The Rockford Walker

Ralph Kimball died. I didn’t know him. Not many people did, I’ll guess. But if you talk to anyone who drives Fortysecondavenuerockfordroadcountynine the multinamed street that is directly on the other side of the cemetery from me, and mention the homeless guy with the long beard and the fedora, they’d know who you were talking about. He’s been patrolling that road since before we came to the nieghborhood, sometimes pushing a shopping cart, wearing a heavy coat on steamy summer days. I guess he lived in a lean-to over by the Crystal Shopping Center. His sister said in the paper that he had enough money to find a place to live, but he just didn’t want to spend it. He had a few misdemeanors for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, but was known to be harmless. He died of liver disease.

I have a theory about Minnesota winters. People talk about the strong work ethic here and in the Dakotas. I think it’s kind of a Darwinian thing. That sleeping on a park bench thing just doesn’t cut it in January around here. In order to survive you have to make a certain amount of effort, shelter is not optional. And sadly every year people freeze to death in the Twin Cities. But Ralph had been living behind the Golden Wash for at least twenty years. How did he survive? He must have been a resourceful guy. Here’s to ya’, Ralph. Our community is diminished.

Lucia comes home from school today, we’re going to the Gopher Women’s game tonight. I talked to her yesterday, she seems kind of burned out. First semester Freshman year and still making adjustments. Also, one of ther best freind’s Father suddenly is having by-pass surgery. She’s pretty empathetic, so that’s troubling her, I’ll guess. This is probably a good time for some R and R.

9 thoughts on “The Rockford Walker

  1. I see my son in that endoffirstsemesteroffirstyear struggle too. I think there’s so little preparation in high schools for what college is like, mixed with the high expectations they bring. But it’s also being away and all that. Have a great time with her.

    Nice tribute to Ralph. Communities are made up of a wide range of people who contribute in thousands of unappreciated ways.

  2. That sucks about the homeless guy.  Having spent exactly two weeks during one of the coldest winters in MN, I agree he must have been pretty resourceful to make it through the winter.
    Poor Lucia, I have exactly no fond memories of my freshmen semester in college.  None. whatsoever.

  3. Wow.

    I miss this place.  I’ve been gone awhile. 

    What a tug that story about Ralph Kimball.

    You’ve got a big heart I think.  To be so conscientious (spelling?  suddenly that doesn’t look right) about him. 

    Like Father, like daughter.  Her empathy. 

    Go get some R & R.


  4. Hi. Came to your site from thenarrator.

    Ralph Kimball probably didn’t receive a lot of tributes in life or death. How kind of you to remind us that even though he was different, in some ways he was quite remarkable.

    Enjoy your time with your daughter.

  5. I often wonder about anonymous people.  How and why and who once loved them, or who still does, and if anyone is wondering where they are, and god, that could be me, or someone I know, but for the grace of god…….and how would I feel if I couldn’t wash my hair, or yes, get warm in the winter.  Nice that you shared him with us. 

    Have a great weekend.  Enjoy.

  6. Some of the homeless I’ve know were the most colorful and interesting people I’ve ever met. I always felt it was a shame when they ran out of time. 

  7. Way back when, I did an obit on a homeless guy/fixture downtown, and I was stunned by how many people knew this guy and talked to me about the story.

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