As a young boy growing up on High Point Road, my Westport horizon was limited to Burr Farms Elementary School. It was a comfortable, secure place. Everyone there looked and acted just like me.
Things changed the 1st day of Long Lots Junior High.
I was a tiny 7th grader, surrounded by enormous 9th graders. The boys had facial hair; the girls had breasts. I sort of expected that.
But there was something new: students who’d gone to Green’s Farms Elementary. Most were like my Burr Farms friends.
A few came from “the trailer park.”
Their clothes were slightly different. Not a lot — but just enough, in the ultra-status conscious world of junior high, to be noticeable.
They hung out together.
They smoked cigarettes.
Gradually, I got to know the kids from “the trailer park.” Some were nice and funny and smart; others were not. Just like everyone else at Long Lots.
One thing never changed, though. I never went to any of their homes. I never set foot in “the trailer park.”
I thought of that the other day, when I read that the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to demolish the final 33 trailers — now called “mobile homes” — that still sit, very immobile, at 1655 Post Road East.
They’ll be replaced by 54 rental units, in 3-story buildings. It’s an important step forward, upgrading facilities while increasing Westport’s affordable housing stock.
The news also made me take an important look back.
Decades have passed since my junior high days. But I still think of 1655 Post Road East as “the trailer park.”
And I realize how little I cared about the lives of my fellow Long Lots students, about a mile away from my comfortable High Point Road home.