I grew up in the Quad cities, East Moline in Illinois. I came out to Springfield, MO because the Quad cities went downhill. Rock Island Line, John Deere pulled out, Case - a lot of companies went to heck in the late 80’s, early 90’s. So me and a friend of mine, we’d been fishing down here, so we weren’t doing nothing else, so we just moved down here. He ended up going back and I stayed in Warsaw from ’90 until last year.
The hardest part of being out in the streets is the cold. And, you know, you ain’t never get no respect. You never get no respect out of a lot of people; they look down their nose at you because you got a backpack, walking down the road. They don’t know me - why should they judge me? I mean, but, that’s the way life is nowadays. They don’t give nobody a chance first. It’s judge first, ask later.
I myself have only been homeless for six months. Danny and Chuck turned out to be good friends. They have helped me find some resources, some I’ve found on my own. I can’t rely on them, you know. But no, I’m very appreciative of them. They did help me when I first come down here, got started out on the streets. The longer you stay on the streets, the more you find out about them, you know. They told me where to get in out of the cold, you know, and then from then on it’s listen and pay attention.
A broken heart led to my being homeless. I was married for twenty years. I lost my wife and I just haven’t got over it. People pushing “Oh it shouldn’t be that way”… how do you know how my heart feels? I know they’re trying, but still, no matter how much they tell me, it ain’t what in my heart right yet. So, I just got fed up with it all and said “Here, kids, take everything, and I’m on the road.” I’ll call them ever once in awhile, and when they start harping I’ll say “okay, I’ll talk to you next time I call you”. It’s that simple.
Oh I had everything at one time. I mean, I had the camper in the front yard. The house, the two trucks, the whole nine yards. My advice is, you just have to go by your heart. What it tells you, do it. I’m happier now on the street than I was sitting in my house, being lonely. I mean, don’t think you gotta keep up with the Joneses. That’s something I learned a long time ago, though. And a lot of people do. They think they have to keep up with the Joneses. It breaks my heart that they look down on me because I have a backpack instead of a Mercedes. I mean, I’m still me. I’m my own person. I’m not no copycat. We all have a story. Everyone of us has our own story. Some good, some bad. The street’s my therapy right at the moment. It’s working for me right now.
Yeah, we got a camp cat and birds. I took a square cheese plastic jug and made a bird feeder. I hung it in the tree and we feed the birds. We’ve got the camp, we’ve got the cat, so , I mean - we’re set. We don’t have electricity, and sleeping bags are our heaters, I mean we survive, we’re alive. We still smile. I mean, I’m beyond thinking the world owes me something. I never thought the world owed me something. You know, I’m happy. As happy as I can be for right now. Until I figure out which way I want to go. And I don’t know yet.
(Story chronicled in 2016)