How the Travato got its name

Susan WattersOur Town Adventure Seekers

In the beginning, God created the wheel and it was good. God named the wheel Steering and then got distracted with other more important creations and forgot about him.

Fast forward a million years and we find Steering thinking about having children and looking for a mate. He quickly gave up because he only had public parts and could not reproduce.

Tired of going around in circles, he started looking for a purpose, some way he could make a difference in the world. He happened to roll through Forest City, Iowa, one summer day and saw a sign that said Winnebago. Actually, he thought it said “Win a Bag, Oh!” and since he’d never owned a Bag, he stopped at the parts department to pick one up.

The parts manager said they didn’t have bags, but Steering could go talk to the sales department and they might be able to help. He said “Take the stairs over there, the sales department is on the third floor.” Steering had no idea what a third floor was, or for that matter, what a first or second floor was. Then there was the issue of the stairs. He tried to roll UP the stairs. Gravity just laughed at him.

Dejected, Steering started rolling toward the door. All of a sudden, a hand reached out and snatched him up and he heard a shout of “OMG, this is perfect!” Next thing he knew, a technician attached him to the front of a granite-colored ProMaster van with a funny name – Tomato.

Steering was ecstatic! He had purpose. He had found a home. He proudly steered that Tomato off the production line and soon ended up at an RV dealer’s lot. Many people came and admired the Tomato, but no one wanted to purchase it. Steering was perplexed.

He knew the Tomato was the most beautiful, functional and fun van anyone could hope to own and he wanted more than anything to find an owner to love it. After much thought (or as much thought as a steering wheel can generate) he decided the name Tomato was why people were not buying the van.

He pondered other names like Banana or Artichoke or Jack Daniels, but those names were already taken, so Steering texted Winnebago requesting a name change for the van. He suggested “Traveling Tomato.” The marketing department personnel put their pointy heads together and combined the two names. Hence, the Travato was born.

Steering is out there somewhere cruising the United States. He might be in Texas or New Hampshire. Could be in Florida or Oregon or on his way to Alaska. So, every time you see a Winnebago Travato, give a big wave to Steering. After all, if it weren’t for him, we might be driving a Tomato with the sticker on our back windows showing a picture of a chef’s salad with the words “Tomato Nation.”

And, of course, we wouldn’t be having near as much fun as we are with our Travatos.

Editor’s Note: Susan Watters is back, at least for this article. She popped in a few years back writing “Fit & Fifty,” a column about weight loss, biking and other assorted adventures. Sue probably killed off several 50-year-olds who tried to match her. She settled quietly into a condo in Florida, after living on a sailboat for a year or so, and then one day she posted online that she could not sit in a gated community waiting to die. “I’d rather be eaten by a bear.” She sold that condo, at the market’s peak, of course, and bought a Travato – an RV van manufactured by Winnebago.


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