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50 Years of Northstar Memories

August 1971 – Camping at Lake Rathbun in Iowa


August 1973 – Rex, Jill, and Ryan Willett in a camper at an RV show

Rory Willet, President of Northstar Campers

There are a lot of memories.  I’m glad mom was a shutterbug in those days.  I’m glad we’ve scanned the photos because they are beginning to fade away.  In some of the photos it really shows how much younger Rex is than me.

I can remember being up in the cabover with the four facing windows.  All six of us up there playing, “Your car, my car” or “Your house, my house”.  Sometimes we would all roll side to side and dad would come back because he could feel the rig moving as he drove down the road.

When we got wild he would say, “Don’t make me come back there!  Settle down”.  We had a twelve volt intercom in the truck and in the camper.  You had to have communication between the truck and camper, which in turn made the invention of the sliding windows in the campers.

What we didn’t realize was that they would listen to us and they knew what we were doing because they could hear us.  All six of us rode in the cabover of the camper all the time.  There were no super cab trucks back then so that’s where we had to go.

One big trip was to Washington State and back through Yellowstone.  The best thing about that trip happened on the way to Yellowstone.  Mom was driving and talking to my sister.  It was in the middle of the night so they were just laughing and talking.  I was looking though the window of the camper at the road and saw a sign for the exits of Salt Lake City.  I told dad, “I thought we were supposed to be going to Yellowstone”.  He looked at the exits and realized we had driven four hours out of the way.  Mom said, “The road kept going, so I kept driving”.

When we would go camping as a family of eight, mom and dad and us six kids, we had a tent and a truck camper.  In fact, when we got to a campground, my brothers and I would sleep in the tent and mom, dad, and the girls would be in the camper with the air conditioning.

Earlier Mom talked about us camping in Wisconsin when I fell off the dock into the water.  I can still remember sinking under that dock.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  I could see the bluegill and bass hanging out under the dock just out of the sun’s rays streaming in at the late morning’s angle.  Then, I saw a bubbling arm thrust down just next to me.  That was my dad.  The second attempt he got me out and it was not so peaceful up on the dock.  Girls were screaming and my brother was crying.  That just throws me back!

I remember fishing on the Mississippi river in Lansing.  Along the river they had old water pumps.  My brother and I were working the water pumps and we could hear the sound of the pump going in higher and higher octaves.  My brother got tired, so I kept pumping away.  I didn’t realize that there was a hornet’s nest inside the pump.  When the water came up, the hornets came out.  We both got stung and ran like Olympic athletes.  I still don’t know how I ran that fast.

The six of us kids were spaced out about ten years.  It’s amazing that we got along so well.  I notice that when I take my family out camping, they’re all upset as we pack and head out on the trip.  Then on the way home, everyone is excited and happy.  It’s just something about truck camping.


Rex Willett


Rex’s 15th birthday in the camper


August 1973 – Rex Willett and his dad in a camper overcab


Rory holding Rex.  Rex is one year old in this photo


Christmas 1968 – See the truck camper out the window?


Chuck and Rex Willett fooling around while mowing the back forty at the plant

Rex Willett, Vice President of Northstar Campers

In ninety days, we will have our 50th year anniversary here at Northstar.  As far as I know, it’s the first ever in the world.  We’re gathering and scanning photos right now to put them in our “About Us” section on our website to share with others for our anniversary year.  My mom is in hospice, so that’s why I got digging in to the photos.

I am only one year old in many of the pictures.  If I didn’t have the pictures I wouldn’t know about those times.  They may not mean as much when you take them, but they become more valuable with time.

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