I'm Not Trailer Trash - I Just Lived in One (or how I came to be a magnificent obsession)

I went to college in a small town that doubled in size when school was in session. I loved that town and the University. After a couple years of living in the dorms (which I recommend to all in-coming college Freshman) I moved to off-campus housing. I didn't do the Sorority route, so in this small town where trailer parks were the norm it was common for students to rent trailers. I lived in two during my stay there, both owned by the same person.

The first trailer was a quaint little place - tiny really. Snug, I call it. It was very vintage with a small little 50's fridge and happy, pin-stripe primary colored wall paper in the kitchenette area. I had to walk through a room that had purple shag carpet in it to get to my tiny bedroom.  It was a cold little place, I had to use a space heater often. I really didn't know how cold it was until one winter day after staying overnight at a friend's house, I came home  to find a miniature snow drift in my little living room; to this day I'm still stumped at how the snow got in there, because I didn't find anything open. I probably didn't look too hard in my naive, college student frame of mind.

Other weird things happened in  that trailer -to the point where I thought it was may be haunted. One night I heard someone walking around my trailer in the snow. It would crunch under the feet, but the next day - no prints in the snow. Nothing. Ugh... Or knocking on the outside wall at night. Drove me nuts.

Several months later, I had to bring my dog to school with me, therefore I had to move because my trailer park didn't allow animals. The person who owned that cute little trailer had another one available - one block over. It was bigger and it didn't snow inside the living room! I loved my larger (but not too much) bedroom, it felt like a cruise ship cabin. Wood paneling all around with built-ins. I loved my kitchen too, it was big and roomy and I laid down carpet in it to keep it warmer on my toes in the winter.


I came home one day to find my dog gone. After a long, stressful search throughout the small town, I found her at the Pound. As I relayed the story to a friend a few days later she said, "maybe she got out through the hole in the window where the air conditioner fell out?"


I have an air conditioner??

Apparently, behind the large, dark-orange ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall curtains was a window air conditioner that fell out one day when I was in class. I could have used that thing! It gets HOT in South Dakota in the summer; but I never opened those curtains, I never needed to. I was rarely home. I. Was. A. College Student.

That person who owned the trainers helped me out tremendously. He had read a book, which was made into a 1954 movie by the same name, Magnificent Obsession, and had chosen to live by the same ideal - To help others, selflessly and in secret. I had taken a semester off then returned to school, I struggled financially in college and this person offered me a home - rent free for the remainder of that first year until I moved to the larger trailer. Even then he helped me with phone service and only charged me minimal rent so that I had a chance to concentrate on my studies. The only condition was to not tell anyone and to some day - do the same for another. Over the years I have tried to do just that when opportunity arises.

I don't know what happened to him. I contacted him once via mail years ago to let him know I was well. I received a very nice letter from him.

He had a daughter my age, we even had classes together in college. She moved out to Los Angeles a few months before I did. She lived in the heart of Hollywood. Not a fun place. Her father helped her move back home only a few months after that. I never saw her again; I hope she is well.

I hope she learned a magnificent lesson from her selfless father.

I know I did.

And I know there are still good people in this world.


KG said...

I love that you look back on living in a trailer with fond memories! One of my best friends to this day lived in a trailer. His mom fully brought him home from the hospital and moved him into the trailer. AND he had a cat named Cleytus. They moved from the trailer, but totally had a car on cinder blocks in the front yard for a while. LOVE IT.

Unknown said...

What an awesome person (and story!) - it gives us all a little glimmer of hope that there are still good, selfless people out there!

Thanks for sharing...

Cara said...

What an awesome story, it's nice to know that there really are good people still out there.

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