Does anyone recognize the scene in this photo from the Democrat-Gazette archives? Hint: The year was 2002.
That January, the last disassembled section of America's most famous mobile home sat behind the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, waiting to be towed off to storage.
It was one of three parts of a 2,131-square-foot structure with three bedrooms, two living areas, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a fireplace. Then-Gov. Mike Huckabee, his wife and three college-age children lived there for 16 months, while contractors replaced 50-year-old plumbing and wiring in the red-brick, Georgian-style mansion.
Janet Huckabee insisted the family's temporary housing was "a multisection manufactured home," but pundits and the public quickly nicknamed it "the triple-wide."
Champion Homebuilders of Ridgeville, Ind., donated the $110,000 triple-wide, which was hauled to Arkansas in August 2000, in three 70-foot sections, from Ridgeville. Jokes ran ahead of its arrival.
For instance, Arkansas House Speaker-designate Shane Broadway of Bryant apologized to his fellow Democrats for arriving late to the party convention: "We got stuck behind the Governor's Mansion on Interstate 30."
"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno pretended he had video of the couple at home, but the footage showed a rattletrap structure reminiscent of the opening montage from "The Beverly Hillbillies."
The next day, in a 10-minute appearance via satellite, the Huckabees sparred with Leno, who suggested hillbilly Arkansas voters resented the choice of a "double-wide" as putting on airs. "It's a triple-wide," Huckabee said, "it's actually large enough that we can get you and your chin in the whole thing here."
Leno quipped that the mobile home had "plenty of room for dogs under that porch." And just then the Huckabees' black Labrador retriever, Jet, emerged from below the triple-wide, which had yet to be anchored to its concrete footing.
After Leno referred several times to the "double-wide trailer," Janet Huckabee corrected him: "Jay, it's not a trailer. It's a multisection manufactured home."
"A multisection manufactured home? Boy, you are politicians," Leno responded.
Leno asked, "What's the worst part about living in a trailer?"
Huckabee said, "If the voters don't like you, they can always just have you towed away."
In April 2002, the Arkansas Governor's Mansion Association gave the triple-wide to the Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches for use at its DeGray Lake campus in Clark County.