Monday, December 23, 2013

Humboldt Housepoor Holiday Stories from the HUMBOLDT EDGE. Thanks to Deidre Pike.

The Humboldt Edge is a street newspaper about people living on the street. Their December edition brings to reality and humanizes some locals during the holidays.

A gory gash over Martha's nose looks like it needed — but didn't get — stitches. "It's too late for that," her husband George says.

He describes how, the previous night, another woman living in the homeless encampment by the Humboldt Bay smashed her fist into Martha's face. George says he thinks the assaulter was holding some heavy object like a bottle or stick. "She definitely had a weapon."

George and Martha have no phone to call police. They might have been able to ride their bicycles to the emergency room - but not in the dark. "Riding at night is suicide " George says. "You might as well lay down in the middle of the street."

Martha applied antibiotic ointment. She and her partner of 31 years, George, headed to the emergency room the next day.

Martha, born on the North Coast, doesn't want to be photographed and doesn't want her real first name used. Camping out by the Bay isn't safe, she says. Retribution isn't out of the question.

"It's dangerous down there," George adds. "A lot of people do drugs and stuff, methamphetamine. If you don't do drugs, you're an easy target."

"You're not in their clique," Martha interjects.

What about law enforcement?

"Police are always down there but that obviously doesn't stop anything," George says.

To survive on the streets, George says, it's important to keep priorities straight.

"We believe in hygiene," he says. "We take care of our bikes. We take care of our feet. If your feet are sick, you're sick. You aren't going to survive. “

They stay away from drugs.

"We're in our 50s so we're old enough to know better," George says.

The couple doesn't always live in Eureka. They spent some time in Oregon with George's mother before she died last month. But they always come back.

"There's a lot of nice people here," George says.

"And there's also a lot of gangsters trying to rob people for two or three dollars or threaten you with a knife for a bag of recyclables."

He shrugs."It is what it is. This is the real deal when you live on the street."
George and Martha's holiday dream is to find a more secure place to stay."Somewhere safer," Martha says. "I don't care about the weather."

Near Safeway in Arcata, Star Constantine's holding a sign: "It's my 21st birthday."

A person walks up and hands her a dollar.

"Thanks!" she says cheerily. Her red hair's pulled back. She's bundled up in a blue jacket and Carhartts with embroidered hearts. Constantine's husband waits nearby with the couple's greyhound-Great Dane puppy. For the coming holidays, Constantine hopes to get food to - make her own holiday meal with friends.

"I'd like to do something for the kids," she says, referring to travelers staying in Arcata. In June, Constantine and her husband rode from Pennsylvania across the nation with a group of people. "Seven people and three dogs!" she says. The ride stopped in Arcata.
Since then, Constantine has explored the West Coast by hitchhiking, making short trips to Crescent City and to Mount Shasta. She'd like to stay.

In Pennsylvania, Constantine was a certified nursing assistant. When she gets on her feet here, she'll transfer her credentials, she says, and find work.

For now, the couple is couch- surfing and camping at Clam Beach. Constantine makes and sells beaded jewelry.

"Arcata is a wonderful place,"
About 25 people are in line for dinner at Betty Chinn's mobile dining truck on a weekday afternoon. One woman doesn't want to be interviewed about the holidays. She says she won't be with her children and that hurts. She cries. Other women gather around her, offering hugs and kind words.

Lea, 46, sits under a tree with an open 40-ounce Miller and a paperback novel. She calls the novel ii ash. "Just something to read." Because of the beer, she can't get in line for food.

Lea came to Eureka from Colorado Springs in September. She likes Eureka. The weather's better - no snow. "There'd be five inches or so by now in Colorado Springs," she says. "I'd rather deal with the rain."

For the most part, she expects holidays to be like any other day. "1 panhandle and make a little money, buy a couple of beers," she says. "I smoke a little pot. I drink. I read books. That's what 1 do."
Mike Wynn, 47, wants groceries for the holidays. Wynn moved to Arcata for a construction job more than a decade ago. He says he's worked on building projects including the baseball stadium and the Arcata Transit Center. He has children. His oldest daughter must be 30 by now.

"1 probably wouldn't be outside if I was in touch with them, to be honest," he says.
Wynn leans on a cane holding an unlit cigarette and “Any Help” written in marker on a cardboard sign. A man walks over and hands him a dollar.

"God bless," Wynn says.

Wynn can do odd jobs if he doesn't have to walk too far or climb a ladder. He was shot in the leg

four years ago after a disagreement, he says. He can walk about 25 feet without the cane.

"I'm a good mechanic, too," he says. "But I don't have any tools."

Wynn says he's enlisted the help of a lawyer to get his disability checks.

For now, he's making do.

"This is where I get my groceries from," he says, nodding to his cardboard sign.

Wynn has heard of a food pantry in Arcata but doesn't know where to find it. He may attend a Christmas dinner but not if it's held at the Veteran's Hall. He doesn't like the building.

"Holidays are all right," he says. "I'll probably see if a church is doing something."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December NCRA meeting. Merry X-Mas.

This month the NCRA met in Marin County at Novato. We received an update on the status of a suit by the City of Novato against the NCRA. 99% of issues have been rectified and freight service is ongoing into Sonoma County. Updates were given on NCRA properties at Ukiah Depot and hopefully full clean up and sale is in the near future.

North Western Pacific Co. Operator John Williams reported Barley was successfully trained from Alberta Canada to Petaluma and will be ongoing now. Mr. Williams shared pictures of the 195' wooden bridge being replaced in 10 days with concrete. Right on time. NWPco turnout problems still being addressed by SMART.

Two pending litigation actions were subjects in closed session. One is the Friends of the Eel River vs. NCRA and the other Citizens Against Toxic Substances vs. NCRA. Sorry, can't divulge anymore on those items yet.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Back to Weekly (Weakly) Wieners report. DJ's in Rio Dell.

Steve and I made a trip to Rio Dell to DJ’s Burger Bar to review the Hot Dogs they serve. They are located at 509 Wildwood Ave. It is worth the drive for an out of the way but not too far dining experience.  

1. Hot Dog-Dog itself kind of bland. Steve had a polish dog that he raved about. Grilled and with everything he wanted.  I again had a chili dog and it had homemade hearty chili and cheese! I had a foot long with a nice bun and it was way filling and good meal. Rating: 4 out of 5

2. Condiments-They serve at your pleasure. Rating: 3.5 out of 5

3. Ambiance-Very Christmassy and 50’s oriented. Small but comfortable. Outdoor seating available. Rating: 3.5 out of 5

4. Extras- Another Hamburger joint that just so happens to serve Hot Dogs. Large menu and they do breakfast during the weekends. They serve fresh from potato fries. Rating: 4 out of 5

5. Parking-Best parking we have run into so far: 4 out of 5

Overall rating 4 out of 5