnic

Lake Wenatchee picnic, McD’s around the picnic tables…

The trips to Yakima or Spokane would be family visits to his sisters.  Sometimes they would come to the area we were camping at for a visit or were already there camping. My Dad was sort of a gypsy and so we would go just about anywhere. My aunts were expert picnic packers.

Here are some car log entries that were of interest to me.  I cannot vouch for his spelling in the outline below which makes it hard to figure out what he meant?

Trips written in the booklet:
July 9, 1949 Seattle to Yakima, back to Ellensburg,
July 24, So. Tacoma
August 6 Seattle to Yakima.
Nov 25 – Yakima, Thanksgiving, Nov. 27 Yak to Seattle
May 26, 1950 Yakima
July 2, 1950 Whidbey – Ferry $1.37
June 20, 1951 Vacation -3281 miles? Nisqually, Anacortes
July 7 Stevens Pass, Wenatchee Park
July 12, 1952 Lake Cushman, Ferry to Bremerton,
June 21, 1953 Lake Wenatchee St. Park, Lke Chelan, Entiat Gas, Spokane Greger fld – Fairchild, Greenacres Spokane Lake Rowan, Clarksfork.  (Was he looking for work?)
Lake Rown most July 6, 1957, Glacier Nat Prk, Dayton Mont. Kalaspill, Coeur D’Alene, Greenacres (sister Vivians home), Spokane, Cheney, Ritzville, Ellensburg, Seattle. 1561.4 miles.
July 20, 1952 – Lake Kachess, North Bend, Upper Katchess to M. Baker Easton, Rustic Inn.
Aug 1, 1952 Lk Rossinger, Camano Camp Lagoon,
Aug 17 Sunday Paradise, Mt. Rainier,
Aug 29, 1952 – _________Mukilteo, Camp Boat, via Deception Pass.

Ellensburg April about July 27, 1953 Pass Closed – Wenatchee, Everett
Aug. 15, 1953 – pg. 41 Ale…..can’t read, Portland, Madreas, Oregon, Chimult, Diamond Lake, Crater Lake, Kalamath, Medford, Ore., Calif., Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, CA, Alameda?, Park & San Jose, Hayward, CA, Hayward Motel $8, August 21. Hayward to Frisco, San Rafel, Lakeport, Uriah, Aug 26 Eureka, Arcata, CA, Trees of Mystery, Cresent City, OR, Oregon Cave Junction, Oregon Caves Aug. 27, Umpqua OR. Eugene, Toledo, WA, Rainier, WA Home Friday Aug _______. (He might have been looking for work in California).

Feb 22, 1954 – Concrete, Burlington
May 29, Saturday to Westport – mentions State Park but not the name.
June 27, 1954 Lodgepole, Larabee. (This is up near Bellingham).
July 5, Wenber, Jasbree to Wendberg final via Wenburg and Nodnville?
July 6, Norma Beach
Sept 4 to Monte Cristo

Oct 19, 1954 100,000 miles 7514 24 NE at 5:35 pm missed by 1.7 miles in garage at 100,000.2  – (He liked to mark the mileage of his cars)

July 2, 1955 Sun Lake, Leavenworth to Seattle 472.3 miles.
August 11, 1955 Vacation Olympics, Port Angeles, Clallum Bay.
September 2, 1955 – Mt. Baker via Darrington, Concrete, Baker Lake, Baker to Thompson Home via Everett. 
May 16, 1956 Westport Trip
October 21, 1956 Roslyn Locker Beef
April 20, 1957 Mt. Si.
May 25, 1957 Norma Beach
March 22, 1959 Stevens Ski
October 2, 1959 another Westport Trip.

Nov. 17, 1967 E. Anderson of Seattle bought the old 1940 Chevy – Lumberwagon. The END.  He might have regretting selling it at some point.

In order to support all this camping, Keith turned to creating his own camping trailers much like the tent trailers of today but he would use aluminum. Remember that in his military experience he worked a lot with airplane bodies. Now Keith was an inventor but not necessarily a designer. Apparently there were several incarnations of what he called the Calamity Wagon.

Trailer - Hurricane Ridge 1955

Trailer – Hurricane Ridge 1955

It would start out looking like just a trailer with sides

It would start out looking like just a trailer with sides

Improving the design

Improving the design

The C Wagon was the trailer on the left with a canvas awning

The C Wagon was the trailer on the left with a canvas awning

So it would start out looking like a trailer with sides, then open up into what you see above. He would add a canvas awning to the front where he could place cots for sleeping. The girls got to sleep in the trailer part while the boys got the canvas part. The cots; however, were metal legs with a frame, with canvas stretched across and tied to the metal through holes or hooks and they might have been his design? The rain would make a great sound pattering on the roof.

There was a camp light with the cloth filter and kerosene pump which you started with a match. The camp stove was also kerosene with a pump. I never learned although he tried to teach me how to use them.  These items would make interesting noises.

We also had lawn chairs the type with canvas and wood as well as canvas and wood camp stools. The food would go into these aluminum boxes he made with covers to lock them from the animals because back then you had to be very careful. Sometime we would put the food up in a tree.  If there wasn’t a table well we had an aluminum one that would fold in half, lock and had a handle.  We all had our own fishing poles. It was the best fun.

Considering that we went everywhere there are not a lot of photographs of our camping trips and ones that are labeled identifying the location. I think he was more inclined to us his Bell and Howell movie camera to record the event. Maybe someday I will get those movies broken down into pieces. I did move them from 8mm to DVD at one time.

This was not the only camping trailer design, there would be another he called the Freek.

Posted in British Columbia, California, Idaho, Keith B. MacDonald, Oregon, Spokane County, Tacoma Pierce County, Washington State, Yakima | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Jet Engines, Airframes, Electronic and Missile Familiarization…

Keith believed an encouraged all he knew to be serious about education. We have seen that he enrolled in many courses furthering his craft over the years. He continued to do that in the 1950’s.

He had taken a course in Jet Engines about 10 years before but he enrolled again in course titled Aircraft Jet Engine Mechanics Course and received his certificate on 4 December, 1956.

1956 Jet mechanic course

1956 Jet mechanic course

In the photo below Keith is the man on the far right holding his hat and frowning into the sun.

Keith and Others

Keith and Others

On the back of the photo the names are written: Silas Collier, John Strohschein, Earl N. Johnson, Ralph W. [Harrier], K.B. MacDonald

Names on the back of the picture

Names on the back of the above picture

In 1958 he received another certificate. This time from the Air University, United States Air Force Extension Course Institute. He graduated and received his certificate on February 13, 1958 in their Airframe Repairman Course. This Air University was out of  Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama.  It is still around this Air University:

Air Frames Course 1958

Air Frames Course 1958

Both of these certificates were signed by D.C. Strother.

He took courses again from the Edison Technical School in Seattle in 1959. He did a 48 hr course on Electronics Familiarization, his Certificate of Attendance is dated 26 March, 1959.  He then did a 36 hour course on Missile Familiarization and received his Certificate of attendance on 7 May, 1959.  Then in November he received another Air University Certificate referring to the course titled: Fundamental Principles of Guided Missiles, Nov. 6, 1959.

Certificate on Fund of Guided Missiles

Certificate on Fund of Guided Missiles

Keith is the one on the far left sitting down and holding his certificate.  He looks tired. There are no names on the back of this photo which would have been a big job if all those people were in the class.  Do you notice only one woman is seated.

Keith with Others

Keith with Others no names on the back this time.

There is a trend going on here with Keith’s career. He is still at Boeing working as an U.S. Air Force Inspector but the Air Force and Boeing are changing rapidly.

Among his possessions are two wallet sized green cards.

One card was dated 18 Nov, 1960 Expires INDEFINITELY, his name, USAF – AFPR: Need to know for access to Minuteman Controlled Areas and Security Clearances Verified.  He has another dated Sept 6, 1962.

In the photos presented above, I don’t know exactly when they happened but I do remember that my Dad left home on several occasions to go to a location in the middle of the country to attend classes.  Once was in the late 1950’s and then in the mid 1960’s.

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Venturing into Remodeling in the 1940’s to the 1950’s in North King County, WA and Government Improvements

Keith’s, grandmother, Amarilla Urton died in 1942 and he got a little money from her estate. I wonder if that money was used to remodel our house in north King County. My parents were savers having gone through the depression and were experiencing the rationing of World War II, so I am sure they planned this carefully.

They purchased the house on 24th Avenue in 1942 with a FHA mortgage and moved there in order to start their family. It was not a big house and probably was one of the war houses?  Yes, he saved all the paperwork about the house even the for sale sign. Apparently the house was damp and needed these improvements for health reasons.

Keith, my dad, not only invented things, he also did carpentry, plumbing and house remodeling. He didn’t do this all by himself, he had help from my Uncle Boardie and my grandfather Robert Boardman who were plumbers by profession. They were his in-laws.

He also hired a H.K. Rowe to do some of the work like finish the interior of the house, electrical, insulation, sewer and the furnace.  Mr. Rowe was our neighbor. It looks like Ace Construction Co. was also employed to help in the remodeling.

This house remodeling was done in three phases:

Phase I:

  1. Raising the house and building a basement in April 1944 for which he had to get approval from the mortgage company.  I find this fascinating that they were brave enough to do this raising of our home.
  2. Move the utility room to the basement to enlarge the kitchen which will improve the usefulness of the house.
  3. Move the chimney to the south side of the house with consideration for future enlargement of the living room.
  4. Later the fixing up of the room below the living and dining room and making it a rec room with an extra bedroom.
Raising the house for a basement

Raising the house for a basement

Raising the house

Raising the house with help from the in-laws

The laundry got washed even with the mess.

The laundry got washed even with the mess.

What a mess!

The basement, what a mess! It would be very cool and a great place to play.

Phase II:

Adding on to the south end of the house increasing the size of the basement and upper floor which would expand the living and dining room area and move the kitchen eventualy result in a rec room and bedroom under the dining and new kitchen area. This work was done late 1940’s and early 1950’s.  Fixing up the interior was a big part of this project.

South End Extension

South End Extension

Our Addition - Mom peaking out of the window

Our Addition – Mom peaking out of the window

The old kitchen door gets closed up.

The old kitchen door gets closed up.

Munchkin among the lumber for the extension

Munchkin alert, one is playing among the lumber for the extension

Phase III:

Building a garage and elephant pit (for working on cars from below) on the north side of the house mid 1950’s.

Building the Garage

Building the Garage

In about 1947 the City of Seattle began the process of improving our streets with branches and lateral sewers which involved assessments to be paid by the homeowners. In 1947 a notice arrived about a trunk sewer system with 3 pages of description about where these improvements would take place.  It listed the streets on one page, in detail, and then the additions on another. This was a huge improvement based on Resolution #14168.



The public hearing would take place on September 9, 1947 at 2 pm in the City Council Chambers, Room 513 County-City Building.  Petitions and protests needed to be filed the day before and would go to the Streets and Sewers Committee for consideration at the open meeting on the 9th. If you wanted to know more you went to the City Engineer to see the details of the plan.  Total costs would amount to $60,000.00 which would be contributed from the Seattle Sewer Bonds 1946 Fund.

The blog Wedgwood in Seattle History has a nice post on How Wedgwood came into the city limits of Seattle, August 20, 2012 with some cool annexation maps of various neighborhoods acquired by Seattle.  Hayes Park was annexed by 1941.  However the city limits of Seattle were at 85th then later moved to 145th where they are now butting up the City of Shoreline which was incorporated about 1995.

In 1950 the property owners received notice for adding fire hydrants only – Resolution #14265 and the public hearing would be held on March 8, 1950 at 10 am.

The next phase of improvements was paving the streets adding sidewalks, with parking strips. I remember the big water hoses and the sprinklers to cure the cement, I highly recommend not riding your bike over the hoses it might prove to be painful.

Yes, I remember the rough roads, lots of rocks, puddles and mud.  I went everyone in my pedal push car resisting learning how to ride a bike till later.

Driving everywhere even on rough roads

Driving everywhere even on rough roads – before the improvements

I did not remember they widened the road…love the mailboxes in the street.

Road work begins

Road work begins

Paving improvements started in about 1955 with a public hearing before the Sewers and Street Committee on Tuesday, September 20th, 1955 at 2 pm. The total estimated cost would be $419,051.82 of which $31,900 would come from the City Street Fund and $950.00 from the City Water Fund.

Two meetings followed in 1957 amount paving improvements with hefty assessments of $565.65 cents which could be paid by the property owner in installments. Hayes Park and Wedgwood appear in the first listing and then Wedgwood disappears in the next listing for Additions, which I find a bit confusing.  I get the feeling they were re-evaluating the assessments so I don’t know for sure if the amount above of $565.65 was the final amount or only a portion?

Then in July of 1958 another announcement came for the same “by paving, together with sewers, water mains and hydrants, grading, drainage were necessary and constructing sidewalks.” Public hearing would be July 15, 1958 at the City Council Chambers. Not only did the City Treasure send a bill but the mortgage company also got involved.

If my memory serves the paving took place in the mid 1960’s for our area in North Seattle. I do have full copies of the City Notices if anyone is interested, just leave a comment.

Posted in Keith B. MacDonald, Seattle, Washington State | 5 Comments

1952 – Keith the Inventor gets a patent in 1956

Keith was an inventor and a tinkerer.  He was also very fond of aluminum and rivets. I know this because I used to help him “buck rivets” out on his creations. He liked to fire up the table saw in our basement and run aluminum sheets through it, usually at a very early time of day.  It was loud and would drive us all crazy. This love of metal came out of his repairing airplane bodies.

The Nash in the photo below was brown with beige tones, and really nice inside. He didn’t have it for very long.  You can see the trailer is very crude because he made it.

A Nash and his trailer

A Nash and his trailer

I don’t know if this is the trailer above or if he made another to use or he borrowed it?

Another version of his trailer

Another version of his trailer

Among his many creations were his boat, trailer(s), different versions of camping trailers, a sort of car and trailer combo, and his oar design. I will post about some of his other creations in future posts. Yes, he gave them all names.

He loved to fish and so he designed an oar to rest the fishing pole on. It was attached to the side of the boat so it could be moved around as you liked. I would go out with him and his brother, Gordon, in the boat and fish somewhere nearby. They would say very little, maybe one or two words and a grunt here and there, but it would mostly be in silence.  Now if you look closely you will see another car in the background…not sure what that one was?

Brother Gordon on the left and Keith with his big fish....

Brother Gordon on the left and Keith with his big fish….Look how confident he looks!

Keith's Oar Design

Keith’s Oar Design, apparently you needed to sit back to enjoy using the oar mechanism.

Boat Oar Display

Boat Oar Display

This oar design resulted in a patent being issued.

Keith with his oar samples off to the patent office.

Keith with his oar samples off to the patent office maybe?

Back then, in the 1950’s, business was conducted by telephone, if you wanted to be extravagant, or by letter. So this whole process to get a patent took from 1952 to 1956.

Keith paid Smith & Tuck $45.00 on March 29, 1952. Smith & Tuck were Attorneys and Counselors in Patent and Trade Mark Causes.  Maybe the photo above was his visit to their offices in Seattle at the 734 Central Building which I cannot find at this time on maps of downtown Seattle, of course, streets might be different now and the building is still there.

It took them to January 25, 1956 to finally secure a patent for Keith and it was #2,731,224 entitled FISHING POLE SUPPORT and POSITIONING DEVICE. The grant was for a period of seventeen years from 1956. It has since expired an is available to all to see.

1956 Smith & Tuck letter explaining the Patent issued

1956 Smith & Tuck letter explaining the Patent issued

Keith's patent page 1

Keith’s patent page 1

Keith's patent page 2

Keith’s patent page 2

Here is his patent referenced online: all seven pages of it.

What I can remember, of my first attempt to find it online, is people have been accessing it and liking the mechanism at the bottom of page 1.  I think he would be proud to see this.

If you have someone who has a patent and you don’t have all the official paperwork, just put the patent number into Google and you will get results or the title with the name of the person.  Good luck!

In 1956 the National Service Bureau in St. Louis inquired about his pole design. They wanted to know if it was for outright sale or on a royalty basis.

In May of 1956 Penn Fishing Tackle Mfg. turned him down. The Fisherman replied about advertising questions he must have asked in November of 1956. Associated Manufacturers Reps in Los Angeles replied in March of 1957 telling him the manufacture of his design would received a A-plus rating at a responsible plant and they would want 10% of the royalties and something about sale or assignment being completed? The manufacturer would pay engineering costs and Keith would pay a commission.  Apparently the two companies mentioned may still be around?

Somehow I think there was more going on but this was all I found in his papers. He was not too happy about the outcome. His board of designs of his fishing pole project are still hanging on the ceiling in the basement of the house. I am proud of my Dad, this was not an easy thing to do and he was not really an outgoing person.

Posted in Gordon McDonald, Keith B. MacDonald, King County, Seattle, Washington State | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments