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This mans story is a sad one, but I'll post it if you want to read.
One day I was waiting for my sister to finish up her work in the archives at Balboa Park. I wandered around in the early morning light with my camera and good intentions to get some architectural shots that my portfolio lacks. I walked a while taking shots of monotonous buildings and statues, but I was getting bored. I needed a cigarette. I headed over to the Organ Pavilion and lit up my Camel 99. I was putting my camera away when out of the corner of my eye I saw a man listening to the radio behind the amphitheater stage. I smiled and waved, and when he returned the notion, I decided to sit with him.
I don't know how long we had chatted about the weather and the Chargers before the conversation took a turn in to serious depth, but somewhere in the haze of the 2 hour talk, I had learned the basic outline of his life story.
He was raised on a small farm in the south. His grandfather had passed when he was 12 years old, and after that he spent most of his time not in school, but helping his family with farm work. He grew up alright though, and eventually became deeply involved in the counter culture movement of the 60's. After a few years he had married and had 2 sons. He and his wife decided to have one last adventure before settling down to raise the boys. They went to Woodstock and he told me it was one of the best times of his life. He didn't have much time to bask in the hippie glow, though. When he returned to his home and his son, there was a draft letter waiting for him. He served his time without argument and watched most of his friends die around him. When he was finally sent home, there was more bad news. A week before his return, his wife and sons had been in a fatal accident. He had officially lost everything, and he didn't know how to handle that. He sold his home and most of his belongings and bought an RV. He roamed the country for years, meeting new people, drinking, and smoking hand rolled cigarettes. A few months before I'd met him, his RV had been impounded. He now lives in a tent right off the freeway in San Diego.
I smoked one last cigarette with him before my sister called to say we had to leave. I left him with a hug and a sincere "hope to see you again". As I was turning to leave he asked me to take his picture. I haven't seen him since.
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