The homeless street performer


An interview with Dave

By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



In one of his customary spots at a Wilmington shopping center, Dave plays a Bob Seeger song on a recent September Saturday.

In one of his customary spots at a Wilmington shopping center, Dave plays a Bob Seeger song on a recent September Saturday.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — If it’s not raining, there’s a pretty good chance you might see Dave and his guitar on a median at the Wilmington Plaza Shopping Center.

He’s been homeless for months but has been in Wilmington some 23 years, which means he has a lot of friends around here. He usually stays at friends’ houses for like a night, he said when asked where he sleeps.

He said he’s had a bunch of different jobs and has worked more than he’s not worked. This one girl, he said, asked him are you singing because you want to or you want to make money. Dave said “a little bit of both.”

“It’s nice to be able to sit here and play. It doen’t really bother anybody,” he said.

Dave interacts with other people experiencing homelessness around town.

You can’t help but see them, he said, adding they’re moving along.

He mused that if you don’t have a home base, then it’s a matter of “to keep moving” from spot to spot, of being told to move along.

He related a story in which a girl or young woman was told by her boyfriend to meet him this one night near the Hope House on East Locust Street. There was a gazebo at that location and “a few people were sitting around there, but they didn’t want you sitting there at nighttime so everybody was getting ran off for sitting there, like you got to move along.

“So everybody goes wherever they’re going, and the girl said ‘Well, can I sit on the sidewalk?’ The cop said, ‘Well no, I suggest you move along’,” according to Dave’s account. Which, said Dave, puts the girl in a situation such that “if I move along I won’t be where I’m supposed to be” to meet up with her friend.

The story’s irony is not lost on Dave.

Nevertheless, Dave remarked that he knows it’s a problem, and that ‘No Loitering’ signs are put up for a reason. But he also commented, “When you’re homeless, you got to sit around somewhere.”

He spoke about what he said was “probably 20 people living in tents on the outer realm of [a Wilmington City] park to where they felt they were out of sight, out of mind you know and it’d be all right. Apparently it wasn’t because they tore them all down.”

Dave added, “I thought that was pretty messed up.”

He acknowledges he doesn’t really know a solution other than to let people who are experiencing homelessness move into an abandoned house with the landlord’s permission with the agreement that they will fix the house up, do the labor, “because a lot of them could be plumbers or electricians.”

He was asked whether there is a service Wilmington needs that would help his situation and that of other homeless people around here.

The housing situation would be about the only thing they’re in need of, he opined.

The biggest asset, on the other hand, is Your Father’s Kitchen, said Dave. If not for them, it would be a heck of a lot harder for the homeless here, he said.

After he said something about his guitar, he said, “That’s another thing, hanging onto your stuff is very difficult when you’re homeless. Like you can just imagine.

“Say you have a tent, and you leave for whatever reason, all these other people who have nothing take your stuff. Then they try to get their stuff back,” he said.

He said you often hear “I just got took for everything I have.”

Dave, who just turned 60, smokes and rolls his own cigarettes. He said because of the smoking he doesn’t have much of an appetite.

While playing his guitar at the shopping center, he said motorists tell him they are praying for him, or advise him “Be safe.” And of course some passersby give him money for playing music.

He said he was sitting there playing one evening and the mayor and his wife came up and the mayor said there are programs that can help. After relating that interaction with the mayor in the News Journal interview, Dave said he hasn’t reapplied for metropolitan housing, and that it’s an option he should do, and “possibly I could get back on it.”

Sometimes he does not sing when he plays his acoustic guitar.

“Sometimes I just play [the guitar] because my voice is messed up because I talk too much.”

When Dave could tell the interview was getting close to ending, he said, “We do have a homeless problem here but it’s not as bad as other places. And I don’t see anybody killing anybody, I don’t see the homeless killing anybody because they’re homeless, you know. I don’t see anybody killing anybody or hurting anybody to support their drug habits, neither. But there are a lot of people bumming to support their drug habit, there’s a lot of people stealing to support their drug habit. I don’t believe in that.”

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

In one of his customary spots at a Wilmington shopping center, Dave plays a Bob Seeger song on a recent September Saturday.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/09/web1_homeless.jpgIn one of his customary spots at a Wilmington shopping center, Dave plays a Bob Seeger song on a recent September Saturday. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal
An interview with Dave

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com