Remember the character in the movie "Network" who yelled; "I'm mad as hell and I won't take it anymore"? That's exactly how I feel whenever I hear or read two words--"trailer trash. The words or inference keep popping up in novels, in articles, in movies, on TV, in a description of a Barbie doll. We've heard them repeatedly in references to Paula Jones , President Clinton's nemesis in a sexual harassment case. A Newsweek writer, speaking on television, referred to Jones's reputation as "just some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks. The park where my husband and I live has more than 1, homes. The park is well maintained, likewise the homes, with perhaps one or two exceptions. Not a bad ratio, since unkempt homes can be found in any neighborhood.
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Trailer trash is a derogatory North American English term for poor people living in a trailer or a mobile home. In the midth century, poor whites who could not afford to buy suburban-style tract housing began to purchase mobile homes, which were not only cheaper, but which could be easily relocated if work in one location ran out. These — sometimes by choice and sometimes through local zoning laws — gathered in trailer camps, and the people who lived in them became known as "trailer trash". Despite many of them having jobs, albeit sometimes itinerant ones, the character flaws that had been perceived in poor white trash in the past were transferred to trailer trash, and trailer camps or parks were seen as being inhabited by retired persons, migrant workers, and, generally, the poor. Trailers got their start in the s, and their use proliferated during the housing shortage of World War II , when the Federal government used as many as 30, of them to house defense workers, soldiers and sailors throughout the country, but especially around areas with a large military or defense presence, such as Mobile, Alabama and Pascagoula, Mississippi. In her book Journey Through Chaos , reporter Agnes Meyer of The Washington Post travelled throughout the country, reporting on the condition of the "neglected rural areas", and described the people who lived in the trailers, tents and shacks in such areas as malnourished, unable to read or write, and generally ragged. The workers who came to Mobile and Pascagoula to work in the shipyards there were from the backwoods of the South, "subnormal swamp and mountain folk" whom the locals described as "vermin"; elsewhere, they were called "squatters". They were accused of having loose morals, high illegitimacy rates, and of allowing prostitution to thrive in their "Hillbilly Havens". The trailers themselves — sometimes purchased second- or third-hand — were often unsightly, unsanitary and dilapidated, causing communities to zone them away from the more desirable areas, which meant away from schools, stores, and other necessary facilities, often literally on the other side of the railroad tracks.