My journey to building my first housecar began in 1968, when I bought my first transportation car. Working at Warner Brothers as an apprentice prop-maker helped me purchase my first car, a 1955 Mercury.
I learned a lot while working for Warner Bros, but I had never worked in a union shop where big egos existed. During this time, I started modifying my ’55 Mercury into a hippie housecar, where I now had a place to live and not pay rent. After six months, I could not take it anymore. I decided to quit and retake my freedom by getting out of the Los Angeles area and heading north.
My first stop was Santa Cruz, California. I met someone who could tell me where I could park and hang out for a while. This was a new experience for me—meeting and hanging out with strangers. It was during this time I got back to making my wire jewelry.
After a few weeks in Santa Cruz, I got restless and headed north again. I had a new friend that joined me on this trip. I gave him a ride to Oakland, California. He showed me a local head shop where I might be able to sell some of my jewelry. The owner liked my designs and purchased a dozen pairs of earrings. My FIRST sale. It gave me hope I could survive out there. I had lots of time to work on my craft because I was a single guy.
After spending a few months in Oakland, I heard about a commune in Takilma, Oregon, where I might stay for a while, so I headed north again to Takilma. It was summertime now, and Takilma was a great place to live. I spent a lot of time at a local swimming hole—nude of course, like everyone else.
Over time, I decided that the communal lifestyle was not for me. I grew tired of people in the commune using my things and not being careful with them. In the end, I knew it was time for me to move on, so I started my engine and headed north again to a town called Cascadia, Oregon. While staying in Takilma, I met some people who told me there would be a place for me to park in their driveway.
My jewelry making because more serious while living in Cascadia. I would knuckle down and make stock until I had enough to drive to Eugene, Oregon, where I found a few shops that bought my jewelry. I also sold my jewelry at the Eugene Saturday Market. The Saturday Market was where I preferred to sell my jewelry because I could make more money selling at retail. I also started expanding my line by linking my handmade wire flowers to necklaces and small wire sculptures. Also, it made sense for me to move to Eugene, where I rented a small apartment and started building my first housetruck. I sold my housecar to help me get money to build my first housetruck. I started with a 1952 Ford 3/4 ton flatbed and over months made myself a house on a truck, or a housetruck! I’ll save that adventure for a future blog.
Roger D. Beck