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South Polls A Double-wide What? BY JOHN SHELTON REED For her novel Devil's Dream, Lee Smith wrote the great country-music lyric, "On a double bed in a double-wide with a double shot of gin, / I'm a single gal in a one-horse town sleeping alone again." When she sent her manuscript to her New York publisher, Smith reports, it came back with the copyeditor's marginal query, "A double-wide what?" It's a safe bet that a southerner wouldn't have to ask. More than half of the South's new housing stock is now made up of mobile homes, single- and, yes, double-wide, and most southerners have at least a second-hand acquaintance with this unpretentious ifimage-challenged form ofshelter. In fact, according to a Southern Focus Poll of 801 residents ofsouthern states and 481 residents ofthe non-South conducted in the fall of 1995, two out of every five residents of the South have lived in a trailer-house at one time or another. Other Americans are only about halfas likely to have done so (only in the mountain states does the frequency approach southern levels). In the South, having lived in a mobile home is less common among migrants to the region, city folk, blacks, those with high levels of education and income, those over 65, and regular churchgoers. Native southerners, residents of rural areas and small towns, whites, those under 6 5 , those with low levels of education and income, and infrequent churchgoers are more likely to have done so—in fact, most nonmetropolitan southerners and most of those with less than a highschool education have. Outside the South the correlates ofmobile-home living are roughly similar, although the relationship to income and education is less strong and nonsouthern women are particularly likely to deny ever having lived in a trailer. 112 "Have you ever lived In a mobile home or trailer?" (percent replying "yes"): South Non-South Total3923 Region Deep South43 Peripheral South38 New England14 Middle Adantic18 East Central22 West Central27 Mountain States41 Pacific Coast23 Lived in South less than 10 years32 more than 10 years40 all my life42 Considers self southerner41 Does not33 Residence metropolitan3220 nonmetropolitan5242 Race white4124 black3314 other3622 Sex male3829 female4019 Age 18-243411 25-444331 45-644324 65 + 208 Education 1 lth grade or less5123 high school graduate4529 some college4023 college graduate2419 South Polls 1 1 3 Income less than $20,0004420 $20,000-39,9994730 $40,000-59,9993731 $60,000 + 2313 Church attendance never4826 less than weekly4427 once a week3417 more than once a week3421 The Southern Focus Poll is a semiannual telephone survey conducted by the Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3 355. Data can be obtained for further analysis from the Institute. I 14 iOHN SHELTON REED ...


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