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Butler Family Buick: 1957

Edward and Gwen Butler, my grandparents, lived in this trailer in Connecticut. It's rather dwarfed by the massive '55 Buick and the 15-foot TV antenna. They had just returned from a trip to England, hence the luggage at the door. Photo by Edward Butler circa 1957 on a 35mm Kodachrome slide, scanned February 2021. View full size.

Edward and Gwen Butler, my grandparents, lived in this trailer in Connecticut. It's rather dwarfed by the massive '55 Buick and the 15-foot TV antenna. They had just returned from a trip to England, hence the luggage at the door. Photo by Edward Butler circa 1957 on a 35mm Kodachrome slide, scanned February 2021. View full size.

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Maybe 2¼"

By the 1950s, whitewalls were at a pretty standard 3 inches, but that didn't last long. Around 1954 through 1956, you could expect to see whitewalls from 2½ to 2¹¹⁄₁₆ inches on American cars. Then, 1957 through 1961 saw another change with whitewalls ranging from 2¼ to 2½ inches. Finally, the big change happened in 1962, when most American automotive manufacturers made the switch to 1-inch whitewalls.

Airequipt aluminum frame

WOW! does that bring back memories. I think I may still have an Airequipt slide projector around here somewhere complete with a collection of Airequipt magazines with the aluminum slide frames.

Rocket "88"

When I saw the comment on the Super 88, I immediately thought of the Jackie Brenston's (and Ike Turner) song Rocket "88", which many think is the first rock'n'roll song ever recorded.

You woman have heard of jalopies
You heard the noise they make
Let me introduce you to my Rocket '88
Yes, it's great, just won't wait
Everybody likes my Rocket '88
Baby, we'll ride in style movin' all along

The Slide, in Its Mount

Here's the original slide in its mount--although with an Airequipt aluminum frame removed!

On the back: "34 Made in U.S.A." No date stamp, alas.



Right above the Buick in the background is a clothesline. For younger viewers/readers of Shorpy, in the 1950's most people dried their laundry by using clothespins to hang their wet clothes on rope or wire lines erected in their backyard.

In larger trailer parks, there might be a common laundry room and clotheslines provided for residents. When I was growing up, we lived for a few years in a trailer park (roughly 60 trailer spaces) that had a common building containing toilets, showers, and a couple of old-fashioned wringer washing machines (not coin operated). There was a separate building with a good-sized community room, which was primarily used in the evening for watching a B&W television set while seated on folding chairs. There was only one channel available - no arguments about what to watch!

Date of Photo: Definitely 1957

Hi, Dave and Doubleclutchin,

There's no date on the slide mount, but the slide is one of a series that were all in the same slide magazine and chronicles my grandparents' 1957 trip to England. More precisely, they returned from England May 7, 1957 (as I recently learned from a Queen Mary passenger list). I can't say for sure if the luggage was placed outside the door for their departure on or arrival from that trip, but the photo must have been taken in late spring 1957.

Also, in my higher-resolution, no JPEG-compression scan (which I did not upload to Shorpy), I can just make out "57" on the license plate--as Dave pointed out. And there are no tab overlays indicating a later-year update.

Finally, the photo cannot be 1962 or later, because (according to my uncle) my grandparents had moved into a house by then.

Thanks for all the interest in this photograph! I have hundreds of slides my grandfather took. If I come across others as good as this one, I'll submit them to Shorpy.

--Jeremy (aka, Quisling P. Rotogravure)

[Thanks for the update on this very popular post. What does the slide mount look like -- does it have a red border? - Dave]

55 Olds

Dave: Now that I think of it, you're right. It was a Super 88, with a very similar paint scheme in green to that blue Buick. Mine was a four door, but the paint's right.

I had a Delta 88 in the 70's, which is probably why I confused the two. Didn't like it half as much.

Ah, memories

My first car was a worn-out '55 Olds Delta 88, which is very similar to that Buick, both in style and tonnage.

Loved that car. Many good memories.

[The first "Delta" 88 was a 1965 model. For 1955, there was the 88 and Super 88. - Dave]

The Short, Short Trailer.

Desi & Lucy wouldn't approve.

Second Year

For the Century, Buick's answer to the Olds Super 88, the principle of placing the big Roadmaster engine in the lighter Special's body. Debuted in 1936 when the Century was the first production car to be able to do 100 MPH, thus the name. Discontinued after 1942 but resumed in 1954 when wartime demand was finally satisfied and people were wanting faster, more powerful cars like the 1949 Olds 88 and 1951 Chrysler Saratoga which placed the brand new New Yorker's Hemi in the six-cylinder Windsor's lighter body.


That's a snappy trailer with a great color scheme, but the Buick is a jaw-dropper.

The two-tone paint jobs of that era were stunning to me then, and still are today. Thanks for sharing such a great photo!


Not to engage in undue nitpicking, but ... umm ... the narrow-stripe whitewalls appearing on the Buick in this photo did not become available until 1962.

[Umm, could you be wrong? It's a 1957 CT license plate. By 1959, Kodak had stopped using red-border slide mounts in favor of a white design. - Dave]

As my late mother would say

It's so small, you have to go outside to change your mind.

A four holer no less

The 1955 Buick 4 door hardtop appears to be a four-holer, which means it was a top of the line Buick.

[Except for the budget-priced Special, all of Buick's models for 1955 (Roadmaster, Century, Super) had four "ventiports." The 1955 Buick Century and Special Rivieras and Oldsmobile 88 and 98 Holiday sedans were GM's first four-door hardtops. - Dave]

Almost perfect

Just needs some Pink Flamingos to complete the scene.


You get to do what you want with that you've earned!


And that, my children, is the reward of frugal living: come home to a trailer, travel abroad. My unmarried uncle, who himself lived in a trailer in Connecticut, worked on sonar systems in submarines at Groton and spent his government earnings equipping his trailer with a Hammond organ (and Leslie unit) and the first color TV I'd ever seen, outfitted with a mast-mounted automatic antenna rotor. Unspeakable luxury, and incredibly cool! My "rich uncle" also had a thing for used Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals, and our neighbors were all abuzz when he came to visit. Proof of a better life through mobile home living!

(Postscript: He died in arrears on both his Florida condo and his last used car, but with a giant smile on his face.)

Everything old ...

And people thought tiny houses were a new phenomenon

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