In an area that is called the Delta, he is homeless in Memphis, Tennessee. He told me that he and his girlfriend of 13 years sleep anywhere they can find.
On Monday, I found myself in the middle of nowhere in the Delta of Mississippi surrounded by cotton fields to my left and right. Out of nowhere, a crop dusting plane flew over my car. I followed the plane to where it landed and quickly made my way to the small country airport to speak to the pilot as he was refueling.
The first commercial crop-dusting plane was not a plane at all, it was instead a hot air balloon used to spread seed over a field of swampland in New Zealand. The balloon was tethered to the ground and moved from one side of the field to the other in 1906.
The idea of utilizing a plane in agriculture was born in 1921 by the U.S. Agriculture Department and the Army Signal Corps. A man by the name of John A. Macready piloted the first crop duster in 1921. I guess you could say the rest is history.
Living in the Delta of Mississippi is tough due to a lack of jobs that are currently available. Things that many of us in most cities could avoid like paying a simple fine can quickly equal headaches and sometimes jail time in the Delta.
This man lives in Indianola, Mississippi and was jailed for a speeding ticket and driving without a license as opposed to simply paying the fines. Due to a lack of income, he is working off the fines through the workhouse.
Mississippi Delta – Land Lost: The Mississippi Delta is a very different region of the country when compared to other areas.
After the Civil War, many areas were undeveloped, despite the well balanced land to grow a variety of crops on. Today, many of the Delta areas are still undeveloped and lack jobs, hospitals, education and more.
The Delta is comprised of a flat low lying land that sits between the Mississippi River and the Yazoo River. The land in between is 200 miles long and 70 miles wide at its widest point.
This resident has lived in the delta her entire life, since 1961.
Mississippi Delta – Land Lost: He was armed with a small sheep knife on his side when he came around the corner. The knife was not exposed, but on a strap around his shoulder as if to say that he means business.
“You need to leave now,” he growled at several men on his property behind a market that he has owned for about 30+ years. The men were sitting around on old milk crates that were previously stacked behind his store. The area in which they were sitting was once a car wash behind the market in Drew, Mississippi.
After the men walked away he told me in a tone that made me quickly realize he has grown tired of cleaning their mess, “They sit around and drink all day and litter my property (pointing at a pile of liquor bottles and beer cans).”
The men slowly walked away as if they knew the routine, once again leaving behind beer cans.
The poverty rate is 36.1% in Drew City, which is in Sunflower County, Mississippi. It is the 8th poorest county in the state. In Sunflower County, only 70.2% of adults 25 and older have a high school diploma or higher education. The per capita income over the past 12 months stands at a low $12,177 in Sunflower County.
What does poverty look like to you?
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” ― Mother Teresa, A Simple Path: Mother Teresa
His skin was leathery and his hair thick. His eyes were like fog in the morning, covered in haze. His words were few.
I often wonder how many end up on the streets after a broken heart, perhaps because of something they did to their significant other while in a relationship? Once on the street, do they experience the social pains of being unlike those around them or made fun of by passing motorist?
Naomi Eisenberger of the University of Califiornia-Los Angeles wrote about the hurt in what she called social pain in a magazine titled "Current Directions in Psychological Science." She wrote, “Rejection is such a powerful experience for people." Her research found that brain activity in people with real physical pain was very similar to the brain images of someone who had experienced social rejection.
But why? “I think it’s probably there for a reason—to keep us connected to others,” she says.
“Neon shines through smoky eyes tonight
It’s 2 am - I’m drunk again it’s heavy on my mind
I could never love again so much as I love you
Where you end where I begin is like a river going through
Take my eyes take my heart I need them no more
If never again they fall upon the one I so adore”
-Dave Matthews Band, Grace is Gone
His friends call him “Bald Head” and that was how he introduced himself to me. He told me that he made his way to Nashville several years ago by way of a boxcar. He once jumped onto moving trains to get him from point A to point B.
After I offered him some new clothes he said to me, “I take my weekly shower tomorrow, so now I’ll have something clean to wear!” As he picked out a couple of shirts he said, “Let me hop in the back of your truck, I’ll show you where lots of homeless are.”
Once he got in the truck bed we started to drive towards the J.C. Napier Housing Complex and he told me to stop for a homeless man he saw walking past the Greyhound Bus Station. Mr. Bald Head told me he wanted to give the man a shirt, but warned the individual not to be greedy because there were others that he wanted to help. The man carefully picked out one shirt and then asked Bald Head if he had any change. Bald Head pulled out his only dollar and handed it to the man.
We later arrived at his chosen destination and were met by about 10 to 15 homeless gentleman in front of a closed down business on Lafayette Street. His friends were almost cheering for him when he got out of the truck and handed them new shirts and bags of toiletries.
The J.C. Napier Housing Complex and the area around Lafayette Street is somewhat forgotten by many. I won’t say forgotten by all as I know some groups help out the less fortunate in that area, but others avoid it due to the high and somewhat uncontrollable crime that has occurred in that area over the past 15 years.
A recent Nashville crime map shows that in the past seven days, a total of 50 thefts, robberies, assaults, burglaries, vandalism’s or arrests have occurred within a one mile radius of the J.C. Napier Housing Complex.
Nashville Sounds, Greer Stadium: The Herschel Greer Stadium was built in 1978 for the Nashville Sounds. Many who grew up in and around Middle Tennessee have fond memories of games at the Nashville stadium. Hot dogs, cold beer and mustard covered pretzels are likely included in some of your memories.
The Nashville Sounds became a part of Nashville when Larry Schmittou decided he wanted to bring baseball back to Davidson County. In the 1970’s, Schmittou inked a deal with the City of Nashville for the plot of land below Fort Negley. The fort was a forgotten part of the American Civil War and had not been developed into a tourist stop until 2004, years after the construction of the baseball stadium.
Schmittou was born into baseball and even named after “Larry” Gilbert, manager of the Nashville Vols Minor League Baseball Team (1938-1948).
The Nashville native began his coaching career as a junior at Cohn High School, coaching for a youth baseball team of children who were 12 and under. After graduating from Peabody College (later merged with Vanderbilt), he became a teacher for the Nashville Public Schools and eventually moved on to become the head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team from 1968 to 1978.
Schmittou was also an entrepreneur. In the late 1970’s, he owned several minor league baseball teams, but the Music City was always in his heart as the Nashville Sounds was his very first minor league team.
As for the name of the Greer Stadium, it also has to do with Tennessee baseball history. The stadium was named after Herschel Lynn Greer, a Nashville businessman and the very first president of the Nashville Vols baseball team. Greer died in 1976, so the naming of the stadium came after his death.
In 2014 the stadium closed down as the Sounds moved to their newly built First Tennessee Park. The new park is built on the Sulphur Dell site, which was the original location of the Nashville Vols baseball team.
By the way, the original name of the Sulphur Dell ballpark was the Sulphur Springs Ball Park, named after a Sulphur spring near the site. The word “Spring” was eventually dropped and changed to “Dell” by a Nashville sportswriter, suggesting that “Dell” rhymed with more stuff in his unique sports stories.
On Lake Nicaragua, you will find small islands of huts adjacent to a small island with a mansion. It is quite interesting to venture into the polluted waters by boat. You will also find the remains of old buildings that were once high enough from the water’s edge when built, but were later flooded in storms. Fences still line the property that was once a habitat in some areas. On other islands, you will see monkeys jumping from tree to tree.
There have been many drownings in Lake Nicaragua and some believe that the lake is filled with spirits that pull swimmers to the bottom. Others talk about bull sharks that feast on swimmers. Of course, the bull sharks are real in the lake and not a fictitious legend.
Over the years, bull sharks from the ocean have made their way into the freshwater by swimming 120 miles up the Rio San Juan river from the Caribbean Sea. The sharks were first noticed in the mid 1500 chronicles of Spanish historian Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés.
In the past few years, Nicaragua has tightened security at their borders. The reason being, many are trying to make their way through the country in hopes of reaching the United States by way of Mexico. In doing so, there have been multiple attempts of persons making their way into the country by way of water travel from the ocean and into Lake Nicaragua. However, many of those immigrants from places like Africa and Haiti later drowned when their vessels capsized in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. In other words, they survived the warm Caribbean Sea, but died in the fresh water of Nicaragua. Some of the recent drownings that occurred in July of 2016 included eight men from Africa.
"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." -George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright (1856-1950)
A quiet place to sit in a big city of noise and music. Love Circle in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” ― Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper
I have seen a lot of people in pain and in the midst of suffering, but music seems to temporarily relieve their ailments in a way that can not be described.
Sometimes, I don't hear the music. But, they do. He hears the music and for that I am thankful.
"I say one good thing, one good thing
When it hits you feel no pain
One good thing about music
When it hits you feel no pain
So hit me with music
Hit me with music now"
-Bob Marley, Trenchtown Rock
“This was my mother’s car, she bought it new in 1974,” he told me. He then went on to state, “When I drive it, I leave the hood partially open to keep the engine cool.” As we continued to talk about the Cadillac, he told me that he has had many offers on it, but refuses to sell it.
His hair blew in the wind as he cussed at those who walked by. One woman flipped him off as she stumbled past him after what looked to be a day of drinking for her and a friend. Another woman nearly walked into the street to avoid close contact with him. It was as if they feared him like one would have feared the Bubonic Plague between the years of 1000 and 1352. During those years, 340 million people died of the plague (The Black Death).
However, I knew him and knew that he was not going to harm anyone. I walked up to him while sitting down and quietly asked, “How are you today?” He smiled, “I’m good, how are you?” His attitude changed drastically as we talked and he calmed down as if everything was perfectly fine.
“Have you seen your friend Kristin lately,” I asked him knowing that she talks to him whenever she is in town. “She was here a couple of weeks ago, but she moved away,” he told me. He then started talking about her and the pictures she took of him while under the bridge where he goes weekly for food and a warm meal thanks to the Nashville Bridge Ministry.
Kristin is one of the many volunteers who have helped to make The Bridge Ministry a success in Nashville, TN. Those who volunteer meet under the Jefferson Street Bridge on Tuesday evenings.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” - Mother Teresa
He had on clothes that appeared to be old and quite soiled. “Could you use some new clothes,” I asked. “Oh yes sir, I sure could, yes sir,” he responded with happiness.
“I was in the Air Force,” he told me. He then started to talk about being stationed in Idaho while in the Air Force, which would have been near the beautiful Sawtooth National Forest. “I loved Idaho,” he told me.
When I met him, he expected and asked for nothing. A warm smile and a handshake is what he gave me before I handed him new clothing that included a freshly pressed button up shirt.
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope, English Poet, (1688-1744)
Her prayers were growing more intense as the seconds passed by. She was outside of a church under the shelter of a bus stop that lacked seats, she was on her knees.
She is homeless and was praying for help or perhaps a different life.
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” -Meister Eckhart, German Theologian (1260-1328)
Nicaragua sits between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is a land filled with smiling faces mixed with oppression. This photo was shot in a busy market in Nicaragua.
Random street photography... I always enjoy photographing people. Something about it is interesting. I sometimes feel as if I am part of a great big sociology project. You know, like I am on the outside of the world looking in and just watching how people function in society. Yes, I am a bit weird.