Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Kangaroo Kronicles – 8 – The Nearness of You

Saturday, May 14, 2011 By   ·0

The Kangaroo Part VIII – The Nearness of You


Stu Silver / “Uncle Zally” Zalman Velvel

It’s 7:00 AM on the third Sunday in March, and I’m back at the Kangaroo Convenience Store in Ocala, Florida, grabbing a super-large cup of Peruvian coffee. The store is deserted. There must have been a lot of party-hearty’ing Saturday night.


My mind is blank about what to write about today. No ideas.  Nothing. The right side of my brain is as deserted as the Kangaroo. I have two hours to pound out this blog before my wife wakes up, has her tea, and sanitizes every nook and cranny in our mobile home because she says I “pigged it up” in her absence. This is only the second time in three months she has joined me when I visited the park – my son and I come every Tuesday, without her, to check on mobile homes we are renovating, collect the rents, solve problems that come up, try new marketing ideas, and generally let our employees know we care about the good job they are doing.


When I returned with my morning Kangaroo Koffee, I pulled my “new” 1999 Dodge pickup with 174,000 miles into the carport in front of our double wide. I took the truck in trade for 3 months of lot rent that was owed by a really nice guy in the park, and 2 months of future lot rent. I came up with the deal because I didn’t want to evict him and see him lose his home. I had to add $1,000 cash to make the transaction work. I wondered if I shouldn’t have taken 3 more  months of future lot rent instead of offering the cash. Will I have the same eviction problem in the future? I hope not. We’ll see. (editor’s note… he’s late with the May lot rent now.)


My next door neighbor, who lives 15 feet away from our doublewide, started up his car and pulled out, as I pulled in. He’s a great guy, retired, always helping others out. He loves tinkering, so I offered him a shell of a mobile home we inherited in the park as a big workshop in exchange for him weedwacking and mowing around the lake.

 We nod to each other. We see each other’s comings and goings here in the park. That’s when the idea hit me for this article.

 You see, when the wife and I arrived at our doublewide last night, there was a party breaking up, across the street, next to the lake. The residents were giving a warm sendoff to one of our Workampers. (I’ll explain what Workampers are in a future article.) When we pulled in, it was 10 PM, and the Super Moon was up.

  It was called a Super Moon because it was closer than it has been in 18 years. In keeping with how crazy the full Moon makes people, there was another party across the lake, in the Ocala National Forest, where people who weren’t from our park were beating drums and singing Native Indian music. They started at 11 PM, and ran until 5 AM. For six hours, the pounding reverberated inside our mobile home.


So everything is closer this weekend – the Moon, and our neighbors. That’s what I want to write about: mobile home living means having neighbors close by.


My wife and I are not used to it. We own a dozen mobile home parks, some large, some small, but we have never have actually lived in a mobile home park until now. Our primary residence in on ten acres, which also contains the homes our children and we have a lot of privacy. We only know one family out of the 50 families that occupy the nearby subdivision.

I joke and say our family need lots of space between us and our neighbors because we are a loud and crazy bunch, although I think the people across the lake who were partying all night long in the Ocala National Forest might have been an even louder and crazier bunch. They needed the whole 380,000 acres of preserve as a buffer between them and the rest of civilization. Ten acres was nowhere near enough.

In contrast, the park we own has almost 100 families, and everyone knows everyone else. It is age restricted, requiring one member of each home be at least 55 years of age or older. One resident, a dear sweet widow of 78 is starting to “lose it,” and her neighbors come by and check on her every day. The residents look out for one another. There have been four different owners of the park in the last six years, because of foreclosure and receivers, and they are starting to trust us now as we improve the park. Normally, I would not want to have personal relationships with residents in our parks, preferring a professional distance, but this park is very special.  


I wonder, is it better to know one family out of the fifty that surround you, and even then, not know a thing about each other? Or is better to be close and personal, and see each other’s comings and goings? When there is an emergency, which one is better? Which one is better when you need someone to help you? Privacy can be a blessing at times, but which one is better when you want some simple human companionship?


Speaking of helping, now I have to I help my wife set up our new bed, because she can’t stand the thought of sleeping on someone else’s bed. Our bed here in the doublewide was left, along with all the furniture, by the previous owners. It doesn’t make any difference to her they were   extraordinarily clean and fastidious housekeepers. The bed must be changed. There is no point in arguing that when we stay in hotels, we are sleeping on someone else’s beds. Our bed here must be ours, and ours alone. No one else can ever have slept in it, not even George Washington.


Then, after she vaccuums our doublewide within an inch of its life, we are going to explore the Ocala National Forest. Not all 380,000 acres, just the attractions, like the shooting range, the horse trails, the hiking paths, the 66 miles of four wheeling trails, and the natural springs in Juniper. We want to scout out the fun things to do for the visitors who stay in our lakeside cabins.

Cheers, mate!



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