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10. Oak Crest Trailer Park

As I'm writing this, Dee Snider is hosting House of Hair on the radio and I'll be Goddamned if it doesn't remind me of the trailer park I grew up in.  In middle school I moved with my mother and brother to a little hidden armpit called Oak Crest.  I had been placed in to a self-contained classroom for badass kids who can't play with others.  To say that I was failing to adjust is an understatement on the order of saying that Whitney Houston had a minor drug habit.  Oak Crest was a small trailer park in the middle of the woods.  It was, in fact, a glorified camp ground.  The trailers were all too old to live in and in the Summer you could hear the neighbor beating his wife to the soothing sounds of Bruce Springsteen.  There was a camp speed limit of 10mph that was strictly enforced by a near-sighted manager with a shotgun and bricks.  Because of the fear of being assaulted and the help of his three sociopath sons we had to meet the pizza delivery driver at the mailboxes that marked the trailer park entrance.  It wasn't a strange sight to see these psycho degenerates throw rocks at a first-time visitor's car while screaming death threats.

The people who lived there were my kind of people.  they were all people who had nowhere else to go or just didn't fit anywhere else.  There were musicians, Bill Cosby (that was his real name) would ride around on his ten speed while playing the guitar.  He had the biggest metal hair I'd ever seen.  There were drop outs and burn outs.  I learned that values of rock and roll at fourteen sitting with these guys at their picnic table in the summers, drinking their beer and listening to everything from Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention to old Library of Congress recording of blues men.  They never treated me like a kid, never.  I felt like a roadie for a working bar band.  My proudest day was when I was knighted the official joint roller and was given permission to change records.

Living there was bittersweet.  My mother was dating a man at the time that I couldn't understand.  We never did quite jive.  I'm not sure how it was decided but he thought he could straighten me out.  This is where I believe I started to be my most rebellious.  Rock n Roll told me I couldn't be broke, but they would fucking try.  For the slightest infraction I would be punished.  It started out innocent enough.  I'd break a rule and be grounded, except the groundings became increasingly worrisome.  I could be grounded to my room and sometimes just to my bed for months.

You may not think this is all that bad but let me explain something to you if you've never had the privilege of living in a trailer made in the sixties.  They're tin cans.  They seem to hold in the heat (or cold, depending on the season) so well that breathing or moving becomes sluggish and just not worth doing.  It was like a fucking country video, the ones where you see some hot broad fanning herself on a porch in daisy dukes and a halter top.  It was like that only there was no hot chick, just the misery of the heat.  My room was so small that to make space my mother's boyfriend made loft beds that were so close to the ceiling you couldn't sit upright.  Being grounded to that bed, a foot and a half from the ceiling in the Summer for a month was torture.  It was too hot.  It was like being water boarded with thick air and what made it worse was that I could see and hear the other bad-assed kids playing from the six inches of window I had up there.

Over a period of time I would be grounded like this for the slightest of infractions and what made it worse was that my brother got hip to this.  My brother and I were never close.  We have different fathers and we're different people.  My mother's boyfriend seemed to like my brother and in the end he could really do no wrong.  If I pissed of my brother it was guaranteed my mom's boyfriend would get wind of it.  I would be punished.  Not that it fucking mattered.  I was literally being punished because I ate BBQ chips we had in the house.  Apparently, I just couldn't get my shit together.

I understood we were poor.  We lived off of small child support checks and my mother's low-paying job.  I remember always being embarrassed and ashamed.  We'd go to the Rec Center and get our WIC rations of dried eggs and powdered milk.  there was also a can in there that I think was pork.  It had an outline of a pig on it at any rate.  We got all our clothes second hand, the usual uber-poor kid shit.  The thing that bothered me was my mother's boyfriend didn't grasp that we were poor.

There was  no denying the man was talented.  He was smart and a phenomenal artist and like most men who are he didn't understand the value of money.  He only worked odd jobs at odd times and was usually paid in junk we didn't need i.e. a boat, a projector TV etc.  What really pissed me off was that while I was eating powdered milk on my corn flakes this mother fucker (literally) had BBQ chip and I'd be damned if I wasn't getting down on that.  Even if I did have to pay.

I didn't respect him, I hated him and I believe the feeling was mutual.  If it wasn't, then it sure as fuck was when he started to beat the Christ out of me.  By the end he was beating me with the hard plastic tube off of a shop vac, really laying it into me.  I didn't tell my mother and I didn't let him break me.  If I was going to get grounded for a month or beat for not getting home fast enough when he fucking whistled I was sure as fuck going to have a good time while it lasted.  I drilled this into myself and it became my downfall later in life.  I learned to live in the immediate now, to enjoy the instant because you could be worn out in the next.

I did learn how to take a hit and used it to my advantage.  I started fist fighting with the local degenerate kids and that overlapped into school.  For a long time I had a hard time keeping my hands to myself.  There is a certain power in kicking the shit out of someone.  I understand how my mom's boyfriend felt.  Unlike him, I had a sick amount of empathy and never became a bully.  In middle school I was bullied excessively but that all turned around in a fucking hurry.  Bite one ear Mike Tyson style and those pansies found easier prey.  Instead of bullying, I got my fistfights in by warring with the bullies.  I found mutual hate with the punks and we'd fist fight with the jocks constantly.  These weren't playground scuffles, they were well-orchestrated rumbles.  We'd meet in a field and beat each other senseless.  There was always blood and bashed noses and broken hands - it was exhilarating.  I felt like I was somebody, that my pounding at this asshole's face made him acknowledge me in a way he wasn't used to.  This guy was forced to accept my existence and if it took stitches and swollen eyes then so be it.

I began to enjoy my life as an outsider.  The poor kid from the trailer park and a black eye became a badge of honor to me.  It was that or play on the train tracks.  I was too awkward to be into chicks and too mean to hang out with polite society.

I quit going to school and dedicated my life to full time badassery.  I drank to shaking excess and found myself disturbingly uneasy around most people.  I started to tattoo myself as a way to keep people at bay.  Tattoos weren't popular like they are now.  They were still trashy and I put them all over myself to keep people from wanting to be near me.  I still loved rock n roll to a fault and joined a few punk bands.  It was more or a spectacle than it was rock n roll so I stopped that and got into drugs.  I couldn't do both so I chose.  I think I got it wrong.

I'm drifting away from the trailer park that I want to discuss so we'll go back to it.  I really loved that place.  There were so many different people.  It was an education.  Goddamn they were delightfully crazy and some were beautiful.

Right next door to me lived a couple, I don't remember their names but I remember his old lady was hot.  Audrey, I think her name was Audrey.  She would suntan out in the yard and I would watch her through my slit of window.  She never did take that top off no matter how much I tried to psychically encourage her to do so.  After they moved out, a guy named Rick moved in.  He'd done time in Jackson State Prison and was a psycho drunk.  He scared the shit out of me but we were friends.  Even when I was young I had a knack for being accepted by adults.  I never ran my mouth about normal kid shit.  I kept my yap shut and I listened and I studied.  I would go next door to Rick's and we'd drink beer and he would get scary drunk.  He was dating this fat chick who lived there off and on and had a daughter my age.  I was never sure exactly which one he was fucking but it's safe to say it was probably both.  He would get drunk and hold the daughter to him and pet her hair, sometimes kiss the top of her head and threaten to kill her or her mother depending on the rate of his drinking.

When it started to get dark and Rick got really drunk I'd come close to the most exciting terror.  He'd rant about everything.  He pounced on anything that moved.  He always sweated and told me how much he wanted to bang my mom.  He would scream A Boy Named Sue at the top of his lungs and punch the awning when he got to his favorite parts.  I would be scared to leave his porch because he would look at you in the most serious way and describe to me how he could destroy a man.  His death look would slide into a smile and everything would be fun for another ten minutes.  It was exhilarating.  I felt like I was finding out how fragile men really were.

There was a guy who lived across the street.  He was dating this crazy chick who was extremely ugly and had to have been maybe 16.  They would fight all the time, she would kick his ass more times than not.  One evening, Rick and I were sitting on the porch discussing the things he hated when it started raining silverware on his awning.  From across the street, Paul was throwing forks and spoons to get our attention.   His girl had sprayed Raid in his face and was trying to stab him.  Rick calmly got up, sauntered across the street like Clint Eastwood in The Man With No Name movies and slapped her hard once, driving her to the ground.  She was left sitting on her ass with her hands behind her, looking stunned.  Rick walked calmly back and we continued our discussion.  Now, I'm not one for tuning up a lady, but that was one of the few times I ever saw a woman knocked down and thought to myself that she deserved that shit.

I caught a kid raping the neighbor once.  I was older at this time and I've skipped over a lot.  Probably too much.  I'd already seen my first dead body and knew what gun metal tasted like.  Anyhow, she was a sweet kid.  She'd lived across the yard from me since she was four or five, I guess.  The piece of shit I caught raping her was this really ugly kid who hadn't been in the park long.  He had one of those neanderthal faces and constantly stank.  I had already beat the shit out of him twice.  I broke his nose after he touched my passed-out drunk girlfriends tit and then a month later in my boxers, dead of winter, with blood running down my leg from the two nails that impaled my ass when I jumped out of my bed to confront him in the street (totally different story, very funny.  If you look at my ass, it looks like a grizzly bear took a swipe at me.)  By this time Oak Crest was really going to shit.  There were rumors that the park was being sold to build houses on the land and only a fraction of the residents remained.  The empty trailers were sad places where kids touched each other for the first time or puked on themselves after sniffing gasoline.  I heard awful noises coming from one of the trailers.  I was the sound of intense labor, it wasn't a sexual sound and I'm still not sure why I even bothered to see what was going on.  I opened the weak trailer door and the first thing I recognized, or registered anyways, was her sad, scared, almost bored looking face.  When she saw me she immediately started to well up with tears in her eyes.  It occurred to me that she probably thought that I wasn't there to help, that I was there to descend on her like wolves after the initial attack.  the asshole did not have this thought I can assure you.  I'm not going to go into details, but he paid, he paid with broken bones.  She pleaded with me not to involve the authorities.  She begged and cried.  I felt sick and sad and dirty, like some sort of accomplice.  I had to share a secret like this with a young girl who had just recovered amazingly well.  A trailer park will make you tough, of that there is no doubt.  This wasn't the last rape I ever walked in on, it never ends once you get it started.  The shit just does not end.

Life was like this on a regular basis in the trailer park.  My run there ended when I almost killed the manager.  I kicked his head into the lugnuts of his truck wheel, splitting his temporal artery and left him leaking on the pavement.  As far as I was concerned, he had that coming too . . .


  1. I delivered pizza in our hometown for 3 years before Oak Crest was closed. I can attest to the fucked-up-ness of this place. The manager, shaped like Grimace from McDonalds, would chase people who drove into the park. My buddy, Chris, delivered for another pizza place and claims he was shot at by the manager. I have no reason to doubt what he ways.

  2. I'm so glad Ryan changed his mind about writing about his past. I've always told him to write a book about his life.
    Thanks John for posting these for him. Ryan and I used to smoke cigarettes, drink and talk all the time about this stuff while he was educating me on the music I should be listening to.