PEOPLE Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Familiar faces from your favorite intersections.

Our reaction to street corner beggars is inevitably a mix of sympathy and suspicion. Poor person, might be the first thought, instantaneously followed by, What’s the scam ? Beggarsmayhave been with us forever (the first Biblical reference is some 3,020 years ago) but the latest crop seems to have blossomed out of nowhere to populate every busy intersection in town. Business-if it can be called that-must be good to encourage long hours in the blazing Texas sun. Or is it? And where did these folks come from? To find out, we randomly interviewed denizens of the more popular spots. Our subjects turned out to be good-humored, truly down on their luck, and relatively honest about their personal histories, if somewhat vague on matters of finance. We wouldn’t say that they appeared totally normal, but then we’re not so normal ourselves. On getting to know them, we liked them. We even began to admire them. And we also admired John Wang of Our Custom Tailor Harvard Clothier. Seeing D’s photographer set up for his shoot of Terry Flint, John wandered out and hung around while we talked. When John heard Terry’s story, he took him back into his shop and outfitted him with a new suit, dress shirt, tie, shoes, and socks so that Terry could be properly attired for a coming job interview;

Few of us are John Wangs. But at the next endless red light, confronted with the ubiquitous cardboard sign, we’ll be a lot more likely to smile and give a friendly wave. It may not be a new suit, but our subjects assured us it’s as good as gold any day.

Name: Richard Ray Thomas

Age: 55

Bora: Paris, Arkansas. Raised on Indian reservation

Last job held: Affiliated Freezer, December 1994

Reason unemployed: quit because he kept getting a four-hour ticket at labor pool; wanted 12-16 hour ticket

Corner: Knox-Henderson and Central

Daily take: $35- $40

Name: Melanie Pennington

Age: 40

Bom: Dallas

Last job held: house cleaning business, 1994

Reason unemployed: was staying in a friend’s house, using his car and phone. When he was released from prison, she had to leave

Corner Royal and Stemmons

Daily take: $10

Name: Terry Flint

Age: 42

Born: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Last job held: car salesman, December 1993

Reason unemployed: fight with management. Then went to school on government funding to study computers, but was evicted for letting homeless people stay with him

Corner Abrams and Skillman

Daity take: $15

Name: Clarence Homer

Age: 53

Born: Wichita, Kansas

Last job held: Holiday Flowers, April 1995

Reason unemployed: tired of the runaround

Corner Knox- Henderson, Central, some times Haskell

Daily take: $20

Name: Kelly Barnett

Age: 37

Born: Heber Springs, Arkansas

Last job held: Rodeo bull rider, 1993

Reason unemployed: lost both legs after being run over by a train

Corner Industrial and R. L. Thornton

Daily lake: prefers not to say

Name: Ray D. Edwards

Age: 44

Bom: Dallas

Last job held: janitor for contractor at Republic Bank, 1993

Reason unemployed: would not say

Comer: Lower Greenville

Daily take: will only say that “God does blesseth me through the people”

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