Trail-Craft Trail-Craft

This is the only documentation of the existence of the Trail-Craft trailer that I know of so far. While surfing a popular auction site recently, I came across a Ford Times magazine with an advertisement for Heilite in it, so I bought it for the site. Along with the write up on the Heilite, there were a few other products advertised, one of which is the Trail-Craft amphibious camp trailer. The Trail-craft sleeps four and is technically a pontoon boat single wheel trailer. While doing a little work searching for more info on the trailer, I was able to find that an Engineer/Inventor, Resta Sullivan Gregoire. He had attempted quite a few different endeavors one of which was the unsuccessful Trail-Craft. In the info I found about Mr. Gregoire, was an entire history write up of his life. Really great read if you have the time. He led a interesting life and was responsible for some great inventions. Below is family tree article I found about Resta. A great read about the life of a single wheel inventor. I'm trying to track down the family to see if I can learn more about Mr. Gregoire and his invention. If you have any info on this trailer, please drop me a line and tell more.
I expanded these pics out of the article I found in the April 1957 Ford Times Magazine. I included the article as it has some good content.
Click Images to enlarge!!!!

Trail-Craft inventor Resta Sullivan GREGOIRE

Resta grew up on his parents' farm, became knowledgeable about planting crops by the moon and stars, and acquired strong feelings for animals. He was skillful and innovative. By the time he died in 1973 he had over 200 patents registered in his name.

At age 17 he was picking cherries when a strong wind blew the ladder he was standing on from under him; he suffered a compound fracture of his right ankle, which eventually healed but left his right leg and foot shorter and smaller than his left. Joy remembers Aunt Bertha Sullivan Eperthaner telling that his wounded leg was kept in a basket and ST-37 was regularly applied to it. She claimed that it would not have healed were it not for this old-fashioned patent medicine.

During his confinement he wrote music, poetry, and song, as well as designed an addition for Victory High School, which family tradition claims were the plans used when the shops were added to the school. He graduated from Victory in 1834, married Edith Flanbigan in 1935, his first of four marriages. It was short lived, with no issue.

When he met Vivian Winemiller in 1938, he was an engineer with Hope Natural Gas Company at Central Station in Doddridge County, WV. They met at the roller skating rink in Nutterfort. Sometime after he met Vivian, but before they were married in January 1940, he met and had a liaison with Dorothy (______) Ware. Dorothy was the wife of West Union attorney Clyde Ware who was serving time in the West Virginia Penitentiary for mismanagement of an estate. On January 23, 1940, Dorothy gave birth to a son whom she named Jack; Resta was his father. Jack was raised by his mother and by others in the West Union community where he grew to adulthood. Jack's existence was unknown to Vivian until 1952 when she and Resta were about to be divorced. It was at this time that Joy Lea and Jene, Resta's and Vivian's children, became acquainted with Jack. They remained in contact with Jack until the late 1960's. He was married to a Wellsville, Ohio, minister's daughter named Barbara; they had one daughter. Jack and Barbara later divorced. He presently resides somewhere in Florida.

Clyde and Dorothy Ware had several children; most of them were raised by Jack Squires of Weston Union. One, Clyde Ware, Jr., became an author and screenwriter. One of his efforts, THE EDEN TREE, is an expose' of life in a small West Virginia town and is said to have been banned in West Union. His movie credits include "No Guns, No Bugles," about Ashby Gattrell and his escape from service in the Civil War by hiding in Gattrell's Cave in Doddridge County; Martin Sheen starred in the "B" movie. His television credits include several scripts for "Gunsmoke."

Resta and Vivian went to housekeeping in West Union where they lived when Joy Lea was born; shortly thereafter, they moved to nearby Central Station. Resta did not have an engineering degree, but his work for Hope, Allis- Chalmers, and the Ford Motor Company during these years resulted in his being hired early in 1943 by the U.S. Navy to teach engineering to sailors at their school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was exempt from service because of his leg injury.

He had been working on the development of an oil seal with Ford Motor Company, which the company wanted to buy, but Resta refused because he didn't want to "sell his mind to anybody." Twenty years later the patent was renewed by someone else and sold to Ford.

Resta's brother Bud, with his wife Millie and son Wayne, joined the family in Michigan and soon the brothers turned to another venture. Millie Gregoire, after coping with traveling with a new baby, suggested that Resta invent a way to heat a baby-bottle that could be taken in the car and did not require the use of the big stove at home. Resta and Bud developed and patented a baby bottle warmer that could be plugged into the circuit at home, or with an adapter for the cigarette lighter, could be used in the car. The warmer was also ideal for outdoorsmen and travelers to heat their food when away from home.

The war ended and the families moved to Clarksburg, WV, in April 1947 to manufacture the bottle warmer. George Gregoire agreed to help his sons with their project, and the manufacturing plant called "The House of Resta" was started; their product "Travel-R-Home" baby bottle warmers were sold to stores nationwide. Eventually baby night lights and music boxes were also produced. The idea was a success and the business provided a good income for many years for the Gregoire clan. At one time the plant employed five people, plus the family. They stayed in business for about 13 years, closing in 1960. During this time Resta also became involved in other ventures: a furniture store in Weston (which didn't last long); two different chicken farms - one at Duck Creek and one in Sardis District, Harrison County - where he raised broilers and supplied restaurants for their Chicken-in-a-basket dinners (about two years); and a farm to raise pigs and horses near West Milford, which failed within a year.

It was during the Duck Creek farming days in 1950 that Resta fathered another out-of-wedlock child who was named George. As you can guess, Resta's and Vivian's marriage was not going well. They divorced in November 1952. Vivian sent her children to live with her parents, Nick and Denna Winemiller, in Weston while she worked for Maiden Form; the children came back to live with her in September 1953. Resta went to Chicago and worked for a short period of time before returning to Clarksburg.

By summer 1954 he was courting Vivian again, but ended up marrying Lelah Crites, d/o Major Crites of Hepzibah, Harrison County, that fall. Resta's "whirling mind" was never at rest. He invented a boat that could go on land or water and could serve as a camper for hunters and fishermen. He called it "Trailcraft." After numerous attempts to manufacture in plants in Clarksburg and Philippi, he went "belly up" - again. During this time, he built a home at Country Club Addition outside of Clarksburg where he and Lelah lived when their son, Philip George, was born in January 1956. The next year, Resta, Lelah and Philip moved to Philippi.

When the Trailcraft business failed, Resta took his wife and son to Washington, D. C., where he tried to make a success with other engineering efforts. Marital problems developed, Lelah was expecting another child and the couple separated. Lelah went to Canton, Ohio; and Phil remained with his father.

Lelah gave birth to Don in 1962. Shortly after his birth, she returned to Clarksburg and took Phil back to Canton with her. Resta never saw his son again and the couple eventually divorced.

After unsuccessful excursions in other business ventures, including an effort to manufacture log homes (in those days they were a "new" idea), Resta went back to Washington. About this time, he gave aid and assistance to his daughter, Joy Lea, by providing a home after her failed first marriage. Joy believes that she was closer to her father during this period than at any time before or after.

Sue (Presseau) Patterson of Clarksburg joined Resta in Washington. Their son, Resta Sullivan "Greg" Gregoire II was born there in 1962. Resta began to have some success in his business ventures. He designed a free-standing aluminum building to be used as a storage shed, and sold the idea to Capitol Aluminum Products in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; then, he contracted with them to design the roll-forming machine to manufacture the product. He developed several more ideas, independently and in conjunction with Capitol Products, and had over 200 patents registered in his name at his death. However, his family received no income from any of his ideas and patents because he had inadvertently tied them to a business deal with his patent attorney.

Resta, Sue and Greg moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where Sue gave birth to twin girls, Pammy and Tammy, in October 1963. Each child weighed just over a pound. Pammy died when she was ten days old; discoveries made from her death helped save the life of Tammy who required several blood transfusions. On Mother's Day 1967, Resta and Sue were married. Their last child, David, was born in April 10, 1970.

Resta suffered poor health of cholesterol and heart problems for many years. His last years were spent gardening, and he talked of returning to farming, but he died of a major coronary while mowing his yard in September 1973.

Joy's notes: Dad always had a desire for some of his sons to join the Navy, preferably via Annapolis. Why? Perhaps because he had taught those midshipmen so many years ago. He "pulled strings" and son Jene was offered an opportunity to go to the Academy; but Jene didn't feel he was Navy material. Phil joined the Navy right out of high school and has worked his way up - the hard way. Now, Phil's daughter and Resta's granddaughter, Michele, is Annapolis bound. How proud her grandfather would have been! It took me many years to understand my father. He had an appreciation for beautiful women, which resulted in several affairs and four marriages. He fathered ten children, and also claimed those who were born out of wedlock. He was not always close to his children and he did not always support them; but, some benefited from payments from his Social Security after he died.

He had a special way about him and we cared for him, although we did not always approve of his actions. Regardless - he was our father. Knowing him - and carrying his genes - makes each of us, brothers and sister, what we are today. For that we can thank him.

However, this is not to take anything from our mothers. All were very special women - they were all beautiful, they were all talented, and they all struggled to raise each and every one of us. For that we can thank them.