|Vintage photo of "the Trailer"|
When we went there on Sundays after church it felt like a cozy home. In some ways it even seemed luxurious. Nobody else in my rural neighborhood had an air conditioner like they had in the trailer! The kitchen had a propane stove, an almond refrigerator and a dining table. The living room was carpeted and held a couch, a rocking chair, two armchairs and an old shortwave radio. There was a spare room with a single bed, a three piece bathroom, my grandparents' bedroom and a little shed attached to the side for the chest freezer and assorted tools. My grandmother kept it tidy, and there were fun things we could do there as kids: coloring books, a few picture books and sitting with the adults.
How my grandparents came to live in the trailer I learned later. You see, the house where I grew up used to be their house. When my parents got engaged, my grandparents were willing to sell the house to them. However, my grandfather had another idea that was less appealing. He wanted to put a mobile home for himself and his wife along the end of their lane way! My grandfather had a controlling personality, and he also felt a measure of responsibility towards my dad who had some challenges managing stress. He was going to have difficulty letting his son be an independent adult.
Fortunately, one of my uncles saw the problems inherent in having in-laws living so close to a young couples starting out. He did some research about the 100 acre farm in hopes of finding a different corner to locate the mobile home. He discovered that part of the 100 acre farm became separated from the rest of the parcel when the township changed the path of the road decades before because the original steep incline was a winter hazard. Historically, this little slice of a lot belonged to the farm's holdings and was the perfect spot for my grandparents' trailer home.
The relationship between my mom and her in-laws was strong. Visits were common. It was the perfect distance for a walk with the baby carriage when my sister and I were born. It was the perfect outing for us when we were 10 and 11 years old and my mom needed some time to herself. "Why don't you walk to Oma's house and pick her some wildflowers along the way?" she would suggest. Once when our house was full of overseas guests, I slept in her guest room for three weeks and biked back to the farm in the morning for breakfast.
When I drive past trailer parks, I don't think to myself that the people who live there are underprivileged. My grandparents were always content with the space they had, and they took good care of it. When I go camping and see similar trailers serving as summer homes, I can imagine them being year-round homes.
After my grandfather passed away and my grandmother moved to nursing care, the trailer continued to serve others. A local pastor used the space for a retreat. A single man made it his home for a period of time. Today, the trailer is unoccupied and the roof has rusted through. It has lost its former glory. But I still think of the blessing that trailer was to my relatives and how its location served my parents by giving them space to start a life of their own.