I have been aware of and interacted with the homeless, street people and hobos in Amarillo since the mid-1960s. The hobos who used to camp out under and near the Line Street overpass over the former Rock Island Railroad line were among my favorites to talk to and learn from. Changes in railroad shipping practices since then have all but eliminated the notion of "catching a freighter" to travel cross-country.
The street people of Amarillo today have their own reasons for their state of affairs. Some actually choose to live in tents or makeshift shelters in the same location for years. This is the case with "Papa" Wayne, a Vietnam War vet I have known and interacted with for more than a decade.
I rode a mountain bicycle all around the Amarillo Center City area taking streets, alleys and parking lots to sweep for signs of street people at different times of day and types of weather. Many times, I would engage in conversation without recording video. Sometimes I would engage people while already recording. I do inform people the camera is recording and ask if I should continue to record. I also ask for permission to publish their image and speech if I think it is story worthy. Some people choose to use "street names" and some use their legal name.
Every outing with the GoPro camera had the potential to be an adventure. Take this five-block ride from my camp to a city park for instance.
While in the park, I witnessed a rowdy parade of pickups and flags rounding the park and stopping on the other side. Was not recording at the time and the subjects would have looked too far away anyway But I did discover a group who does good things for the needy people of Center City.
There has been a number of institutions and agencies in Amarillo who have been giving shelter, food and aid to the homeless for decades but each has their own mission. A new citizen's activist group has formed the non-profit corporation Yellow City Community Outreach (YCCO). The mission of YCCO is to provide housing and shelter opportunities to those who are needy. One innovative idea is to provide tiny houses for better protection from the weather and streets.
The interview above was recorded during the first annual YCCO Horseback Poker Run - a fundraiser to build tiny homes for the homeless. This clip shows some highlights from that event.
There are more stories to tell about spending time on the streets of Center City Amarillo. But for now, here is another new story. Subscribe to Story Channel and stay tuned!