Last month the kids came home from walking the dogs and told me “Your homeless friend says hi.”
For the last few years Bear and I have walked along the waterfront Boardwalk almost every day. Usually we’d run into Henry, sitting on his bench with his backpack and sleeping bag. In mild weather he’d put out baseball cards next to his donation cup. He’d offer bread or chips to the birds, and always save some for Bear.
I probably spoke with Henry more often than anyone other than my family, particularly during the pandemic. On Friday he patted Bear and gave him a Fig Newton before sending us off to get the next treat at Village Books, with his usual “Go get ’em, Bear!”
On Sunday we saw news reports that the body of a man in his 40s with four gunshot wounds had washed ashore near the Boardwalk. Eleanor and I both worried it was Henry. Last night the police identified him as the victim.
Homelessness is an intractable social problem that seldom has a human face. Henry King was a real person – kind, friendly, and generous. Lux perpetua ei.