Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#699: 8-by-40-foot trailer

After moving back home with my parents for over a year, early in 1980 Tina The Girlfriend & I pulled together our measly cash & moved into an antique 8-foot-wide, 40-foot-long mobile home on West Boise's main drag, Fairview Ave.
Located next door to a Wendy's, a used bookstore and pizza parlor were right across the street, & a record store was just around the corner. The location was perfect. & the price was right, because it was CHEAP. I was getting tired of sleeping on my parents' hide-a-bed in their living room. & I'm sure they were getting tired of me.
The trailer had Charm to spare. Built sometime in the '50s, it had cute little solid-wood cabinets & cute little closets & a cute little kitchen with a cute tiny refrigerator (and the world's smallest icebox) -- & an adorable little bathroom in which you could practically sit on the toilet, brush your teeth & take a shower all at the same time.
But you had to be FAST. The hot water for the shower ran out in about five minutes.
There were other bonus surprises: The trailer had a gas stove that had to be re-lit anytime you wanted to use it. So I'd stick my whole head into the oven, lit match in hand, search for the pilot light, and then BOOM! And I was ready to warm up some instant coffee. Needless to say, I didn't do that too often....
But the biggest surprise was when it rained. Then rain water would POUR out of the trailer's fuse box.
I'm still amazed we weren't electrocuted, or blown up in a gas explosion, or frozen when the hot water ran out. Oh, & in the winter, if you turned on the heater, it took about 20 minutes to START getting warm....
But we didn't care, it was OURS. We had privacy & a place to call our own, & the trailer was really comfy & charming -- if you ignore that I had to turn sideways to move up and down the hallway.
The place was crammed full of my music, my books, my rock&roll posters (some of which were stapled to the CEILING because there was no room on the walls), all of Tina's clothes and other belongings.... The living room was so small there was room for a loveseat on one wall (where I worked), and a small old wooden dining table with a chair on the other wall -- & just barely enough room to walk between the two.
There were other problems. The place was perfect for one person. For two, it was a little SMALL. And if someone got upset, there was nowhere to go.
I'd just become Singles Buyer for the local four-store Musicworks record-store "chain," & I took it with all the Seriousness of any job I've ever had -- Completely Seriously, And Don't Bother Me When I'm Working. When I first took over the work, I even took the job home with me, trying to get stuff organized. And bit Tina's head off when she tried to talk to me.
I don't blame her. I was a jerk. And we were probably too young to be trying to keep house together.
But we were so thrilled to have a place of our own, we didn't even realize what a run-down neighborhood it was.
Most of the other trailers in the trailer court were more beat-up than ours, though I don't remember any of them being much OLDER. The place really was pretty trashy, though I remember it as being pretty quiet. My cousin Jim lived right next door, & I wonder now how many of our arguments he must have overheard....
But we learned some strong People Skills while living there: We had one fairly obnoxious neighbor who lived across the court, & whenever she visited & started talking a mile a minute, I'd put on David Sancious and Tone's offbeat jazz-rock "Transformation (The Speed of Love)" as "mood music" -- and within 10 minutes the talky neighbor would be gone. Something about Sancious's odd melodic twists & turns would drive her out of the house. Worked every time.
Whenever the stress got to be too much (whether it was job-related or personal), I'd put on the Pretenders' first album -- and by the time I got to the glorious guitar meltdown at the end of "Lovers of Today" & the brutal kiss-off of "Mystery Achievement," I'd feel better. Because I knew that no matter how bad a day I might've had, Chrissie Hynde had lived through a bunch of them that were WORSE. That album got me through 1980 alive.
But after 9 months in the tiny trailer, things started going bad. I saw someone peek in our bedroom window one morning about 1 a.m., & when I moved to chase them all I saw was a flash of light running away. This triggered the first of several phone calls I made to the local police. I started sleeping with a club right next to the bed, just in case.
I had started reading the works of Hunter S. Thompson (THE GREAT SHARK HUNT, FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL '72), & perhaps was seeing the world as more complicated & sinister than I had before.
A friend needed somewhere to live cheap, & the three of us moved into a twice-as-big trailer elsewhere in the court. It was much nicer & much roomier, though darker.
And people still kept trying to break in....
I don't think we stayed longer than three months before moving to an upscale two-bedroom apartment across town, which is another part of the ongoing story....
The last time I was in Boise I noticed the old trailer court had been bulldozed (probably YEARS ago) and replaced by more stores....

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