abstract 4
By Robert Jay

Even now and years later I still miss Old Bob on the street corner,
who would eventually be known by his nickname, “Bob the Greeter”
As he would always give the drivers stuck on 7th and PCH
A big wave and a smile
No cardboard signs with pleads for help
Never asking for anything but
Always offering a greeting
Collecting money or food from only
Those who truly wanted to give

His last name is synonymous with pain
For Bob has been hurt and clipped by cars
Suffered broken bones and osteoporosis
Endured more than one form of cancer
Still he kept his persistent cheerfulness

Big bright smiling eyes and
A sincere grin for anyone who would look his way
Sometimes that’s all you want
Even passing strangers returning smiles on streets
Is enough to give you a little hope
I’m thinking Old Bob appreciated being
Acknowledged just as much as being
Offered anything else

For those who would talk with Bob
And walk up to shake his leathery hand
You’d find a man full of stories from a different
Long Beach forgotten to us all:
Where as a child he would chase rabbits through
What is now the Ralph’s shopping complex
And later how he would fish the canals and rivers
That would be re acclimated by the massive DWP power plant.
Getting into wild childhood adventures of imagination
In the old town dump before it was covered by
And layered by Loynes Ave.

Not much for long winded conversation
Old Bob would still stay true to task
Reaching out to wave to the commuters
With his signature boyish grin
While chatting it up with a friendly stranger

Old Bob is no longer here
But he is also no longer gone
Last I heard he had got back in touch with family in
Kingman, Arizona (which also happens to be where I grew up)
Now across the vast Mojave
Bob Hurt is with family and
I wish him well.

Still today driving up to 7th and PCH
While getting bottle-necked into that common congestion
Before letting loose through the 22
I give a smile in his honor
Maybe even a harmless wave to a commuter next to me
There is no telling what the future holds for any of us
In 30 years or so I might be Old Bob on the street corner

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