John (“Jack”, “Canner”) W. Culp died peacefully in his sleep Monday, October 14, 2013 in Clermont, FL. He was a young 87. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marguerite and his son, Denis. Jack is survived by two grandchildren, Jonathan and Jessica Culp, and 1st cousin, Sarah Anne Whipple Paton. He was born and raised in Medina, OH, the only child of John and Helen Whipple Culp. He attended school in Medina, and especially loved playing the sousaphone in the Medina HS band. World War I had broken out, so soon after graduation, Jack was drafted, picked the Navy, and was stationed on the island of Samar in the Philippines. (His first cousin, Sarah Anne Whipple Paton, was stationed on the nearby island of Leyte, and Jack paid her several surprise visits. These stories of hometown cousins hooking up in faraway war time places were reported in the Medina Gazette back in 1945.) Jack arrived in the Philippines Islands “not knowing a battleship from a cruiser.” He would often tell the story that when the enemy heard he was there, they ended the war in just three months. After the war, Jack returned to Medina and took up plumbing working in his father’s business and eventually taking on the business as his own. Jack was a tall man, well over 6 feet tall, so he joined the Skyscrapers Club in Cleveland (members had to be 6 ft. or more) and here he met his wife to be, Marguerite. When the two married, Jack adopted Marguerite’s son, Denis.
Jack’s passion lay in travelling, and it seemed he was born to this lifestyle. His parents loved to trailer, adopting the lifestyle of working in Ohio resorts in the summer and wintering in Florida. Jack and Marguerite continued travelling in the 1947 Westcraft trailer, that Jack had inherited from his mother. Marguerite added her designer’s touch to the interior. During this time, he and his wife set up the “Culp Country Cupboard” in Chippewa Lake and were “snow birds” in winter. Eventually, they moved to Venice, Florida after retirement but continued to spend their summers around Medina and Chippewa Lake.
John recalls his fondest trailer memories as the Route 40, Historic Road Caravan, and a five-month, cross-country trip he made with his mother in 1951 in the Westcraft. The trip took them through California on old Route 66, through New Mexico, Texas, New Orleans, Florida, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, and back to Ohio.
Jack was a proud, long time member of the Tin Can Tourists of the World, & was inducted into their Hall of Fame. He donated his 1947 Westcraft to the RV Museum & Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. Jack referred to himself as a man of the road with the motto of always trying to live by the Golden Rule. He led an exceptional life—was a great story-teller, never met a stranger, was loyal to family and friends, & his warm grin & easy nature will be greatly missed by family & all those who called him friend.
From Forrest Bone - TCT Club President
Tin Can Tourists has lost a true trailerite and TCT Hall of Fame member. Canner Culp peacefully passed away on Monday, October 14th. John had been in declining health since last spring and spent his last days at a rehabilitation center in Clermont Florida.
Jeri and I first met John at the 2000 Florida RV SuperShow. He rolled in to the TCT winter reunion in his 1982 Lincoln towing his beloved 1947 Westcraft. John notified me immediately that the gathering of the Tin Can Tourists should not be referred to as a “winter reunion” but the Winter Convention as had been the case since the 1920’s. The winter of 2000 marked the beginning of a ten year span in which John journeyed to Ohio to be able to attend both the Annual Gathering and Fall Gathering at Camp Dearborn – Milford Michigan. The Fall Gathering marked his return to Florida and attendance at all TCT events held during the winter.
In the movie The Long, Long Trailer a man asks Desi Arnaz, “Are you a Trailerite?” meaning do you live and travel in a trailer. John was one of the last of the true trailerites. He lived and traveled in his Westcraft seeing America as the spirit moved him. He was once asked where he was going after the Annual Gathering. His reply was that as he exited the campground his turn would be determined by the traffic. If it was open to the right, he would travel west, if clear to the left, he would head east.
John got the spirit in Ohio from his parents, who first took him camping when he was nine months old, in 1926. In the 30’s the Culp’ took to the road in a homemade trailer built by a local carpenter. In 1942 they moved up to an American Coach, later trading it in for his beloved ’47 Westcraft. His Westcraft is prominently displayed at the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana, fulfilling John’s wishes. One of John’s travel advice gems was that you have to be able to take the time to get to know people. “Once they realize you’re not a regular tourist – rushing through town, and perhaps through life, they’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
We were extremely fortunate to have known John and will think of him often as we travel and attend TCT events.
John Culp was one of the truest - most humble - people it's been my pleasure to meet. I feel so very fortunate that I was able to meet with and camp alongside John at Cedar Key, for my first-ever TCT gathering. He was so inviting and welcoming to a newbie like me. I loved the time I got to spend with him. He let me in to see his home, and I will never forget the experience.
One of the reasons I included John's Westcraft in the painting I was commissioned to do for you all … It sits in the background, alongside your old Spartanette, proudly displaying the American flag.
Doreen Bailey-Bergman Today we lost a Legend and the Oldest Original TCT member. John “Canner” Culp. May he rest in Trailer Heaven. we will miss you John and all your trailer stories and adventures. Have a Libation in John's memory tonight to honor him. — at Camp Dearborn. Today we lost a Legend and the Oldest Original TCT member today. John “Canner” Culp. May he rest in Trailer Heaven. we will miss you John and all your trailer stories and adventures.
Norman Westerman - a great person will be missed
Cindee Teegardin Ladge - My respects to you and your life. Rest in peace.
Sharon Cuyler - Love you John ….
Teresa Taylor Barnes - RIP John…
Terry Evans - A travelin man. .lived in his moms trailer lol…libations all around…we need a limerick to go with the libation
Elena Falcon - Much Love to John and his family…..No doubt he is “trailering on” in Heaven…..
Gary Sally Lodholm - We will miss his calls.
Terry Bone - His trailer will remain at the RV/MH museum for all to see. I really like John - always a story to share and smile. He pulled me into his trailer one rally and reminded me of the responsibility I had to this club and how important it was to him and my parents. That is the kind of man he was. Not just thinking about today but thinking about the future generations of TCTers. My dad would offer him the honor of opening the TCT rallies because of his status in the club. I'll be having a libation in his honor tonight.
Terry Bone - I think this TCT used poem from back in the day is appropriate for the libation today: The little lamp of friendship, We light along the way. Go shining on far down the years and brighten everyday. “Tis love that keeps them shining And sympathy and trust.” God help us that no lamp go out Because we let it rust.
Craig Leach - I'll miss you John, I will raise a tall libation to a bigger than life man!! AHH, the stories there'll be in heaven! Peace be with you my friend.
Kim McCool - Cheers John!!
Baron Teri Saint-Starlite - RIP John…“Riding along with trailer, Happy as can be, no rent to pay, no landlords, NO SIREE. On I go with trailer, a heavenly campground now to find, Sorry I have to leave you all behind” Slightly reworded quote from the “Tin Can Tourists Movie” (1937) Here's to you..clink clink
Marilyn Brandfass - Buon Viaggio John
Gary Lamoree - Happy Trails Buddy! I was always cherish and remember sitting in your coach and chatting in Clermont!
Donna Mahoney Frederick - I had the privilege of setting next to John at Sonnys BBQ at a rally after Ceder Key. A very interesting and a remember kind of guy. God Bless you John and since you are there now, take my son camping.
Alexander Kensington - This is a very sad day. RIP Joh Canner Culp. Thanks you for the wonderful tales and jackpots. And thanks for being the connection to a glorious past and fabulous future. I lift a toast of pickle juice to you. I shall remember your advise and never let my hitch get rusty–
Mark Speiser - God speed Canner Culp. Cheers.
Tim Heintz - John will be greatly missed. He would always tell me, we were both the old time traveling TCT bachelors One of his (and mine as well) favorite poems about traveling the Bachelor life in an old trailer. (from the 1930's)
Rick Myer - Bro John always called me “the Reverend”. It was our little secret. Rest and enjoy, George has been waiting.
Karen Wilsen Leonetti - John was a legend, truly. Happy trails ahead for him! Karen & Danny
Lynn Paton - Every time you view the sun setting, my cousin Jack will be there with you! Toast him with me. Here's to you Jack!
Ann Carefoot Gingrich - Have a few things to lift a libation for tonight. I will add John.
MySpyder Web - RIP John, my sympathies to those that loved him
Carrie Drake - Met him in Florida, loved listening to his stories.
Lily Bettina Zaga - aw?! RIP…..
Jennifer Dempsey - He sounds like a fine man. Thank you for your sharing your memories and tributes for those of us who did not have the pleasure of knowing him.
Sally Patton - sorry for the loss to his family, friends and TCT community.
Evelyn Bruce Filiault - We will all miss John. Loved listening to his stories.
Alan Wickham - I had the pleasure of meeting John about 20 years ago. Very nice man. RIP
Terry Bone - John finding the TCT was as much of a benefit to him as it was to us. He found a group late in life that he could really engaged with and was a benefit to the quality of his life. In turn, he made such a wonderful impact to everyone he met. Truly a mutually beneficial relationship.
Slim Redbud - What a nice man!
Barbara Heizman - Lucky you who knew him.I'm sure there's a special place for him in Heaven,and it involves a few wheels,too!
Joyce Paton -This gentle giant of a man with the big friendly grin and homespun way of telling a tale will be a huge part of my memories forever. I believe I learned something about independence and living life as I see best from him. I will miss you cousin Jack.
Terry Fleming - Our thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends, Rest In Peace.
Albert Bailitz - Had the pleasure listening and chatting at a couple rallies in Milford, thanks John. Special thanks to Forrest, Jerri, Terry and Michelle for keeping it going. I try to talk to as many folks as possible at rallies, everyone has stories to tell helps keep the group closer. So here's to John, all the friends I met and all the friends I have yet to meet CHEERS! !!!
Candy Heintz - It was a dark day yesterday in the Heintz household. Love you John, the 'young' TCT bachelor misses you already.
Don Boehme - I was very sad to hear about John passing. He was one of a kind. When I talk about John, it's always with a smile. He sure made my life richer for knowing him. He will be missed.
John and Carol Dinning = We were so sorry to hear of John's passing. We enjoyed listening to his stores, about his upbringing in Ohio, his days in the Navy, his family, and his days on the road travelling from place to place in the country. Sitting around the campfire with John was like sitting with family. He would talk about travelling, hard times and good times of growing up. You very seldom ever heard the same story twice. He had a great deep laugh that will be missed by a lot of people. Forrest's picture of John on the TCT commentary was and always will be in our mind John “Canner” Culp. We will miss you John. Rest in Peace.
I don’t recall having any specific ambition as a child. Actually, my childhood was interrupted by WW II, so my ambition became to survive the draft and service without getting myself killed!!
In early 1944, I was drafted, but was fortunate to be able to pick the navy and after much training, many transfers and delays, I arrived in the Philippines Islands not knowing a battleship from a cruiser. The war ended three months after my arrival.
My parents had started buying up summer cottages at a resort in Ohio and I got the idea that seasonal works would allow wintering in Florida. For the rest of 1945 and early ’46, while waiting discharge, I mulled over the plan for seasonal work. My parents had already bought a 1942 American trailer and were wintering in Dunedin, Florida, so after discharge, I worked at the resort during the summers and snow birded in the winter.
That’s how I became trailer trash.
My fondest trailer related memory us without a doubt the Route 40, Historic Road Caravan. Prior to that it would have been a five month 1951 trip I made with my mother in my 1947 Westcraft (still own and use). The trip extended to California on old Route 66 and back through New Mexico, Texas, New Orleans, Florida, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania and on in to Ohio.
My proudest moment is being inducted in to the TCT Hall of Fame. A close second would be that motorcade through Indianapolis during the Historic National Road Caravan.
The biggest challenge I face is being able to hook it up and keeping the ’47 Westcraft on the road.
My perfect day is a sunny day that gets me on the road by nine and off by three, making 200 miles or less and capping the day off with a good libation.
John’s answer to what was his first adult job, was that he wasn’t sure he had achieved adulthood yet and at 81 he was still “career disturbed” and looking.
John’s favorite trailer related book is Galloping Bungalows by David Thornburg.
John has gained inspiration from reading Thornburg’s story of early canners; attend the TCT convention in 1947 and being accepted as a member in 2000 to the renewed version of TCT. The group has become an extended family. He stated he really enjoys welcoming new members and seeing their enthusiasm.
When asked what the best tow vehicle, he owned, was, he replied that it was a 1951 Chevy Suburban, four speed ordered special from the factory for $1925.
John has been a great resource for the TCT . We cherish his friendship and wish him many more 200 mile days.
Eighty-two-year-old John “Canner” Culp long ago christened the 25-year-old van he uses to haul his vintage mobile home around the country “Darling Clementine.”
Interestingly enough, he never did quite get around to naming the 1947 Westcraft that his “Darling Clementine” has faithfully pulled behind her for so many years – an aluminum-sided, time-weathered vehicle he purchased new 60 years ago – for $3,200.
No, Culp never did get around to naming that old rig of his. But ever since his beloved wife passed away 10 years ago, that hasn’t been much of a problem.
These days, much as it was when he first married his departed sweetheart a half-century ago, he simply calls it “home.”
“We lived in it for a few months when we were first married in 1957, but that didn’t last too long,” Culp fondly remembered as he sat on a plastic green lawn chair outside his aged rig at the Vintage RV Show at Koreshan State Park in Estero on Saturday. “She said she wanted to live in a house – needed to live in a house – so that’s what I got her.
“But when I lost her, I decided to move back in.”
Culp, a retired plumber originally from Medina, Ohio, first came to Florida in 1970. He said he never did make enough money to move back to the Buckeye State, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Even if I won the lottery, I wouldn’t give it up,” Culp said. “When I first bought it back in 1947, I actually paid a premium of $1,000 to get the aluminum siding. The old-timers told me I was wasting my money – said the rivets would probably pop out while I was driving down the road.
“Well, here I am 60 years later and still going strong.”
If you think you’ve been inconvenienced by the seemingly never-ending construction on Florida roadways, maybe you should try spending a full two months of the year on the road like Culp does.
“I’ll never understand it,” said a clearly bemused Culp, who splits the remaining 10 months of the year between Florida, Ohio and Michigan when he’s not on the road. “During World War II, an airfield could be shot all to hell and the Seabees would get in there and build a new one in about a week … So why the heck can’t they fix the roads in Florida in under a year?”
Sadly, the venerated patriarch of Florida RV road-warriors is unsure how much longer he will be able to keep on keeping on.
“The biggest problem is that my income remains static while at the same time the fuel prices just keep going up,” he said. “I’m going to keep going as long as I feel good, as long as I can hook my rig up and as long as I have enough money to be out on the road, but who knows how long that will be?’’
Culp’s only son passed away in 1999. Coupled with the loss of his wife in 1997, one might think that would make him a lonely man.
Not even close, he said.
“The ‘tin-canners’ are my family now,” Culp said, referring to the nickname given to traveling mobile-home enthusiasts. “Them, and the people that I meet on the road – they’re my family.’’
Family. Such a vital part of the “tin-canner” experience.
Jeff Gedral’s 1978 GMC Eleganza has been an integral part of his own family for the past 16 years.
“It started out as a father-son thing for me and my dad, and now it’s a father-son thing for me and my own son,” the Fort Myers resident said as his mop-topped 13-year-old, Jefferson, hovered nearby. “It’s just a great way to spend quality time together.”
Koreshan State Park Manager Bob Baker, a 30-year parks veteran who lives on the grounds with his wife, Betsy, hopes the Vintage RV Show, which is celebrating its first year in Estero, will grow in popularity in future years.
“Our goal is to have it become a nationally advertised event within the next 10 years,” Baker said.
About 1,000 people attended Saturday’s Vintage RV Show.
“For the first year, I’m pretty happy with that number,” Baker said.
Pictures of John from Doug Keister:
Video of John's trailer at the RV/MH Museum https://youtu.be/vMbf-xmIMgw