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Matt Weinstock

May 17, 2007 |  5:05 pm

Matt_weinstockd May 17, 1957

Anyone who does any downtown strolling can't help noticing the parade of shabby gentlemen lost in misfortune and alcoholism.

Most of them are obviously drifting aimlessly and hopelessly.

But many of them, beneath their ragged clothes, are bright fellows who, despite having taken a wrong turn somewhere, have retained their old sparkle. This select group is distinguished by a sharp awareness of the score and their own plight.

Not long ago one of them wrote in with some pertinent, if cynical, remarks about the desperate ironies of Skid Road. His return address, when I tried vainly to reach him, was the Midnight Mission.

Now, another writes:

"Mr. D.L. Tremens lurks alongside of me, although I thought I had dropped him when I lost the bottle on El Capitan in 1951. One of these days, without duress and inspired only by a drink, which I usually need, I will tell you about my many encounters titled 'Citizens Versus Panhandler,' 'Taxpayer Versus Intellectual Inferior' or 'How I Got the Money,' and other little things with which I often regale the few persons with whom I am acquainted on the Sordid Road to Oblivion or Who's Got the 23 Cents?"

Pure poetry.

His return address proved to be the Union Rescue Mission, and he wasn't there any more.