Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Wacky Willy

A decade ago, Scott (Ashman) and I both worked for an auto parts distributor in central SE Portland. Every other week or so, we would see an older gentleman pedaling around the neighborhood of the warehouse on his three-wheeler, yelling out for "Cans! Cans!". There was a wire basket behind his seat, always with a dozen or so empty beer and soda cans scrambling around inside. Because of his eccentric nature, we all started calling him Wacky Willy. Once in a while, Willy would roll up to the bay door in the new warehouse and ask us if we had any cans. We always had a few for him.

One of the funniest things to see was how people would react to Willy's presence. He'd ride directly across the streets with no regard for the impatient drivers who had to wait for him. He'd cross in crosswalks against the green light, much to everyone's annoyance. Well, unless you were local, then you just let him go his own way with a smile and a wave. But outsiders would honk and yell, red-faced, which delighted Willy all the more.

Later, one of our customers told us that his name was actually Leroy (I think; help me out here, Scott), and that he was far from being a penniless transient. In fact, I sometimes used to see him sitting inside McDuff's Pub around the corner enjoying a nice lunch and beer, which wasn't so cheap. Despite this revelation, however, we still called him Wacky Willy, because we liked him better as a crazy, can-collecting old character.

I hadn't thought of Willy for years, until I spotted him today on my way to work. (I apologize for the extremely bad quality of this picture. I saw him out of the corner of my eye while driving, so I circled around the block and got my camera ready. I had to snap the photo blindly through the passenger-side window while going 25 mph.)

The orange blob in the middle of the photo is Willy's back. He was wearing a safety vest. Below that, you can just make out the triangular safety triangle affixed to his three-wheeler. I also noticed that he's got some pretty sweet, expensive-looking racing wheels on that thing now, not the old bent spokeys from years past.

Good old Wacky Willy.

10 Talked Back:

At August 17, 2005 at 11:06:00 AM CDT, Blogger Scott said...

Wacky Willy, I haven't heard the name in a while.
I remember when he would cross the streets, he would hold his hand out as to say STOP, and flip off the people who didn't stop.
I was told, like you said Stan, that he was pretty well off.
He's still around? WOW

 

At August 17, 2005 at 11:09:00 AM CDT, Blogger Scott said...

Oh Stan, is he still hanging out in SE?

 

At August 17, 2005 at 11:24:00 AM CDT, Blogger stan said...

That's where I saw him, on SE Grand Ave. & Stark St.

 

At August 17, 2005 at 2:49:00 PM CDT, Blogger Scott said...

Hey Stan, I was checking out your pictures from your trip to the coast, and got me thinking, is that other shipwreck (the tanker) still on the beach?
You know which one I'm talking about?

 

At August 17, 2005 at 3:07:00 PM CDT, Blogger Jim said...

Stan -- stop bothering my Uncle Leroy!

 

At August 17, 2005 at 3:31:00 PM CDT, Blogger stan said...

Scott - you mean the New Carissa? I think it's still there, although if you remember, they hauled half of her out to sea. I tried doing a Google Maps search of Coos Bay a few weeks ago to see if the ship shows up on the satellite image, but I couldn't see it (not enough detail). If you look it up, let me know.

Jim - as I was driving past him, I heard him yell out, "Rootyburger!" Still gonna defend him now? :)

 

At August 17, 2005 at 3:38:00 PM CDT, Blogger Scott said...

New Carissa, yeap that's it, on the Coos Bay beach, I will have to look into it a little more.

 

At August 17, 2005 at 4:56:00 PM CDT, Blogger Jim said...

Stan -- you were camping for an entire weekend and all we get is this blurry picture of some old guy on a bike -- where are the "Stan being tied to an ant hill by the other campers" pictures, the "Stan being tossed in a creek by the other campers" pictures, the "pie eating contest" pictures [the latter because I just think pie eating contests are fun]?????????

 

At August 17, 2005 at 5:04:00 PM CDT, Blogger stan said...

I wouldn't trust anyone else to use my phone to take those pictures of me. Plus, I didn't win the pie eating contest because it was all onion pie, and who wants to eat onion pie?

Wacky Willy was seen this morning, not last weekend, although it would have been funny to see him riding in front of that halftrack, giving them the finger

 

At August 17, 2005 at 5:43:00 PM CDT, Blogger Jim said...

hehe, you still have some of the blackberry pie on your chin

 

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