How the Mobile Home Stigma Began

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  1. My husband’s family lived in one of these for part of WWII. At that time, it was the 2 parents and 2 children under the age of 4; then extended family members moved in with them for a while – 2 more parents and 2 more children. And no bathroom! You’re absolutely right about them doing their part for the good of the country!

  2. I still can’t believe there’s still ignorant people that call MHP “trailer parks”. Luckily I haven’t run into too many but I always correct them and say, “excuse me but you can’t hitch this behind your truck and pull it. MHs can be bigger and nicer than a lot of “homes”. My husband inheirited some money 21 years ago. The market was INSANE as many remember. We decided we wanted to buy something outright because we didn’t want a mortgage. We paid 27,990 for a 1972 Carriage (I think that’s what it is called). In 6 months it tripled in value. Later the tiny house movement started. Our home today is worth over 130,000 in California. My problem are the parks. You rent the land and have to maintain/plant etc. They do no maintenance on tall trees. In a lot of parks (including my own now) I’ve seen weed filled yards, yards full of junk in the back and front, piles of junk on front porches, tenants parked in guest parking and management does nothing. Meaningless threats get mailed out and that’s it. No tow truck drives through at night to pick up cars lining the street. The only thing that has changed for the better is our clubhouse. It’s very nice now for parties. Unfortunately the new thing is to let your guest strew there paper products and plastic bottles all over the lawn and play area then make a half-hearted attempt to clean it up. The manager here now won’t hire an assistant so she whines, “I’m only one person, or what do you want me to do?” She also tells who it is if a person files a complaint against another.

  3. My parents lived in a trailer park city when Dad was in the Navy out in San Diego. Anybody have any information about that location – ?Bon Ami? near Chula Vista?

  4. Very unique and interesting website, as well as article! I have had an almost lifelong passion – I’m just now 60! – for anything and everything early 40’s, during WWII, and immediately following, particularly regarding living conditions on the Homefront and how that demand was met. I have seen several of these pictures before, on another website called “Shorpy” (consult the site regarding the origin and meaning of the name, if you’re interested) but several others are new to me. Equally interesting, all of them! Personally, I think the fairly primitive living conditions that people took up, and accepted “for the duration,” spoke well for the hardy stock from which they came, just that minute easing out of a decade-long Depression, and its attendant shortages and hardships. Since they weren’t​ strangers to such conditions, in spite of being quite weary of them, the nation’s call to arms, to 24-hour a day production of the materiel of war, hard work, shortages and deprivation, weren’t any strangers to them really. The previous generation – parents of these workers – having been through much worse during WWI, since even though the duration of our participation was shorter than other countries, our government had much less time, technology and know-how in getting such a job done. Everything had to be done in double-quick time, and there was much less to work with! The technology involved in producing the average airplane during WWI paled badly in comparison to what was involved in the then advanced technology of the early 40’s! A great deal more advanced technology was involved, not only in the assembly of the plane, but in the pieces and parts it took to build it.
    I guess my point is that we had come so far ahead between the two wars, that the short term advances that took place to produce the travel trailer/mobile home needed its own growing space and time as well. They were the most basic of shelter, just a few steps ahead of a “garage on wheels for people” when first pressed into service, and the lack of R&D by the time the War broke out and the demands placed upon them hurt them a great deal due to the initial lack of proper materials, technology and knowledge in how to build high quality units. People took what was offered, and gladly in most cases, because they were again not alone in such hardships. “Relative deprivation,” a term that came out of college sociology and stuck with me, explains why so many people were able to stand such conditions for so long. It was because each couple or family was not alone in the deprivation, they were all in it together, in large groups. It did no good – served no purpose – to whine and complain about their circumstances, because their neighbors were all in it together! Nobody else in their immediate vicinity had it any better or any worse than they did. They consulted each other for ideas on how to solve their own problems, since it was a matter of simple comparison that they all had it about the same. The focus was on how to best solve the nation’s needs for defense materiel, much less their own simpler requirements for living from day to day.
    Since none of those early “mobile homes” had indoor plumbing of any kind, W is isater was fetched from the nearest outside water spigot, carried in buckets or basins, used and then discarded outside as well. Laundry water likewise, and there were also no indoor toilets or showers inside the units either. Shower houses took the place of private facilities inside each unit. Children took to them just like any other “adventure” they could dream up! I’m sure also that after the War, just about any other kind of living accommodations seemed palatial by comparison!

    1. Wow, Shari! You’ve really put the situation of WWII into a much better perspective than I ever could. Thank you for taking the time to share such insightful and moving information.

      I would love to have you write a post about relative deprivation and life in the trailers during the war. My email is, if you’re willing please email me!

  5. HI Crystal,
    Thank you for that great article! I’d love to use some of those photos in a talk I’ll be giving in about a month, about how mobile homes and parks deserve more credit than many people give them. Do you know if these pics are in the public domain? If not, any idea how I can get permission to use them?
    Of course, I’ll mention your website. What a great job you’re doing here!