A physician-father who made a lasting impression

Every small community has a unique but similar cast of characters. Our small Southern Utah town was no different. From a young boy’s perspective, the cops and docs were feared but cautiously idolized, the mayor was respected, the athletic coaches were immortalized, and of course, we had the homeless man in town, whom we feared. We will call ours Stu.

Stu had greasy disheveled hair and a gray beard. He wore a patch over one eye which sparked all kinds of rumors that added to the mystery. The rancid smell of old sweat and alcohol permeated the air whenever he walked by. He wore baggy overalls and walked with a hunched over shuffle. I remember watching Stu shuffle to the local bar on Main Street, head down, and moving slowly. It was said that Stu would get drunk and create enough ruckus to get arrested just so he could spend the night in the city jail to get a shower and free meal.

It was hard not to ridicule Stu. In fact, to a young boy, his differences begged to be laughed at. On some of his walks to the bar, my friends and I would walk behind him, not daring to get too close but just close enough to make fun of his appearance and laugh at his strangeness. We made fun of what we feared. With all the rumors about Stu and his home, there was plenty to fear.

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