08/17/17 Aurora, CO – PART 1 OF THIS REPORT.
What could 300 bucks buy you? For some people people maybe 2 tickets to a classic rock 70’s band reunion. For others a football ticket or two. For many, a day for two on one of Colorado’s premier ski slopes skiing or riding in the early Spring sun. For Antonio Williams (known on the streets as Kapone) and his wife Lynn it could be their ticket to freedom. A chance to escape life on the street, two bus tickets to Russell Kansas and some change left over for food and travel to be exact. It could buy them clean water to shower in, a bed in a real house, maybe even a new lease on life. What’s $300 dollars to most of us in Metro Denver? A weekend fun budget? To this husband and wife team it’s a more than mad money. It’s what keeps them stranded in an old abandoned car wash. It might as well be 10 grand.
Take their location on the edge of East Colfax in Aurora near North Havana Street behind a tire shop. A strip of Old US Highway 40 to be exact. Now draw a straight line due east 365 miles (about 5 hours by bus) to Russell Kansas (which is just east of Hays) and you have arrived at Antonio and Lynn’s home town. It’s even off Old US Highway 40 as well (just North of I-70). The couple arrived in Denver about a year ago for a funeral when Antonio’s dad passed away. Antonio says a cash-swindling family member cost him his return trip money after the funeral. The rest is regrettable history.
Both members of this marital team are willing to work. Antonio, who’s in his early 50’s, actually has been a skilled worker in the past. He was also a wild land firefighter in Kansas and Colorado. He even helped fight the Hayman Fire when it ripped thru Southern Colorado many years ago. Now physical work is more difficult for Antonio. He suffers from scoliosis and degenerative disc disease.
One glance at his spine shows a life filled with physical pain. In spite of this, he and Lynn keep busy in their East Colfax neighborhood. Their “home” is filled with street-dweller possessions and treasures. Old bicycle wheels, hubcaps, tents, a leather chair, ashtrays, knick-knacks and trinkets galore. Some of it they keep for their own use or creature comforts. Other items they sell or barter to other homeless people. Other street folk are welcome to stop by, but Antonio and Lynn have two strict rules. Number 1: Keep their home clean and tidy. Number 2: No Hard Drugs!
I ask Antonio about the old car wash property owner. Does she mind that they squat there. He says “She’s cool!” She even comes around now and then.” For now she seems OK with them staying there. I ask about the Aurora Cops? “Oh ya. They are real cool so far with us as well.” replies Antonio. Their desire or goal to get back to Kansas. It is a come-on or a scam? “We are for real.” says Antonio who also goes by the street name of “Capone”. “We need cash or 2 bus tickets. Folks could just hand us two tickets to Russell and we would be very grateful.” What about God in your life and a place like this I ask? “We are very blessed.” both Antonio and Lynn respond. How do you feel about all the division in our Country right now I ask Antonio? “It’s sad…This is America. We should all be as one.”
By now I’ve spent about a half hour with this unique couple. I don’t want to overstay my welcome. They make me feel invited, but I arrived at their home unannounced. I take one last look around their “house”. Old nylon tents. Blankets. A small camping potty. An old wheelbarrow. Even an American flag. I thank them for being so welcoming and generous with their time. Antonio invites me to return any time. “Maybe you can go on my neighborhood route with me sometime. Meet my home boys.” I pause and reflect for a moment. I think I will return sometime soon. When I do, personally I hope to not see Antonio and Lynn in the old carwash again. I hope by then the two of them are 365 miles East of here in Russell Kansas. You know. Right off Old US Highway 40. Yes, nothing personal. I hope to not see them again in North Aurora. What’s $300? Weekend fun money, or maybe the stuff new dreams are made of? I can’t really say. Can you? Shane Anthony reporting for ColoradoNews1.com