The closing of a trailer park meets the closing of Frank Adelmann's life


Adelmann's Lowry Grove trailer was his version of Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond cottage, says Nancy Gonzalez: "Frank looked at the way society buzzed around… and all of this vanity, vanity, vanity. He was like, 'What's the point?'"

A neighbor in St. Anthony did the introductions, but the universe brought Nancy Gonzalez and Frank Adelmann together. 

He was in the throes of middle age, living in his childhood home with his mom. She was happily wed, residing four houses away, battling clinical depression. She would share her struggles with Adelmann. 

"When I think back upon how this unusual friendship was born," says Gonzalez, "Frank had an ability to pick out people who were unusual and people who were hurting. That's the reason why I think we entered each other's life."

Gonzalez fast learned Adelmann was an old soul with old school manners. Before commencing what would be a nearly 20-year friendship, Adelmann sent Gonzalez's husband, George, a note. Would it be all right if he befriended Mrs. Gonzalez?

Adelmann often communicated via letters. His notes were addressed to "Mrs. Gonzalez." On the days they did meet, topics ranged from the difference between religion and spirituality, all things animals, and how Adelmann had taught himself to speak Arabic. 

When his mom passed away about 13 years ago, Adelmann used his share of the proceeds from the sale of the house to buy his own mobile home. The bad news for Gonzalez was that he was moving out of the neighborhood. The good news was he was relocating a short distance away to Lowry Grove, a mobile home park in St. Anthony.


Gonzalez believed Adelmann suffered from some form of mental illness. Earlier in life, he'd worked white collar jobs at two colleges. But with age, Adelmann had a harder and harder time staying employed, bouncing from job to job.  

His greatest contentment seemed to come from retreating within himself or spending hours at the St. Anthony library. He was the best-read person she'd ever known.

Adelmann also showed Gonzalez how he perfected how to simply live in the now, to listen, to innocently share connections of the heart.    

"He just took time for people," Gonzalez says. "He would listen a lot. In this world we live in where it's in such short supply, it stands out... He lived as close to a Christ-like life as anyone I've ever known."

This caused problems living in modern America. 

In recent years, Gonzalez didn't know Adelmann to work much at all. She, along with his sisters, gave him cash throughout the years.

"His ability to exist in the day-to-day world was not there," she says. 

An April 2016 letter first announced armageddon was coming to Lowry Grove's roughly 90 families, tenants who were paying about $450 a month to have a place to call home for their trailers. A developer had purchased the park, with plans to raze it and erect about 800 new apartments. The current residents would have to go.   

"When I asked him about what he was going to do," says Gonzalez, "he was always really vague and would change the subject. Frank made it sound like he had other arrangements. You didn't want to pry, and he made it sound like he had it under control. Which now we know… he had a plan." 

Just days prior to the deadline to vacate the park, Adelmann committed suicide in his trailer with a handgun. He was 59. 

Gonzalez inherited Adelmann's Bible, but it can't reveal his reasons for killing himself. Maybe it was simple desperation.      

"In this city we have an affordable housing crisis, and Frank is the canary in the coal mine," she says. "Where are people going to live? He was the fall-between-the-cracks kind of guy. People think, 'Just close trailer parks or low-rent apartments and the tenants, they'll just go away.' This is what can happen." 

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