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.


14 thoughts on “The Lap of Luxury”

  1. I have gon back to a few places I remember from childhood. They always seems so much bigger then.

    We vacationed on a farm in Virginia when I was growing up. We were given chores, but it was fun, as it was things we never had an opportunity to do at home. The farm was split up so they could build a dam, and then the remaining portion was sold several years later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can so relate to this story. I had relatives via a past marriage who lived down in Southern California toward but not in San Diego. They owned a huge acreage and had the most unique home, made in the 30s out of leftovers from sawmills (the outside “log” slice that looked like a log and was generally ground up and used as mulch, or perhaps disposed of) and construction site leftovers. It was the most unique place I ever saw and I have seen some truly eccentric and amazing places. There was not a single 90 degree corner in the whole place, the two-story home was entirely covered with these “logs,” and it had things like fake balconies on the 2nd floor wall, and all sorts of truly wonderful things. I know a lot of the land got sold off, and I am not sure about the home itself because people don’t respect things like uniqueness in old homes anymore. Anyway, I can sure relate to your story. I live in a mobile home park out of necessity, and I wonder what wonderful things were here before they built this. Thank you for sharing that story. It sure was a great read.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. In the year before my first marriage fell apart, we lived in a mobile home in a MHP. It was about 5 years old but I loved it because it was big to me! The bathroom was big as was the eat-in kitchen. The 2 bedrooms and long hallway and living room added to the spacious.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. The same thing happened here with a lot of the horse farms. The land got subdivided and there are now enormous houses on lots smaller than mine. There was a veterinarian who cared for horses who had about three acres; he sold his land off and now it’s all senior housing. The reality is that they can’t afford the property taxes…. It’s a shame, but that’s progress for you…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When my mother’s family moved to Indiana in the 60s, they bought a mobile home in a small park. (Maybe 30 lots.) My grandmother had four teenagers in that trailer! She lived there until 1993 and then went to assisted living, which was smaller, but fewer bigger rooms, and it seemed strange to see her things/life assembled in such a space. Formica kitchen table. Chairs with huge rectangular arms. I bet you understand.
    When we returned home to Indiana in 2013, they were all gone. No sign of that trailer park. Like it was never there. It’s just a meadow. It’s lovely, but also, eerie for what it was, ya know?

    I like how you share these seemingly random things and trigger memories for me. Evocative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joey, I understand exactly what you mean. I tend to be very nostalgic in my memories and the loss of those places and spaces make telling the stories even more important. I often sit and wonder what my ancestors must have felt when they came into this area, untouched by telephone poles and paved roads. Must have been overwhelming. I am glad you get something out of what I share. That’s some of the reason we do this blog thing, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When Joe ( my current and second husband) dated in our early years, we visited a brand new community of small manufactured homes. It was like a doll house and I was immediately in love and wanting to marry and buy one. I think I was about 18! Ah, romance! None of it happened at that time, but I still smile about that cute place!!
    Thanks for always posting great stories that sometimes actually create similar, long forgotten memories.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.