Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Friendly Residents a Diverse Group

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Friendly Residents a Diverse Group

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: Albuquerque is the first city featured in this series on American home places. The series takes a visitor's verbal snapshot of diverse places that Americans call home. At 5:15 a.m. the sun has not yet risen over the Sandia Mountains. Clouds gather over the peaks like frothy icing, but the weather forecast offers zero percent chance of rain.

By 5 p.m. the 90-degree high of the day is still hovering, but is surprisingly comfortable. The wind rises and falls, shaking the warm air out of the trees, rattling leaves with purple blooms. No humidity.

Taking a city bus from uptown to downtown Albuquerque under a sky that is turquoise blue, unsure of the bus changes, I ask directions from a man waiting with me on the metal bench at Central Avenue and Louisiana Street. His hair is a mix of dreadlocks and braid, and he answers with more information than I expect: There will be five stops before I exit at Old Town; I should take the express bus, 766. He tells me that he's lived in Albuquerque much of his life, except for his time in Vietnam. He shows me where he was shot during the war and rubs the scar, vouching for the New Mexico weather, which is kind, he says, to his aches and pains.

Once on the bus, he sits in the back, but comes to my seat before exiting at his stop. He tells me his name is Angelo and warns me against buying silver or turquoise that is "too smooth." It won't be authentic, he says. His skin is very dark, almost black, and uncreased, despite his age, which he's told me is past 60. He leaps off the bus and saunters off in front of adobe buildings.

I don't know whether he lives in one of them, if he has a home at all. The Center for American Progress reports that 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness because of poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions. I know that almost one-third of New Mexico's Native American population lives below poverty level. I mark the changes in neighborhoods as the bus moves from one part of town to the other, observing an income disparity like that of most American cities.

On the way back uptown, I wait an excessively long time for a bus transfer, meet another Vietnam vet who also shows me his war wound, explaining that the bus I am waiting for could be late if it has to be checked for undocumented immigrants. …

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