Saturday, September 17, 2016

boyhood sketch 20. BUM IN THE BOX

Behind the buildings that front along St. Paul Street, were messy looking lots for parking and garbage bins and storage. Further behind, the forested hillsides led down to the old canal. Vagrants, hobos we called them, street people as we know them today, lived back there, among the bushes, under the stilt building additions, and anywhere else that provided shelter. On one of our foraging, exploration days, we came behind a store where there was a large rectangular wooden box with a wooden cover. It measured approximately eight feet long by four feet high and three feet deep. Much like a casket but larger. More ominous. We heard sounds inside the box. That fascinated us. We were talking to each other as kids do, excited and scared. An animal might be inside, but what kind of animal. We wanted to find out. I approached, ready to open the lid. Suddenly the lid " went up and a man sat up inside the box. We could see that he was sitting on blankets and clothing. He had an open can of beans in one hand and a spoon in the other. He said, "Do you want some beans." We were startled and said, "no thanks." We asked, "Do you live in there?” Dressed in a heavy wool overcoat and toque, he said, "Yep. It's cozy.” We used to refer to these guys as bums, hobos, rubbydubs. Never after that. I had a new respect for these people. Survivors they were. 

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