TULSA, OK—Over the course of its 24-year history, Kilty's Kourt, a Tulsa-area trailer park, has shattered no stereotypes, causing no one to rethink any preconceptions about its coarse, poorly educated residents.
"Very often, one forms a set of preconceived notions about a type of person based on generalizations, but then a closer examination of the individuals within the situation allows one to look beyond these stereotypes," said University of Oklahoma sociologist Dr. Terry Atkins, who recently completed an in-depth three-year study of the trailer park. "Such is not the case here, though: Kilty's Kourt is pretty much a depressing, disgusting place filled with total losers."
Atkins had intended the study to challenge unfair, negative images of mobile-home dwellers by collecting statistical data that contradicts commonly held misconceptions. The professor's findings, however, only affirmed popular conceptions, with unemployment, sexual promiscuity and lack of education the norm among residents.
Affirming widely held assumptions about trailer parks, Kilty's Kourt is little more than a muddy field filled with mobile homes in various states of disrepair. The blighted park is littered with rusted cars up on blocks, half-attached screen doors, makeshift clotheslines with laundry hanging untouched for weeks, and toppled TV antennas.
Nor do the park's inhabitants—obese women who take notice of their filthy, pantsless children only long enough to scream at them; skinny, shirtless men who stink of McCormick vodka most of the day; a cadre of Ku Klux Klan sympathizers; and a sprinkling of clinically insane veterans—shatter any myths.
"Based on all the stories I'd heard about trailer-park types, I expected to see the lowest of the low, people I wouldn't even want to look at, much less talk to," Atkins said. "I pretty much hit the nail right on the head."
Atkins said he had also hoped that the study would give him a greater understanding of those who occupy a lower socioeconomic strata than himself, and vice-versa.
"This project, in theory, afforded an upper-middle-class academic like myself the opportunity to build bridges with those of a culturally dissimilar background, enabling both me and them to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the other's unique perspectives and experiences," he said. "Nope. Didn't happen. I did, however, have a lot of empty bottles thrown at me through missing windows."
On his final day at Kilty's Kourt, Atkins was called "a fucking dead man" by one barefoot resident, threatened with a swinging hair dryer, and warned that he had "better stay away from White Jimmy's bitch."
"They live like pigs," Atkins said. "Foul-mouthed, degenerate pigs."
Members of the Tulsa Police Department may know Kilty's Kourt best of all, as they are called to the four-block area 20 to 30 times a week.
"Just because a person isn't made of money doesn't mean they can't live their life with self-respect, gaining satisfaction and joy from simple things like the smile on a child's face, the beauty of a song, or the love of neighbors and friends," Tulsa police officer Joseph Lindgren said. "Unfortunately, no one like that lives in this place."
"I once heard this joke about a white-trash mother, something about her four-year-old still breast-feeding," Lindgren continued. "I thought, 'That so-called 'humor' is just an offensive, discriminatory stereotype.' That was before I met Rhonda in 22."
The most common charges, which Lindgren called "more or less right in line with what everyone would expect from people in a place like this," are drunken and disorderly conduct, wife battery, drug possession, illegal possession of a firearm and child neglect.
"Just last night, the woman in 32 hit the guy in 18 over the head with a shovel and knocked him clean out," Lindgren said. "We had to haul both of them in."
"What a shithole," he added.