Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lite Earl Gossage, Jr.

Sandy Powers, an accomplished photographer from Texas, shares this heart-warming story:

Lite Earl Gossage, Jr. That is his name, and he happens to be a homeless gentleman who profoundly affected my life. I first met him in downtown San Antonio, looking for a photo for a photography competition that had the theme “Elderly Portrait”. He was playing his harmonica for change (quite competently, I might add), but mostly, people were just walking by like he wasn’t even there. He saw me with my camera, so I asked him if he minded me photographing him while he played. He smiled and began playing with a bit more flare (and maybe pride) in his notes. After the song and several good pictures, I admitted that I didn’t have any change, but if he was hungry, I’d be happy to buy him a hamburger with my debit card. “Thank you, ma’am, that would be nice.” So off we walked a few blocks to a gourmet hamburger place downtown – all the while I listened to story after story of Lite Earl Gossage, Jr.’s life.

Photo by Sandy Powers

I thought that would be the end of the acquaintance, but I regretted that because my photo won 1st place in the competition, and I know he would have loved to hear that. But then, lo and behold, I was eating my lunch at a park close to my work, like I did most days – and several miles north of the downtown spot where I had seen him initially – there was ol’ Lite – with his wife -- who had moved from downtown to the park! And also lo and behold.... there was another portrait competition called “One in 7 Billion”, so once again a delightful conversation ensued, and an honorable mention recognition for his portrait in the competition. This time I was able to let him know after the competition how we did. He was so excited, you would have thought he had been chosen for the cover of Time magazine :) And he then proceeded to tell me that he was worried about me spending so much time at that park, but if anyone ever “messed with me” to just come let him know, and they would have to answer to him ! My heart was warmed.

Photo by Sandy Powers

One more photo, and one more kudo of recognition of sorts was on a drizzly day at the park. I was talking with him, and right in the middle of our conversation, he starts calling out at the top of his voice, “Hey, Daffy.....” after which he ran over to a certain duck hanging around. The duck saw him but didn’t even flinch at Lite’s aggressive approach. Daffy knew ol’ Lite, and that was obvious. So Lite picks him up and mutters to me that Daffy’s his friend, and he sits the duck down right next to him and starts playing his harmonica while the duck actually seems to smile in enjoyment as he plays. The photo was accepted and published on a prestigious photography site called 1x.

Photo by Sandy Powers
The last time I saw Lite was on a very cold day at the park with his wife. His wife was sick with a cold and flu symptoms. My heart went out to her. To them. So much! They were cold and miserable and hungry. I invited them to hop in my car and let me take them to the Barbecue place down the road and let me buy them a good hearty dinner. But first... cold and pain relief medicine for Cindy. I would say that all that made me feel great to be able to do that, but it haunted me.... well... sometimes it still does, that I had to drop them back off with no real solution to their problem. I no longer work at that job, so I don’t make it over to that park very much, but I am proud to still call Lite and Cindy my friends, and I pray that God is watching over them.

sandy powers photography


Sandy's Bio

I have been a serious photographer for many years with my passion and focus being the artistry of PEOPLE! I recently left a well-paying job (and one that I was miserable at) to follow my dreams and pursue photography as a full-fledged livelihood. I spend my professional time alternating between portrait and wedding photography, and being a member of the Perspectives Gallery of Art in San Antonio, Texas where I sell my fine art wall prints with a few other artists in different mediums.


1 comment:

Joe DiGilio said...

Outstanding photos to go with this touching tale. I see many homeless people in the streets of Manhattan daily but I never stop to talk. Your story made me think about that and about what a special person you must be.