Christmas For Sweet Pauline

Introducing Pauline, my good friend.

I’ve known Pauline for three years.   The technical word for her situation is “homelessness”.  She lives on the street.   She sits on the sidewalk along Ventura Boulevard, although she can be found elsewhere from time to time.

She makes me happy.  I say again, “She makes me happy”.  I who have a home, a family, some money, warmth, clothes, a place to ‘be’, a good wheelchair, health insurance, a movie once in a while, lunch at Noodle World, a wife who loves me, a good shrink to talk to, and lots more.  She makes me happy!  I who have beaten death three times, who can’t write worth a damn since my stroke.  She is my inspiration!

A should have done this, which I will do now, weeks ago.  But I was too caught up in my own crap.

So please help me help her.   She never asks for money.  I say, “Never”!  If I have some, I give it.  But-she-never-asks.  She just beams her love and good will to all.

All I ask of you is to write.   Do you have a ‘following’?   Put them on your list.   There’s no scam.   Use an anonymous name.  Google the Sherman Oaks Patch.  They’ll love the notoriety.

Its Christmas, and she deserves better than any of us have to give.

—–     —–     —–

And now, Pauline

Reprinted below is a report from my neighborhood throw away, the Sherman Oaks Patch.

Nobody has actually counted the number of homeless people living on the streets of Sherman Oaks. Most of them are men, but several women also appear to be living on sidewalks and in the alleys around the busy intersection of Ventura and Van Nuys boulevards.

One of those homeless women is 49-year-old Pauline. She declined to provide her last name.

“I usually sleep in the Citibank doorway, or inside the dry cleaning storefront,” said Pauline, who was sitting in the walkway in front of the CVS Pharmacy on Ventura Boulevard.

“But it depends on the weather. Being a woman, I need to be safe and seen. I don’t sleep inside buildings or alleys or any place where somebody can get at me without me being able to get out.”

On windy days, Pauline is dressed in a mustard-colored army jacket, over a sweatshirt with sweatpants that are loose-fitting.

Pauline has been homeless for the past five years, she said. She moved to Sherman Oaks about a year ago.

“They don’t have any shelters or food pantries in Sherman Oaks, which makes it harder,” said Pauline.

Some people going in and out of the busy pharmacy seem to acknowledge her. Some nod hello and give her money.

Why doesn’t Pauline move to the downtown area of Los Angeles where there are a number of full-service shelters that provide two meals a day and a bed indoors at night?

“That area is dangerous. A lot of drugs and violence in the Skid Row area. I don’t want any part of that,” she said, waving her hand.

Pauline’s major possession is a green bycycle which she had chained to a post in front of the store.

“I also have a blanket and sleeping bag that I have hidden. At night I go get them and find a place to sleep, usually at the bank or by Best Buy.”

Some Sherman Oaks residents have complained about a number of homeless people sleeping in the three-story garage next to the Best Buy store on Van Nuys Boulevard.

…there have been no complaints about Pauline, who said she wants to create an entity in Sherman Oaks that would care for the homeless.

“I want to call it ‘Not A Shame.’ It means it’s not a shame what you’ve done or where you’ve been. We need to have a food pantry here,” she said.

“I’ve done drugs and I’m not ashamed to admit it.”

Pauline said she was born and raised in the Midwest, she is still married and occasionally sees her husband, who is also homeless. They have no children.

The homeless woman has come to be regarded as part of the neighborhood.

“I’m not the only person hurting here,” said Pauline, getting up from the concrete and walking toward her bike.

“There’s a lot of people in those big houses in the hills who need help, they shouldn’t be too proud to ask for it,” added Pauline, walking away.

Doug Kriegel is a well-known TV reporter in Los Angeles.


3 thoughts on “Christmas For Sweet Pauline

  1. Stories like that are so sad. I’m glad she’s gaining awareness. Perhaps someone will do something to divert funds for a shelter and a pantry. I see her point about not wanting to be in the heart of LA.

    We have a woman in our neighborhood, but her situation is very different. She is technically homeless, although people she has come to know let her stay sometimes. But, she does not have the mental faculties to help herself.

    Many years ago, her boyfriend brutally murdered her infant son. He was annoyed by the crying, picked the baby up by the ankles, then swung him, smashing his head into the corner of a wall. She was at work at the time. And, she never recovered from the loss.

    She is ill. Sometimes, she’ll talk about her son as if he grew up somewhere else and is still alive. She abuses drugs and alcohol. Her short term memory is gone. She has introduced herself to me dozens of time, and can never recall who I am. I have lived in this neighborhood for over two decades now. My family is well known amongst the locals. And yet, I am never part of her recollection. This is probably because I was only a very small child when the incident occurred.

    I wish there was something substantial I could do. But she needs help beyond what I can give her.

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