A Man in the Garage and Ted Williams

By Judy Berman

The first time I saw West Amboy, it was at night. Fog hung low over the land. Mysterious and creepy all at the same time. I didn’t know then about Oswego County’s brutal winters.

On one of those nights, Dad told us that a man was at our door asking for work. My folks had 66 acres, but farmed only a half-acre for our own use. So we didn’t need a farmhand. He told Dad that he’d been fired from a neighboring farm a few miles from us. He had nowhere to go and was hungry.

My Dad didn’t know the man and was hesitant to put his family’s safety in jeopardy. Still, my parents were touched by this man’s plight and didn’t want to turn him away that bitter, cold night. Dad let him sleep in our detached garage and provided enough cover so he’d be warm. Mom fixed a hot meal for him.

The next morning, Dad started calling around to see who might be able to help the man. The Salvation Army in Syracuse, N.Y., offered shelter, food and some work to earn money. It was a 30-mile drive to Syracuse, but Dad felt that was the best option. The man appeared to be happy that he’d have a secure place to go to, meals and a job.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I often think about this man and my parents’ comfort and kindness to a total stranger many years ago.  My husband and I have often donated to and volunteered at homeless shelters. I still recall one man’s reaction when he came up to the window for pizza and a soda. He said: “Hey! Name-brand sodas.”

That just made me smile. It reminded me that the simplest things can bring great joy.

As I was writing this, I wondered what happened to former homeless man, Ted Williams (see photo at left). He was panhandling on the streets of Ohio when a “Columbus Dispatch” videographer stopped to talk with Williams. He recorded Williams “golden voice,” a deep, rich broadcaster’s voice, and posted it on the paper’s website in January 2011.  This month, Ted became the official voice at New England Cable News (NECN).

Williams had had a career in broadcasting until his personal problems led him to become homeless. May Williams now stay on course and fulfill his dreams. I hope the same was true for that man my parents helped so many years ago. I believe we can make a positive difference when we reach out to others.

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments and for steering me to that story about Reed Sandridge. To some people, the $10 he gave them was a lot. But he really gave them much more when he stopped to talk with them. Many homeless are used to people who look away when they see them. Maybe they just want to distance themselves from the homeless person’s plight. They might find, however, that that person has an interesting story to tell.

  1. My thanks to Charles for directing you to my post!

    The story about Ted Williams is heartwarming and maybe what scares people a little about homelessness, too. My husband and I were both without jobs for about three weeks this year. That’s nothing compared to the plight of some, but it made me realize what a slippery slope it is to be without income. Things have the potential to change very drastically in one’s life within days.

    1. Having worked in radio years ago, I also went thru the experience of “too much month at the end of the money.” Very scary, especially when I was a single mother. That changed, fortunately, and my husband and I did help a homeless shelter in our area around Thanksgiving for several years. You mentioned you and your husband were out of work for three weeks. That might not seem like much to some, but it means you can get real behind on your bills and that takes longer to recover from.

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