A Man Called Country

I came by these two gentlemen this morning while I was downtown. They actually called out to me and waved me over because they wanted to know what I was up to. I told them I was a photographer and that I was walking around taking photos. They told me they were just hanging out on the corner enjoying the morning and hoping to get some food. The man in the wheelchair was the obvious leader of the two and was quite talkative and very charismatic. I asked him if I could take his photo and he said, “Sure, man, you can take my photo - and while you do, let me tell you my story.” So, I proceeded to sit down right there in front of him and listened while he told me his life story. While I was randomly snapping photos he told me about growing up in Memphis, Tennessee and that his mom was murdered when he was fifteen. He said he had 6 brothers and sisters and tried to raise them all until he lost the house they lived in. He told me about several different times he ended up in prison and talked about some of the famous people he served time with while at Leavenworth Penitentiary. He told me about being homeless for a long time before turning his life around. He said he was doing much better since moving to Phoenix four years ago and that he and his buddy had just moved into an apartment down the street. He talked for a good ten to fifteen minutes or so and I just listened while taking a photo here and there. When I got up to leave I told him thank you for the story and the photos and asked him what his name was. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite hear what he said but I think he said Kenny or Carl or Kevin - I’m not quite sure - but then he said, “Everyone calls me Country… so call me Country.”

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