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Ohio, United States
Happily married for lots of years to great guy, mother of one wonderful daughter. I have lots of interests and wished I had more time to explore them all.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Jack Otis Classmate, Jack Otis Homeless

Meet my fellow classmate and friend, Jack Otis. By the hair style you might be able to guess the photo is from the sixty's. 1969 was the graduating year to be exact. Look at that infectious smile and twinkle in his eyes. Now for younger folks, seeing this picture -- you might be shocked to see someone dressed for their senior picture. Being barefoot, in casual clothes, outside leaning on a tree or sitting with the family pet was never ever done! The men always wore coats and ties.  Your picture couldn't be put in the year book otherwise.

Jack and I graduated from Whetstone High School back in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. Unlike most of my classmates I didn't know Jack for eons and eons. We didn't attend grade school and junior high together.  His family didn't live in the same neighborhood forever, like so many of us. In fact, very little is known about Jack's family. Jack lived with his Dad. None of us knew anything about his mother, except that she wasn't around. Those who knew his home life, remembered his Dad as not being a particularly stable person. Jack was new to our school, he came from someplace in Kentucky. Some classmates believe he moved around a lot.

During those high school years, classmates remember Jack as fun to be with, perhaps even a bit on the wilder side. He was full of life, a bit ornery. Not wild as in bad, but not a mild quiet, stay to oneself type of person. He liked to drink PBR (translation for the younger set, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer). I should also add that drinking at age 18 was legal back in our day. We had what was called low beer, 3.2 and those 18-19 and 20 could drink that, but you had to be 21 to drink hard liquor and or high beer...high beer is the beer that's out now days. 3.2 no longer exists.

Jack like to drive around on old trails in his Bugged Eyed Sprite (sports car). He was chosen to be Nancy Edgars' escort for The Home Coming Court. That was a big deal, back in the day. Jack was popular folks. He was well liked, he was good looking guy...which you can clearly see from his picture.

 He died in the year 2000, alone and penny-less. He died homeless in the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona. He lived in a hobo camp outside the city limits and is buried in a small paupers grave in Pima County, Arizona. That area set aside in the cemetery for those without family, those who are indigent, those who have no means of another burial.  He was 49 years young.  I was heart broken when I pieced together his story, as were many of my classmates.  Searching for classmates for a class reunion is how this sad story came to light.  I was contacted by an old friend of his who shared that he had been working in North Central Wyoming in 1981 as a doodlebugger on seismic crews drilling for oil on ranches.  He went from there to Colorado and worked, but after that they lost touch.  I don't know or when he ended up in Arizona, or when he started riding the rails.

What happened to make this smiling good looking young man die alone and homeless? We know he chose to travel some after graduation, and for a short while, we know a fellow classmate gave him lodging in Tucson. That didn't last long, as Jack returned to the hobo camp and died sometime later.  This is the sad face of homelessness folks. I'm willing to bet you all have someone in your past with a similar story. He was someone's son. He was a friend. It makes me sad to know he's buried in a pauper's grave. The reality that truly anyone can be homeless is a sobering fact.

There are many causes of homelessness, but regardless of circumstances they are people, they are someone's son or daughter, they are someone's friend.  We must lend a hand.  So, for all the Jacks in the world I ask.......can you help?

All donations regardless of size and number are valued. All donations are appreciated. The Power of One is awesome, and when we work together The Power of One becomes The Power of Many.

18 comments:

  1. I remember when you told his story a long time ago. Thank you for retelling it. There are a lot more people here that don't know his story. Putting a face and a name to a person with a story like Jack's, certainly makes it real. It can happen to anyone. Putting my knitting needles to work today. Thanks Sandy! :)

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    1. Right you are Bunny, putting a face to it, makes homelessness come alive and seem more real. It's a sad story and I thought, like you, worth retailing with new folks here not having read it before. Thank you for putting your knitting needles to work for all the Jacks out there.

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  2. What a heart-breaking story! To know his background makes it all the more poignant. There's a tendency to forget that homeless people have real stories to tell.

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    1. It is indeed a heart breaking story. I think it's important to impress on people how truly this can happen to anyone, for people to want to help they need something they can relate to.

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  3. Our good friend and very loyal supporter, Marjoire M in Minnesota sent an email telling me she hadn't been able to leave a message, she read the story and offered her sweet condolences for Jack et al, and as she always so graciously does blessing the homeless. Thank you Marjorie

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  4. Breaks my heart to see this happen to people. Some start out with so many resources and a supportive community, only to end up destitute. Nice way of honoring your friend.

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    1. Not enough resources, I guess for some Stephen. You just don't know, thing like this will be forever a mysery to me.

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  5. That is a sad story, so young when he passed. You wonder how some manage to get off the streets and others don't and end up dying on them.

    betty

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    1. You really do wonder, we want so badly to make sense of things and sometimes you just can't.

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  6. It is all so sad, and sometimes we just cant figure it out. Breaks my heart.

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  7. This is truly a sad story. When someone has no one who will bury them... that's really, trully loneliness. No one should come to that point.

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    1. Sarah, true loneliness...you've really hit it. Thank you for the visit.

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  8. There are so many cases like this. One wonders if he had, what I like to say, Brain problems (instead of mental problems since there is such a stigma attached to the word mental. The brain is an organ just like the heart or kidney). It is very sad. Bobbie Driscoll, a Disney Star from "Song of the South", who received a special juvenile Oscar, died homeless in 1968. No one even knew who he was and was buried in a pauper's grave. So many stories out there

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  9. Yes, he looked so bright- who knows what life has in store for us. Good job there are people like you take care in a practical way

    zannierose A-Z repeat visitor
    xx

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  10. Such a tragic story. So glad to know that good folks still exist.

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  11. So very sad. What a good looking boy he was...though looks have nothing to do with it.

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  12. This is a very sad situation. For someone so beautiful to have lost his way. I am glad you went more in depth with your story this time. I wanted to know him better. Its too bad he couldn't have been brought back here for burial. It is people like Jack that makes me want to help the homeless. Sherry K

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