Blog

The Lap of Luxury

Day 216

As I drove home yesterday. I passed a lot of manufactured homes. It brought back some memories I had not thought of in quite some time.

My maternal grandparents lived on a farm in rural Virginia. We had a lot of freedom there. We also had responsibility. When we were older, my grandmother woke us early to help with the garden. After the morning chores were done, we could roam freely around the farm and even walk to the store that was a mile up the road.

Ben Schumin, Howard Johnson’s on Afton Mountain, 2003 closeup, CC BY-SA 3.0

I had three siblings and we stayed with my grandmother one summer for several weeks. My siblings all worked part-time at Howard Johnson’s (HoJo’s) but being the baby of the family, I was too young to work.

I helped Granny in the garden, stringing beans, or shucking corn — whatever needed to be done. After that I was free to roam pretty much at will.

As farm land was sold out, the highway in front of the farm became rather commercial and busy with traffic. I remember darting across the highway to the gas station to get a bottle of pop out of one of the older vending machines. It was a Coca Cola machine with bottled soft drinks lined up vertically behind a narrow glass door. You would put your dime in (yes, it was a dime), open the door and pull out a bottle which would immediately be replaced by a new bottle. It was ice cold!

That summer a mobile home sales park appeared down the road from the farm. I loved going there and exploring all the mobile homes. I can remember that feeling of opening the door and seeing a small wrought iron rail separating the entrance from the living area. There was wall paper and carpet and beautiful furniture. The bathrooms were big with big tubs and showers and there were two bathrooms! The beds seemed huge to me (we slept in either a single bed (a cross between and twin and a double) or twin beds. Every mobile home was different and the floor plans differed as did the furniture, drapes and the artwork (yes they had artwork). I felt this was the height of luxury.

Fast forward 30 years when I lived in a mobile home in Alaska, there was no luxury involved. My clothes often froze to the walls of the closet because of lack of insulation in the walls. Funny how our perspective gets realigned with a touch of reality.

My grandparent’s farm was sold and a huge housing subdivision now takes its place. The rolling hills of the farm are still there, but the land that one family once owned is now home to 75 other families. I guess that might be progress, but for me, it is hard to see.