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It looks like I will be getting my new home. I will probably move in around the middle of July, maybe even sooner. I do not have a move-out date yet but figure about the beginning of June.

My new home will be a 20' wide mobile home. A "doublewide".

I do a lot of reading. The term "doublewide" in the fiction I read is reserved for "white trash" in this country. When you read of someone buying a new doublewide you can expect that the next sentence will describe this person as a female - almost always - who is overweight - so far I'm batting two for two here - and who spends a lot of time on the couch munching on snack foods. Well, I do some munching on the couch. Typically she does not work - oh heavens, there I am again - and gets her check on the first of the month. So do I. Only mine is a retirement check, not a welfare check. I have to admit that I think we get a bad rap in fiction.

I have lived in this park for about 22 years. There are single-wides and double-wides here, and I have met several of the people who have lived here over the years. Some of them have matched that description in some respects, not in others. Very few, though. This particular park has more than its share of single moms, with good reason: it is difficult to find any other form of housing single moms can afford, and most of the other mobile home parks in this city are "age-restricted". There are also many families with young children and two parents. Again, they can afford to live here. I believe most of the people in this park have jobs. I used to have a job and I would join the small stream of cars leaving in the morning and returning in the late afternoon or evening. Some take the bus.

I like to joke about being trailer trash. In some ways I certainly am. The condition of my home and yard, f'rinstance, screams "Nobody loves me!". That is, nobody loves my home or my yard, obviously including me. My furniture is Goodwill fodder, with few pieces relating in any way to any others. It was many years before I realized I did not have to buy used furniture all the time and I certainly did not have to "make do", using furniture for purposes for which it was not designed. Yeah, they call this "repurposing" now. I repurposed with a vengeance for many years, but now I eschew that practice.

When I tell people I am getting a new house and explain what I mean by that - taking out the old, putting in the new - they are intrigued, a little, but I swear it puts them off, too. They see me differently when they discover that I live in one of those "trailers". Somehow I slip a notch.

Living in a mobile home park that is owned by someone else is one of the worst living situations in some ways. We tenants have no say on who manages the park. We have no control over maintenance of the park. If we get a manager we do not like we can't just leave. We either have to sell our home or take it with us (which is expensive). Once in, it can be hard to get out. My experience in trying to replace my home is just one example of how hard. If I were selling my own home on my own lot I would not have had to deal with a management company that failed to act for over four months. I would not have had to struggle to find a lender (most lenders don't like mobile homes). If I were looking for a new house I would have a huge choice of realtors rather than a choice between two mobilehome sales companies, one of which doesn't deal with loans.

There are pluses as well. When you own your own home in a park the management never comes inside your home. You can do whatever you like in there. Rip out walls, if you want. You own what's inside but not what's outside - including the utilities. If the electric meter goes bad the park replaces it. Presumably the park takes care of your driveway, too (not very well in my case). The park provides various amenities - in my case a swimming pool, clubhouse, and park. When my children were little I loved having that clubhouse. It meant birthday parties without having to clean up my house or make space for a mob. The pool and park meant the girls could go play and swim easily with their friends. People often have meetings in the clubhouse and a while back an aerobics teacher led classes there.

There are also some interesting aspects of living in a park. We're close to each other yet separate. We can get to know our neighbors or not. I have gotten to know neighbors on both sides and that has meant some convenience for me. Sharing rides, watching cats, that kind of thing. I have learned that I can live this close. I don't have to be a hermit. I have also learned that people are inventive and make things work. People who live here tend not to be rich. So you'll see a community Thanksgiving in the clubhouse or a Santa visit or a Halloween party. People find interesting ways to make little private outdoor spaces, on their porches or in back yards. It doesn't take a lot. I love seeing the ways people get around a lack of space or money and do it gracefully, without complaint. After all, nobody else here is in much of a better situation. I think it's a good example of adaptation. Within our little community we are all similar enough that there is little room for envy. 

There certainly is room for gossip. When my children were young and living here they knew the "alternative park". Or maybe I should say "Underground". They knew who was doing what with whom and why. They knew whose dad was in prison and who was about to move out. The knew the condition, inside, of most homes. The children here, you can bet on it, always know more than the adults. Except, maybe, our gossipy manager. I am always hearing about my own lot, my own plans, from others who have been speaking to the manager. Sometimes they know stuff before I do.

These parks are more interesting and more varied than you'll find in fiction. It's a handy device - mention "doublewide" and just about anyone will know what's coming. Too bad that it isn't all that accurate.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 12th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
I grew up in rural PA............ we had lots of trailer parks - some of them really very nice. I never heard the words trailer trash till I was out of highschool and didn't understand it. I went to school and church with people who lived in mobile homes - that's what they called them back then. My sister lived in one in the Mountains that had additions on it - it was beautiful. So, I am very happy for you. You will feel good in your new home.

It is basically a modular home........ call it that!
May. 12th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
I was obviously rambling in thist post, not sure where I was headed. I just had thoughts about how every time I read "she lived in a doublewide" I knew what was going to come after.

I don't call my home a trailer, usually. And I certainly don't call it a "coach", which some do. I call it a mobile home, which is fine with me. I suspect that if I said "manufactured home" people would think it's better than it is! However, my new one will be nicer and I just might use that term.

There is just a lot of prejudice around, no matter what.
May. 13th, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
This is for you: http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Trailer-Trash-Posters_i846896_.htm

I was raised (off and on) in a trailer and my sister lives in one to this day. She has completely embraced the term "trailer trash" (though is not trashy in the least). That image comes from a pulp novel. I think the title is "Trailer Trash: She went from town to town, man to man." LOVE IT.

Do you have a "God Bless My Mobile Home." wall plaque? http://cgi.ebay.com/God-bless-our-mobile-home-Fla-plate_W0QQitemZ180115135369QQihZ008QQcategoryZ66514QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem (sorry, only good image was on Ebay)

The only time I didn't like being in a trailer was when my sister lived in one that was parked on a hill. It wasn't leveled particulary well, so when you tried to have a dance party in the living room, you felt like you were going to pitch out the window.

I envy my sister's life. Because she lives in a trailer (which was inexpensive and now paid off) she only has to pay her lot rent (which is cheap) and the bills she makes every month. She's completely debt free. (I can't wait to pay of my mortgage and student loans).
May. 13th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
I bid on the plate...but I'm not sure how high I'll go. It's lovely. The poster is sold out!

I do like the term "trailer trash" and in fact started a website called Trailer Trash Style. I haven't done much with it. I still think it could be a winner.

My house slants also, but probably not as much as your sister's hillside home did. There is no room to dance so I haven't tested that theory. I had a guy come in a while back and he said it slants about a half inch from one side to the other, which is why some things leak and there is precious little to be done about it. Fixing that slope would cost way more than this home is worth.

I think I should document some things about the home. What makes it so special. Like the slope and the hole in the bedroom floor and the plywood around the toilet and...
May. 14th, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)
Do you have a Hankey Mountain?

My sister's trailer has a little cement mound where the toilet pipe comes from the trailer and empties into the main sewer. One time the main sewer line was plugged by tree roots (there's a large tree right next to Hankey Mountain) causing a back up. That's when the cement mound was dubbed Hankey Mountain.

May. 14th, 2007 01:15 pm (UTC)
Not exactly but I think what I've got may qualify as close. I've got to start taking pix before it's too late!
May. 14th, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
Darn. I have to keep logged in here. I keep clearing cookies and temporary files and discovering that I cleared this one. Then I forget that I am not logged in.
May. 15th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
Woohoo!! I won the "God bless our mobile home" plate from ebay!! It can be the first thing I put into my new home when I get it!!! Thanks for the find!
May. 15th, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC)
*cheers* Awesome. Now you need a pink flamingo for your yard!
May. 15th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I do I do. I am sure I can track one down.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Lautner
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