10:26:12 am on
Thursday 13 Jun 2024

First Tiny House Nation
AJ Robinson

These days, what with all the cable channels available, a person can find television shows to please just about every taste. One I found, a while back, was about tiny homes. These are typically very small houses, a few hundred square feet and the people that live in them have to get by with very little in the way of material possessions; this makes sense.

A variety of people move into tiny houses.

Over the various seasons of the show that I’ve watched, I’ve seen a wide variety of people get a tiny house. Sometimes, it’s a young couple just starting out. They didn’t want the burdened of a large mortgage or they wanted a home so small they could easily put it on a trailer to move it across the country.

Others owners of tiny house have been older couples. The “empty nesters,” as they are often called. They simply want to downsize and live a simpler life. There have also been people who just wanted to live “off the grid,” get a little shack off in the wilderness and live life their own way without interference by anyone.

In Canada, there was a housing allowance allotted to returning WWII veterans. Many used the money to build homes only slightly larger the tiny houses once and again popular. Much of the post-WWII generation, in Canada, were raised in these tiny homes.

Some of the homes have been quite impressive, downright masters of efficiency in their ability to pack a plethora of household items into a microscopic space. Seeing these places made me realize something. The cottages in the Campgrounds of Oak Bluffs, on Martha’s Vineyard, were the original “Tiny House Nation.”

No superfluous rooms in these tiny cottages.

The cottages, built on parcels of land that were intended for camping, had to be quite small and the layouts were designed, as with their modern equivalent, to maximize the efficient use of space. This meant no hallways, narrow stairs and no superfluous rooms, such as a game room, study, library or even a laundry room. Originally, they didn’t even have bathrooms! Back in the day, as the saying goes, an outhouse was all you got.

Now, today, I realize that we’ve come full circle in the realm of tiny homes. Simple working class people built those cottages, in order to spend a couple weeks on a summer vacation. In our modern society, the One-Percenters own most everything. Those old cottages aren’t available for us regular folk anymore. We just can’t afford them. For a while, I was upset, as the Campgrounds was the place of my youth and I oh-so wanted to have a cottage there again. Short of winning the lottery, I don’t see me ever being able to afford one.

Yet, I’m no longer concerned about that. Let the wealthy snatch up the cottages, let them remodel and renovate them to their heart’s content, I don’t mind. I have a new goal for my future. All I want is a little piece of land on Martha’s Vineyard. On that plot, I’ll build my own tiny home, a modern cottage that I can call my own and spend my summers there. If I can have that, if I can spend my retirement years in such a place, I can be happy.

Frankly, I’m y excited about the prospects of building the place. We can fully customise such tiny homes; tricked it out. This means Jo Ann and I can have a cute little place all our own.

A new version of the Campgrounds would be great.

If I could, I would start a new version of the Campgrounds on the island. I’d buy a big chunk of land, carve it up into small sections and let people build tiny homes on them. If I could do that, then my life would truly come full circle. I would give future children the chance of having the sort of childhood I enjoyed on the island. I can think of no greater gift to give and reward receivable than that.

May we all have such lofty goals.


Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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