“My grandfather was born in 1902, I was born in 1963,” he told me while gazing into the distance. His eyes were fogged over as if he had cataracts. “You’re good with dates,” I told him. “Yea, my mom was born in 1932… My dad was 1922,” he continued as if he wanted to show me he remembered more dates that were floating through his head.
I handed him a new coat as the nights had been dropping into the sixties and he quickly placed it under his legs as if to hide it from passerby’s. “Thank you, thank you sir,” he responded.
The coat, along with his new pants and shirts, were given to me by a friend named Amy Morris. I always love handing out items like that, which are new, as I know most never give those who live on the streets brand new clothes. They always cherish them knowing that the coat, pants or whatever it maybe are theirs from the start - it was meant for them.
I asked, “What were your best times growing up in Memphis?” He sat quietly and then said, “Best times were 18, 18 and younger when with mom.” I asked if his mother was still alive and he said, “Think so, think so – I not seen her.” His mother is Ms. Remell Williams and he knew her exact age, “She 85.”
Darrell was on medication for Schizophrenia, but he ran out. He has been off the medication for a number of days if not weeks. “I’m gonna meet Mr. (mumbled name) at the mission. He’s a good man. He's off today, he is with his family on Saturday and Sunday – he gonna help me,” suggesting that Monday he would see this helper at the mission.
“I went to 12th grade, I was in high school,” he proudly stated. I asked if he graduated high school and he said, “Yea, I done 12th grade.”
Darrell attended Central High School in Midtown. The school was built in 1911 and he attended the school from 1977 to 1981. It is the same school that was once attended by the late Kemmons Wilson who founded the Holiday Inn in 1952. Mr. Kemmons built the first hotel at 4925 Summer Avenue in Memphis and now a plaque remains in its location as it was torn down in the late 1990s. The chain now has 1,145 locations.
“My own success was attended by quite a few failures along the way. But, I refused to make the biggest mistake of all: worrying too much about making mistakes.” - Kemmons Wilson (1913-2003)