Richard Kingsbury comes from generations of Vermont farmers: Kingsburys still live in the farmhouse his great-great-grandfather built. His own brothers and sisters, though, have spread out across the country. Richard first came to this area in the 1970s. He was in the Navy, stationed in Bremerton and used to come over to Seattle to look around.
After his discharge in 1975, he traveled all over the country but came back here to live. “I figured I would trade cold snowy winters for rainy ones.” He worked 17 years for The Seattle Times, doing packaging and assembly and maintenance on the printing presses. “Very dirty job, it was. I’d get covered with ink and paper dust.” Then he was laid off. He found himself on the streets when his unemployment ran out and decided to give Real Change a try.
“I’ve been working this spot for more than four years now. I know the people who work here [at Capitol Hill QFC] and some of the managers and neighborhood people. This past Sunday [Easter], I got a little package that the neighborhood put together for me, a card thanking me, with gift certificates and 40 bucks in cash.”
Richard stands at his location seven days a week. Selling Real Change takes a lot of patience. “There are times when I can stand here two, three, four hours without selling one paper. There often isn’t much [pedestrian] traffic.”
When Richard isn’t selling papers, he likes to listen to the radio, especially late night talk shows, such as Coast to Coast, which deals with politics and world history. “Some people would call them conspiracy theorists, but I find it difficult to believe that they’re just making this stuff up. They’ve got to be getting it from somewhere.”
He also likes to read about English history, particularly about the Plantagenet dynasty (1154-1485), including Edward I, II, and III and Richard the Lionhearted. And he’s fascinated by Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War in the 1600s.
In 2000, Richard visited his dad in western Massachusetts and hiked with him and his brothers up Mount Greylock. From the top, they could see three different states. “I haven’t actually been on what you’d call a hike for a good while. I do walk a lot. If I’m not in any big hurry to get where I’m going, I’ll walk there.”
At night, Richard stays in a shelter. “It’s a depressing scene. It’s a place to sleep, that’s all.”
He dreams of owning a place of his own. He can list all the locations where he wouldn’t mind owning a house — “northern California, western Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, upstate New York, northern Wisconsin, Montana” — somewhere in the country or at least on the edge of a city, though he wouldn’t like the winters in most of those states. “Maybe [I’d] own two places.”
Then he could live somewhere warm when winter came.