3/01/2006

 

Rememberances of a One-Legged Man

I've written before about the stereotype of the homeless man carrying a sign and working a street corner or intersection picking up spare change, and I still hold that such a trope ill-serves the homeless. But lately, I seem to recall one exception to the rule. Several years ago, a homeless man with only one leg used to work the intersection of Eugene and Lee streets, one of the city's busiest intersections. I used to see him as I drove through the area on various errands. Sometimes, I'd give him whatever I could. It wasn't much; a dollar here, 50 cents there, whatever I could spare at the time. He was unlike all the other homeless at the time in that he had an obvious disability, and seemed to actually be using his panhandling as a viable source of income, rather than a way to beat the system or feed an addiction. That's why I'd go against my prejudices* and give him a lilttle something.

I realized I haven't seen him in a good while, at that intersection or any other. Granted, I ride the bus now, and you miss large sections of the city by doing so, but were he still around, surely, I'd've seen him by now, somewhere.


I like to think that his absence means he managed to get help somehow. I hope so.

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*What, you think I didn't harbor prejudices about the homeless? I'm not proud to admit it, but yeah, I did. Now that I'm on the flip side of the coin, I know for sure that I was just plain wrong. Should've realized it back then.

Comments:
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I remember a homeless one-legged man too. A christian at that. He had since past away a few years ago in Elizabeth City, NC. I remember a few of my classmates from the local Bible College went to his funeral to pay their respects. He taught us lessons that we'd never forget.
 
I hope that the opposite isn't true--that he just plain isn't with us anymore...
 
His name was McKinley and he died in 2004. Lorraine Ahearn wrote a column about his death in the News & Record. The original article in not accessible, but you should be able to pull it up from the cache (for a while anyway) here.
 
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