The Wrong Side Of the Tracks
Weese made a comment on my post about the family from the other side of the tracks. She wondered why there was such a divide in so many towns. It seems that historically the railroads serviced industry. In the instance in my home town there was a steel mill that manufactured wheels and brake systems for trains. Trains came to drop off scrap metal and take away newly manufactured products.
This steel mill built homes for many of its workers. They looked exactly like what one would imagine a company house to look like. They were two story houses with few if any closets, two or three small bed rooms and one bath room. There were about a hundred homes like this in our town.
These homes were for the working class people and were by no means luxurious. It was luxury that the company gave you a place to live in the first place. Their proximity to the plant was close and this was vital to people having a short walk to work. All the houses were on the same side of the tracks as the plant.
The other side of the tracks was where the people who were not working class lived. These were the bosses that didn’t walk to work. Eventually the Unions became the great equalizer. The working class eventually made enough money that they could buy their company home or better yet buy homes on the other side of the tracks. Even better yet, they bought company homes, rented them out and bought and lived in homes on the other side of the tracks. There were many people who owned several homes in my old town. I have a relative back there that owns probably seven. My father owned two homes there.
Sadly, it was the poor that ended up in the company homes. They were those who could never get up a down payment. Back in the old days you needed to have at least 10% on hand before you could even be considered for a mortgage. The poor either made less money, or had addiction problems where their money was squandered. They needed a place to live and support their habits and they were generally good about holding back enough cash each month to pay their rent.
So when you hear of someone coming from the wrong side of the tracks it was due to an entire economic sub culture that still exists today, though today it often looks different, especially on paper. Some people make a good income, but they are buried by debt or they fund dead end projects like boats (and horses).