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After 50 Years, Retired Couple Hits the Road
Utah Producer Alex Beckstead journeyed to a deserted Arizona trailer park to explore the affectionate, complicated marriage of his grandparents. He came back with an intimate story about the people he loves-and some of the things he doesn't love about them.
In "Trailer Park Blues," a one-hour documentary which first aired on KUED-Channel 7 Friday, December 28 at 9:00 p.m., former KUED employee Alex Beckstead tells the story of Bill and Peggy Heiner, who travel across the Southwest every winter with their trailer in search of freedom and change. After 50 years together, they have a rich history to talk about-and a wide-open road ahead of them.
As the film recounts, Bill Heiner was a union boilermaker who joined the Navy at 17 and fought in the South Pacific during World War II. Peggy raised seven kids in a cramped three-bedroom house, often by herself, while her husband worked out of town for months at a time.
Now, with new-found freedom they hit the road, towing their trailer across the Southwest, up the Pacific Coast, and home again, following the RV snowbird caravans that migrate with the seasons. For the past several years, they've spent the winter in a trailer park near Phoenix, Arizona.
People from all over the world make Pioneer RV Park their seasonal home. They hail from Utah, Idaho, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and most every other state, as well as Canada and Europe. Like Beckstead's grandparents, most of them are retired. During their nine-to-five existences they were construction workers and police officers, teachers and engineers, horse breeders and housewives. Most of them were part of the backbone under America's blue collar. Their children are grown, their careers complete, and they just want a break in the clouds and some peace to enjoy it.
In the land of Trailer Park Blues, the women spend their days shopping at WalMart, making crafts, or watching soap operas. The men ride motorcycles in the desert, drink a lot of Milwaukee's Best, and avoid their wives.
But for the Heiners-and probably for most retirees below the surface-retirement is more complicated than that. For most of their lives, there was a list of reasons to stay together - kids to raise, bills to pay. Now, all they have is each other, and the promise they made to stay together.
Produced by 4SP Films and KUED-Channel 7 in association with ITVS, Trailer Park Blues is an examination of love, commitment and retirement in blue-collar America.
Trailer Park Blues is one man's journey into his grandparents' relationship, to see if it's "as good as it gets," and whether that's enough. Shot in an intimate, cinema verite style, it's the story of an American couple who stayed together in spite of themselves. The film uses everyday occurrences from their lives and conversational interviews with their filmmaker grandson to explore the fabric of a marriage-for better and worse-that lasted 50 years.
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