A Child's Tiny Home in a Gypsy Wagon

Serenas

I was going over some old files in preparation for working on our new book on 21st century nomadics, and ran across this letter from Serena in Home Work (p. 176). It refers to the 37 Chevy flatbed truck converted to a rolling home by Joaquin de la Luz and his wife Gypsy, and featured in Shelter (pp. 90–91), and in later years used as a bedroom by 4-year-old Serena. It was such a nice example of happy childhood memories, I thought I’d reprint it here.

My earliest memories of the Gypsy Wagon begin when I was three or four years old. At that point, our family had settled down in a little house on the Klamath River, in Northern California. We had all moved out of the Gypsy Wagon but I really missed it. I remember begging my mom and dad to let me use it as my bedroom. Luckily for me, my parents were such free spirits that they could really relate to my independence. The wagon became my room.

I have memories of kissing my parents goodnight, leaving the house, and walking to my own little Gypsy Wagon. I had a huge doll that my mom had made for me, named “Howdy Doody.” She made it out of vintage dress fabric, with old mother-of-pearl buttons for the eyes and mouth. Each night, I’d hoist Howdy Doody over my shoulder (he was bigger than me) and off we’d go. I loved the coziness I felt each night as I climbed into my bed. I remember the beautiful hand construction of the wagon, the texture of the wood, the hinges, and the little window above my bed.

Everything about it was so warm. I think what made it so special was that is was filled with good intentions. My parents set out in the Gypsy Wagon because they were peaceful people. Their travels always had the purpose of happiness. The wagon was constructed almost entirely of other people’s discarded junk. My father’s creativity soared as he built it, and my mother made it a home. To this day, I really appreciate the warmth of simple things like old fabric and rusty metal. This is my history, as a child of free spirits with peace as their purpose. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

–Serena

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