1066 The Orangeman
(STATE COLLEGE PA) -- Meet Roddy O’Malley, a cranky, funny hardworking guy who came over from Armagh, Northern Ireland before they started calling it a city, and settled here. You can say it either AR-mah or ar-MAH still be right.
Anyway, Roddy and some brothers and a sister settle here in County Centre and do what some Irish do when they get to America, work hard and don’t bother about a driver license because before long it’ll get suspended anyway.
Roddy works long hours in small jobs and buys himself a palatial home. It’s called a “manufactured home,” earlier known as a “mobile home,” and before that, a trailer. A nice house on a rented patch in a mobile home park, earlier known as a trailer park.
Sometimes he has a brother or two in the house, other times -- which he prefers -- he’s by himself.
Walks to work across the road, walks home afterward.
Now comes a notice from the landlord: “You have until July, 2013 to find new accommodations. We have sold the property -- the neighborhood -- and are putting up a new slum.”
That’s in quotation marks but it’s not exact.
This is the first of two such neighborhood shutdowns in this vicinity within a week. You can add another 100 or so to Roddy’s 299 neighbors for the second park which is to become another overpriced student housing “complex.”
Roddy says “We knew it had to happen. After all, a shopping mall goes in front, big, expensive houses on the back. Looks nicer than all this...” as he waves his hand toward a bunch of trailers, some pristine, some ramshackle, most somewhere in between.
Won’t the town stop this?
“Nah... they get rid of us undesirables, put in some new stuff and the taxes go way up. You know a town doesn’t have its tongue hanging out for more taxes and fewer of... us?”
So how will you get to work? No answer. It depends on where Roddy and the rest of the worthless, dirty, unsightly bums land.
Most of the folks in these communities are underemployed. Some get food stamps. Others could but don’t and won’t.
The county has a whole program of relocation services because over the last while, many of these neighborhoods have fallen to the wreckers. The money spent on relocation services maybe would have bought the land and started an ownership co-op for the residents.
But there are those tax increases and those municipal hanging tongues.
Roddy and his guest crack open a couple of Buds and watch the kids minding this community’s perpetual bike sale which has been going on in the front yard since Ignaz Schwinn was a boy.
“You make any money on the bike sales?”
“Nah, nothing much. But people see the bikes here. Bring us more all the time. We got a nice Fourth of July party out of about a year’s worth. And we’re going to get some new Christmas decorations this year. Well, we were but maybe not now.”
It’s a community. People work together to keep it looking decent. They watch out for one another. They work in the jobs that the rest of us don’t want in places where we don’t really see them even when we look at them when they’re checking us out of Wal-mart or cooking up ribs-to-go at the takeout or rotating our tires.
Roddy is putting on a little weight and has lost yet another tooth. But his back and his hands are still able. He speaks three languages. Really one and two halves. But enough to get by back in Armagh and in Shanghai. He’s an avid reader. He’s an avid storyteller.
He doesn’t want to have to tell the one that’ll uproot him in just a few months after decades of supervising the perpetual bike sale.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012
(Certified as all original by the Dustball Plagiarism Checker.)
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