You would have thought that this woman who was carrying everything she owned on her back would have been of more interest to the organizers of Saturday’s “Occupy Lake Worth” protest. SHe could be the poster child for the inequities of our society. The lines on her face told the story of years, maybe decades, on the street. I had seen her before in Bryant Park…back in August. We talked briefly then, and more this meeting. She told me that the pastor of a nearby church let her sleep there. When I saw her in August she was on her way to the park restroom which she used as her personal place to get cleaned up and change clothing. Until Saturday, she didn’t know they were holding a rally in her “backyard.” She tried to speak to the girl in the lavender shirt who was one of the organizers of the event, but the girl was too busy with organizing to pay much attention to the frail old lady.
She told me about a Lake Worth nursing home where she would like to live. When I told her that most people hated the thought of a nursing home she said, “At least I’d have a roof over my head. It’s not good to be outside all the time.” Then she told me about some other people she knew who were able to get into the nursing home. They had had some medical problems. She had heard they were well taken care of and that the food was pretty good there. Later, she asked me if it was true that Rocky had been shot. I don’t live in Lake Worth so I am not up on all the local gossip. I didn’t have a clue who “Rocky” was. As it turned out, Rocky had owned the Pegasus restaurant. We reminisced over the days when the Pegasus Greek restaurant was Holiday House. They served great prime rib then. She said she used to wash dishes at Pegasus before her legs got bad. Now she can’t stand for long. She said his three sons took it over. They called them the “little Rocky’s.” That must be old news because as far as I know, Indians own the place now.
I found it ironic that in the midst of several hundred people, some who carried signs saying “Tax the 1%” or “Pay Your Fair Share”, the woman was totally ignored. Here was a crowd of people protesting the widening gulf between the classes, and this one woman had fallen through the cracks. Was it because she was from a generation where people learned to play the hand they were dealt? Or maybe she was just too far down the ladder to help herself and could only rely on social services, therefore beyond the objectives of the rally. The absurd irony of the morning reached a new level toward the end of the rally when a beautiful, stylishly dressed young woman arrived carrying a sign. One side read “HOME LESS” and the other said “GMAC Stole my home for the price of a designer handbag!” I wondered if the one on her shoulder was the handbag she was referring to. While I sympathized with whatever plight the young woman was facing I thought to myself, “I hope you never really know homeless.”
local advocacy group: The Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County
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