Williams, California

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 11.44.59 AMI’ve been struggling for a while to put into words the emotions we felt the day we spent the night in Williams. It’s a nitty gritty town in the Sacramento Valley, mostly full of farm workers. They basically get up early, work their asses off, come home late, get up and do it again. This was the beginning of October, the tail end of our Oregon/Northern Cal trip. We were looking for a convenient place to spend the night. On the map Williams seemed like the perfect spot, right off Interstate 5 and Highway 20.  On our handy dandy all stays app  the options were few, we were tired, so Almond Grove Mobile Park seemed like a good option. Our first hint, other than Williams, should have been the words ” mobile park”.

 

But what the heck, they accepted overnighters and they had pull throughs.  We checked in at the office, it was unlike any office we’ve been in. The best descriptor is a tornado ripped through the place or perhaps the couple that ran the park were hoarders.  Once we promised we weren’t partiers,  she then checked us in.  There were 6 or so pull through spots with full hook ups.  She instructed us to turn left at the office, then left again at the only doublewide in the park. She put us next to a 42 foot diesel pusher, which was probably three times the cost of our Airstream. Here we were, our neighbors and us, out traveling and living life high on the hog, surrounded by folks that were just scraping by.  I’m still grasping for words to describe our feelings. Fortunate? Lucky? But for the grace of God? Embarrassed? Empathetic? Sadness? Despair? Uncomfortable? Honestly I can’t put into words how we felt.

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Mobile Park should’ve been our first clue.

The haves.

The haves.

The have nots.

The have nots.

One of the nicer homes.

One of the nicer homes.

Not vacationers, but folks living in their trailers.

Not vacationers, but folks living in their trailers.

Coming home from work.

Coming home from work.

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Count your blessings every day.

9 thoughts on “Williams, California

  1. Thanks for sharing this. When I start to get stressed out at work and think, how much longer can I do this? I take a step back, tell myself how fortunate I am to have a well paying job with flexibility. I am fortunate to have good health, my home, a good retirement in 5 years or so and wonderful, supportive family and friends….yes, when I bring the stress on myself, I remember it could be a lot worse. I hope you two are enjoying the holidays. Sending love, Sharon

  2. Yes we are very lucky to be well fed, warm, have hot water and toilets. We are also lucky to be grateful for good loving friends, family and other such blessings. I hope the less fortunate have at least those bare minimums too.

  3. I enjoyed reading your story. Williams, CA is where I live and I know the Almond Grove Trailer Park well. I taught Alternative Education to “at risk” kids for 15 years. Many of my students lived there. My friend, Virginia Slinkard, was part have and part have not and lived at the park for many years. She was widowed and served as an American Grandmother to many of the kids who lived in the park. She was also my substitute teacher, and one that could relate to the kids incredibly well. She was a blessing. I’m researching the park now as I am preparing to profile the manager for the community newspaper I now report for. You happened upon the reality of our town and even of our county. Migrant farmworkers have housing made available to them at our Colusa County Migrant Housing Center on the other side of old ’99. They live there from April to October and then move to another agricultural opportunity in another area or return to Mexico. Over the years, many families have immigrated here because there is work offered in the fields. These hardworking families come from a culture centered on community and close knit family ties. This comes through when many from the same town or area in Mexico choose to establish their roots in the same area. I love the influence of the mexican culture on our town but it can be difficult to live with the fact that the “have nots” don’t have as many options or opportunities as the “haves.” It’s a tough situation but more and more, folks are making it work. A family I knew for years moved out of that park and has enjoyed home ownership in the same town for years now. The Park provided a stable place where their children were safe and they could work the long hours and many days with no breaks that manual labor in Ag often require. It provides a community. I am glad you were witness to this and hope you won’t be a stranger to Williams. There is more to see I assure you. Contact me on your next trip through.

    • Thank you for your comments. We still often reflect on that day. What’s the name of the community newspaper? I’m interested in reading the profile of the manager and some of your other articles. And kudos for teaching Alternative Education to at risk kids for 15 years. You no doubt made an impact on many lives. If we are ever up that way again we will definitely contact you.

      Greg

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