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This man’s name is Gary Gray

Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Filed under: great face, mini-feature | 3 Comments »

I was shooting today, at The Springwater; doing a feature on the legendary Dave Cloud, to be published later. It was a gorgeous day, and we were all hanging out back, under that covered deck. Dave introduced me to his friend Gary Gray. (They’ve called him Gravy Train since high school). Anyway, I just made friends with this guy. Tough story — when Gary was 25, (he’s now 54), he worked downtown at Chilton’s Engines. He drove a new Camero SS, midnight blue. One day, he and his buddy decided to go to a Harley rally in the Midwest. So off they go. Somewhere in Wyoming, they hit a car head-on at 85mph, and Gary’s buddy was killed instantly, but they cut Gary out of the car. He died twice in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital. He was in a coma for 105 days, then one day, he just woke up.

I could bullshit you, and tell you that I’ve spent a lot of time with guys who live on the street, but that would just be me lying. I have not. Of course Gary “had a hand” in what happened to him, but still, there sits a man — a nice, warm man — who now walks very slowly, with a cane, and as I write this at 10:20pm, he’s trying to find a place to sleep tonight, maybe in Centennial Park or somewhere nearby. I’m just saying it affected me pretty deeply — me knowing that I was going to drive home to a warm home, and me realizing that come sundown, Gary was going to be looking for a place for his sleeping bag. I had offered him one of the 4×5 Polaroids to keep, but he told me he didn’t have any place for it; that’s what started the conversation.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say, but when you spend an afternoon with someone, talking about cars, and adventures, and travels, you just make friends. You have things in common. And then you realize they’re going to be searching for a place to sleep that night.


3 Comments on “This man’s name is Gary Gray”

  1. 1 amy said at 4:53 pm on March 2nd, 2011:

    It is a story like this that reminds me to give thanks for having a bed, a warm house and to say a prayer for those who do not.

  2. 2 Sally said at 1:49 pm on March 5th, 2011:

    Not sure what to say. I hear ya… it’s a great reminder to be thankful, but is it also a call to action on our parts? I have no idea. But I find myself deeply affected by these encounters and wonder what my responsibility is.

    I love the portrait and the story. You are so talented at both. I’m so warmed by your honesty. I like you, Tucker.

  3. 3 Sanzi said at 8:25 am on April 17th, 2011:

    His face holds light so beautifully, as tho despite all the tragic features that carved them, he can still find a space for holding hope.
    Thank you.