Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eva (with update)

I have seen her for quite awhile on the #16 bus heading north on the evening commute. Always dressed in many colors and layers of cloth with a wild hairdo that morphed a little each time. One day we talked while waiting for the bus. I asked if I could photograph her. This week I had my camera.

Her full name is Eva Maria Cajetan Shirley Washington. We talked for couple of hours. She was on her way to the free classic movies at Seattle Center but first she had to go to her storage unit and get a chair she explained. She was born in Seattle on the south end in 1932, then known as Garlic Gulch for the Italians who lived there, now Rainier Beach. Soon she found herself living on her own. Not long after she learned how to live without a home.

The storage locker became a focus early on. She emphasizes that she has had homes and lots of jobs: Kelly girl, document worker at Boeing, dancer. She contracted tuberculosis in 1948 and remembers the World's Fair in 1962. She says Seattle, the world, was better back then. Last January, she landed back on the street. I asked where she goes at night. She just says "'out' after I get my night gear" and I take this to mean somewhere in park or nearby woods. I promise her that I will try and find out how to get her a place of her own. At 76, she needs a little help. She tells me often during our conversation that she would get far away from America if she could.

Update: I have talked with the two social service agencies since I first wrote this post. They are agencies which would be most likely to be of service to Eva. It turns out that Eva is well known to one, Solid Ground. She is known as a strong-willed, self determined woman and it is clear that she is respected. Not surprisingly, she doesn't easily take to rules and regulations and though she has many supporters refuses to utilize offers to find her a home. I will send her photo to one of these places where she gets her mail and seek to understand her story better. But it appears that Eva is doing fine, thank you very much.

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