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Wheels

In response to:

The Narcissistic South from the October 26, 1989 issue

To the Editors:

Apparently the venerable C. Vann Woodward has never seen a mobile home. Citing the great number of such dwellings in the south as an example of the wandering, rootless nature of southerners [“The Narcissistic South,” NYR, October 26], he does not know that these prefab homes, once established, are rarely, if ever mobile. Once rooted, they stay. Perhaps he was thinking of “recreational vehicles” which are truly mobile and do really move all over the country, towed by automobiles or small trucks…and they are found all over the country.

Rolf Kaltenborn
Palm Beach, Florida

C Vann Woodward replies:

Mr. Kaltenborn confuses “prefab homes” and “recreational vehicles” with “mobile homes.” The latter are doubtless rare in Palm Beach, but the confusion is quite common and understandable. Prefab homes are indeed transported by the manufacturer to the purchaser on huge trailers. They are sometimes called “mobile homes,” but their mobility phase ends with their delivery and planting on the lot of the owner. “Recreational vehicles” are used for the purpose their name suggests but rarely as homes in the usual sense. They can be quite fancy and expensive. Real mobile homes, on the other hand, are one of the cheapest forms of housing, and the market for them is chiefly in the working class. The leading place southerners maintain as purchasers is probably as indicative of their poverty as their mobility. But while it is immobilized for periods (usually as long as jobs are available in the vicinity for the owner), the home on wheels is manufactured to be mobile and can be remobilized to move on to the next job, or periodic searches for one.

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