It's summer. And in this uncommonly cool summer, a night under the stars is almost an inviting prospect, even if your bed is a slab of concrete in the lee of an overpass, a park bench or a doorway.
But it will be winter soon enough. And, when it comes, will Little Rock be any closer to a permanent solution for a day center to feed and provide other help to the city's homeless?
In the comfort of a nice home, dry and too-well-fed, I have been troubled by this thought since late last week, when a web link about a person I once knew dropped into my e-mail inbox. He died almost three years ago.
A former Arkansas newspaper reporter is the subject of this story. I knew him because I inherited his desk, stuffed with notes of his pursuit of crooked cops and his country song lyrics, when I went to work in Little Rock in 1973. I knew him also as a huddled, gruff presence in an alley shelter favored by transients near Second and Main. And then, several years ago, he was gone. Now I know the rest of the story. (The link isn't fiction. This link takes you to a reprint of news coverage of his death, unremarked, as best I can tell from a web search, in his home state.)
This is not just Joe's story. You need not have known him to see that this is our story, from Los Angeles to Little Rock, even if Joe's chapter ended in Birmingham.
Some people have been saying lately -- occasionally angrily -- that we cannot spend more on health care, even to reach the ailing and lost. Yes we can.