Skip Davis grew up in Philadelphia. He says it almost killed him.
“People getting killed every day. That never changed. It is a blessing that I am just alive, period.”
He lived there almost 50 years. His family was there for a few generations.
“I guess everybody came from down South somewhere.”
Skip’s father was a construction worker. His mother worked in an office. Both of them died young, his mother from cancer and his father from a heart attack. After they passed, it was just him.
“Never had brothers and sisters, never got married, never had kids.”
He left Philadelphia about 20 years ago. He lived “everywhere,” except he never made it to Nevada.
“I just wandered. I would get tired of being somewhere, just go.”
But when he got to Seattle in 1998, he stayed.
“Seattle’s the best town. You get help and grub. The people are just generally nice. Back East, they are not nice. LA’s too many people for anybody to have time to care about your struggles.”
It took a few years for Skip to get off the streets and into a good apartment. It gives him a place to relax. He likes to listen to ’60s and ’70s music.
“I just like old stuff. Stuff now, I don’t really understand. Music’s supposed to be relaxing, not make you mad. This stuff now, it’s so wild, and it don’t have no meaning, like back in the day. They used to sing about things.”
His favorite music is anything James Brown and John Coltrane in jazz.
Skip complains that he’s “technologically challenged.”
He listens to music on CDs and radio, not an iPod. He tried to learn how to use a computer.
“I’ve been to classes, a couple of times, still don’t know how to run it right. I’m going to have to do it eventually, because that’s all there is. It’s like not using the phone.”
Skip worries about the police here, especially after the recent shooting of Charleena Lyles.
“Seattle police kill more people than I’ve ever seen. That’s the one thing that I really don’t understand here. It’s like hunting season. What I see, it ain’t a Black thing or race stuff, it’s just people, period. It’s sad.
“But I do my best to stay out of their way and keep moving. They pretty much leave me alone. When I got in trouble, it’s what I was looking for.”
He says, wryly, that while the police were pretty bad in Philadelphia too, “I don’t know if it’s any kind of fair, but fact is, the people [there] killed the police back.”
Skip sells at the Safeway on 15th on Capitol Hill.
“I’ve got pretty good regular customers. I’ve been there for years. They know me. I don’t bother people. Sometimes the less you say, the better. I stay out of trouble. Make sure the rent’s paid. I don’t want to be out here [living on the street] ever again.”
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