Losing Family at Home and on the Streets
Tex went back to Texas, where he’s from in the western Midland-Odessa area, after his mother died there, but now he’s back in Reno, where he’s lived on the streets before.
He found out some of his friends had died while he was away. “They died out here freezing to death because they had nowhere to go,” he said. “The shelter, I don't care if they have space, I will not ever go there because it's nothing but disease… It's just nasty. People fighting all the time.”
He used to wok in saw mills, but injuries have weighed him down. Still he says he’s a survivor.
“I know how to live. Can't knock me down. I got more metal in my legs and I feel every screw right now in this cold weather. It doesn't matter. I just keep moving. They told me I wasn't going to walk again. I said bullshit. I call bullshit on that.”
During the winter he says the key is to keep your feet dry. “I mean, this could be a Vietnam for us out here, 24-7, but you gotta keep your feet dry and clean,” he said.
He depends on Medicaid and food stamps and donations from church groups, including lunches and the coat he was wearing. But he says he’s always ready to help someone in a worse predicament than himself.
“We all help each other with blankets,” he said of surviving the most recent winter. “We see somebody who shows up, needs help, hungry or whatever … if we got it, we share it. That's the way it is. We might be homeless, but if we got it, you know, if I got a couple of bucks in my pocket, I see some guy that needs help… Here you go. Don't go buy booze, find something to eat.”
Trying to Get Back on Track
Sometimes he says people will be extremely generous to him. “Someone actually once walked to me and gave me a hundred dollars and told me to go get a room,” he said. “So I went and got me a room, took me a nice hot shower and watched TV, refreshed in the morning.”
He says he’s trying to get back on track for his soon to be 18-year-old daughter. “I'm still married but let's not get into that,” he said. “I last saw my daughter two Christmases ago. She's a good kid. She wants to move in with me. I'm trying to get a job and trying to stay out the streets. I'm getting too old for this,” he said.
He says the homeless are just criminalized for being in public parks, when they have nowhere to go, and that he’s spent many nights in county jails.
He’s worried about the direction Reno is headed with more and more motels being sold off, shut down and demolished. “It's all about money,” he said. "This ain't Vegas. They want to be big and bad. Go to Vegas. Reno is Reno, the Biggest Little City. It says it right there,” he said pointing to one of the arches.