I am in receipt of a hand-written note from an Airstream Life subscriber, which is reproduced below:
People take Airstream Life quite seriously.
Tin Hut, in case you don’t know, has been a long-running humor series in the magazine. Tin Hut and his wife Mrs. Hut engage in various quasi-redneck trailer adventures involving hick relatives, crazy RV parks, deranged squirrels, and Mr. Ed The Horse look-alike contests. Every issue for the past several years I’ve been the fortunate recipient of a letter or two from the Huts detailing their latest misadventure, which I’ve been pleased to print in the magazine.
The only problem I’ve had with Tin Hut is that it is beloved by some and hated by just as many. At Alumapalooza the past two years I’ve asked for a show of hands from people who love the series, and I always get a sheepish wave from about half the people in attendance. Then I ask who despises the series, and the rest of the crowd hisses and boos.
Well, like the Vice President, I get to cast the deciding vote when the House is deadlocked, and so I’ve run the Tin Hut series steadily. (Besides, my mother likes it and she gets two votes.) I even collected 23 episodes into a book which you can buy in print or in Kindle ebook format.
But lately the man behind the series, Jim Snead, has confessed that the Huts are nearing the end. Poor Mr. Hut has fallen out of trees, been electrocuted, set on fire, lost his hair, and has been locked in a Port-O-Let and shipped to a women’s prison. He’s getting too old for that sort of thing. Last issue (Winter 2012), for the first time since the series began, I did not get a letter from the Huts, and it looks like I won’t have one for the Spring 2013 either. I am working with Jim to see if at least the Huts can have a final send-off. It will be a shame to say goodbye to them, but I’ve learned that in the magazine world, nothing lasts forever. Tin Hut will join other beloved sections of the magazine, like “eBay Watch” that eventually reached their logical conclusion and sputtered to a halt.
I am always sad to see a good series go, but that’s life. Something will come up to replace it. We only have 64 pages in each issue (at least until the economy picks up a bit more) and so the departure of Tin Hut means that some other good idea will now have the opportunity to take a few pages in Airstream Life in the future. I’ll be looking.
Meanwhile, I’m having some fun with an article in the upcoming Spring 2013 issue. Fred Coldwell, who has written “Old Aluminum” for about eight years, is still going strong with his series about vintage Airstreams. He left off at 1960 in the last issue, and his article inspired a letter from avid reader Don Williams. Don has a mystery California-built Airstream trailer dating from 1960, and offered us some clues and photos as to its true identity. Is it a rare Comet, or an “18 Footer” or Traveler?
Fred wrote up a hilarious investigation in the persona of “Sherlock M Homes” (the “M” stands for mobile), and his trusty sidekick Dr. Walban (for the popular Airstream polish called Walbernize). Methodically sorting through the clues remaining in the gutted old trailer, he eventually reveals a surprise conclusion as to the identity of “the body.” It’s a unique way to make an entertaining story out of what might otherwise have been a dull forensic study, and we’ve been having fun tweaking it this week.
Fred’s timing is ideal, as coincidentally I bought the entire collected Sherlock Holmes works by Arthur Conan Doyle on Kindle last month and have been reading through all three huge volumes in my spare time. So I’m currently deeply immersed in the stylings of A.C. Doyle and was able to give Fred some advice on Holmes’ (er, Homes) characteristic turns of phrase. He and I have been shooting back and forth emails all day to suggest more bad Holmes jokes. I doubt half of them will get printed, but who cares? This is the stuff that makes editing a magazine really fun.
I am glad I don’t have a boss looking over my shoulder, or an editorial review committee to take the goofiness out of these things. Sure, it’s all hokey and silly, but it’s good for the heart too. I’m sorry to the subscriber who sent me the note, and I’ll regret losing him as a subscriber, but let’s remember you shouldn’t take life too seriously. Or Airstream Life.