NORWOOD TRAILERITES — Mr. and Mrs. Steven Larasway (left) and the family cat sit in the living room of their compact little trailer home on the Providence Highway at the corner of Sumner street. At the right, Mrs. Laraway whips up a cake for supper after finishing her housework — a job that takes three-quarters of an hour every morning. (McLean Photo)

Laraways Have More Money And Time Since Buying Movable Home

Mr. and .Mrs. Steven L. Laraway, their 16-year-old daughter, Estelle, and the family cat, Minnie, live on the corner of Sumner street and the Providence Highway. Norwood. Like everyone else in the world, they have always had dreams of an ideal existence. Unlike the majority of people in the world, they are now realizing their ideal.

Four years ago the L#araways, converted to a special race known as “Trailcritcs”—a race of thousands of people scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Laraways had long been residents of Riverside. Rhode Island, where they owned a seven-room house. Like all homeowners, Mr. Laraway found that a good percentage of his pay went into property upkeep There was always some kind of repair to be made: he was forever devoting his spare time to fixing and replacing all the things that manage to get broken in the course of everyday family living. Mrs. Laraway’s life seemed to be dedicated entirely to the job of cleaning house. By becoming Trailcrites. they banished these necessary evils forever.

Speeds Through Housework

Mr. Laraway now spends his spare time hunting and fishing Mrs. Laraway has the beds made, the dishes done, the whole house cleaned from stem to stern in three-quarters of an hour in the morning and the rest of the day is hers. Together they have more time for recreation. The money ‘ that went into taxes and repairs, furniture, and house heating is now pure profit. ‘‘People often become slaves to their property, anyway.” Mr. Laraway says.

It owns them—they don’t own it

In trailer living, we have found the perfect remedy to the rising cost of living. It offsets everything. For instance, the very largest trailer manufactured today costs $35 a year to heat and there’s no waste. The total upkeep of a trailer is from three to four hours a month. The average rent in a trailer camp is four dollars a week but there are some as low as two and a half. That includes all the facilities—the showers, laundries,% a place to park your car, the récréation.”

Mr. Laraway’s interest in the Trailerite movement, as it will perhaps someday be called in sociological studies of life in the United States, began about nine years ago. His brother-in-law, the late Joseph A. Mayhew, was in charge of the trailer park in West Rox- bury—incidentally, one of the first trailer camps in he country. Mr. Mayhew later came to Norwood to begin his “Mayhew Trailer Sales” business on the Highway, which the Laraways are now carrying on.

Although they became extremely conscious of trailers nine years ago, they remained stationary residents of Riverside and spent four or five years just looking at trailers and talking and thinking about them. Then came the war and Mr. Laraway began work at the Boston Navy Yard as an electrician, commuting from Rhode Island to Boston every day. That decided him. He sold his home and furnishings, was transferred to Quonset, bought a trailer, and moved his new house on wheels to Sun Valley in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, where the experiment in trailer living began. He later moved to the Mayhew’s trailer park in West Roxbury on the banks of the Charles River and resided there for a year.

There is a great deal of community spirit in a trailer camp. At the central recreation halls, Trailerites get together for camp parties for themselves and their children in West Roxbury for instance, the Laraway’s neighbors were older people who had retired from bus- iness and were living on their savings: Boston school teachers; j war veterans who had come to Boston to study on the GI Bill of Rights. One street in the park was known as Army Row. Here the residents were all Army personnel stationed in Boston and prepared to move at a moment’s notice to a new post and new assignment. They were also victims of the housing shortage and therefore had converted to trailer life because they could move themselves and their .families at any instant without the work of packing or the worry of house-hunting in a new community. The Trailerite children went to Boston schools after paying a small entrance fee. “In the summer West Roxbury was ideal” Mr. Laraway said. “We were within a stones throw of the river; we enjoyed boating and swimming without the expense of going away to the beach on vacation.”

Originated In Mid-West

The trailer way of life originated in the mid-West about 15 years ago, “It .really wasn’t anything new.” Mr. Laraway says. “Just an up to date version of the old covered wagon.” In California today there are over 100,000 trailers. Since the end of the war and the beginning of the housing shortage and the rise in living expenses, over 600,000 trailers have been manufactured. True Trailerites keep in touch with each other and up to date on locations and conditions as “Trailer Topics”, a monthly magazine. This is filled with the experiences of veteran Trailerites, adventure-seeking Trailerites., new experiments in parks, trailer living on college campuses. Another monthly is “Trailer Park Progress.” This is published by the Trailer Coach Manufacturers Association, which is largely responsible for the constant improvements in park conditions. The TCMA rates parks and gives them the stamp of approval if they live up to its rigid standards of sanitation cleanliness, and attractiveness. The Association also sets the rules whereby trailer parks form their rules aad regulations. These cover such aspects as general conduct; car and trailer parking; park planning and layout; laundry methods; the keeping of pets.

To one unfamiliar with trailer encampments, it is surprising to learn of the parks in Florida and California where there are recreation halls, theatres. self-servic< grocery stores. In Florida, one encampment of 1000 units bought the parkland on a cooperative basis.

Here the Trailerites elected their own mayor, built churches and theatres and stores, set up their own police and fire squadrons.

The Laraways came to Norwood in March, 1947, and now conduct the Mayhew business, living on the property to protect their business enterprise. Their daughter is a senior at the H. O. Peabody School where she is enrolled in the secretarial course. Next year they hope remove to Florida, and it will take them just a half hour to prepare for the journey—Mrs. Laraway will then take down the bric-a-brac from the shelves in her living room, and Mr. Laraway will unhitch his house from the outside water tank. Trailerites carry their own water supply and bottled gas for cooking and heating. Although toilet facilities are the chief drawback to trailer life, Mr. Laraway points out that rapid progress has been made to overcome this. Trailer parks have community facilities which are constantly inspected by TCMA authorities. The trailers are fully, equipped with hot and cold running water, with showers, with built-in refrigerators, and small, complete gas stoves and ovens. They come, of course, completely furnished and the majority of them have sleeping facilities for four people.

Attractive Little Home

The Laraways have an attractive little home. Their living room is dressed up with bright slip Covers, curtains, pictures, and ornaments. It is just like any small apartment living room—with a stove in the corner that makes it particularly warm and comfortable these wintry days. They do a great deal of entertaining: one day last summer they had 20 guests, and fed them in two shifts. Their daughter- Estelle enjoys bringing her schoolmates home, and young people are particularly fascinated by the compact little house. During the Messenger’s visit, the Laraways entertained a guest, George Aubin, whose home is near Cranston, Rhode Island. George is a former GI now studying to be a veterinarian at Rhode Island State College. Early in the fall he purchased his first trailer and is now one of the seven Trailerite GI students on campus.

“I’d never live any other way,” he said. “When I go home to visit my mother, I get lost in all the rooms and can t find a thing. My trailer is always warm and comfortable, and at night it’s the coziest-looking little place in the world.”

Anything new excites curiosity; and although trailers have been on the road now for some years, they are still considered phenomenal by the average citizen. Mr. Lara way recalls one day last spring when he and his wife were hauling a new trailer north from Virginia. They stopped at a restaurant in New Rochelle. After finishing dinner they came out to find a crowd of 400 people gathered around the trailer, looking through the windows and examining the outside from every angle. Which proves that the pioneer spirit of covered wagon days remains a strong characteristic of Mr. and Mrs. America.