Huntsville Homeless Icon “Howard” Is Dead


Huntsville Homeless Howard's Home

Photo Caption

Howard spent a lot of effort building and adding onto his home. He kept his yard mowed in the summer where he liked to neatly place various adornments.
In the middle of the photo, there is a second story room with double doors and green trim that he called his “sound room.” He once told me that
he liked to sit up there and listen to a battery powered stereo system.

With the rousting of homeless people from under the bridges and overpasses of Birmingham, Alabama this week, I thought it a good time to note the passing of Huntsville homeless icon “Howard.”

What was believed to be Howard’s remains were found by Huntsville police about two weeks ago at his residence off of Cleveland Avenue in downtown Huntsville. At the time, media reports indicated that a positive ID was still pending because he had apparently been dead for two to four weeks prior to being found. I was told a few days later by a media representative that there was uncertainty as to whether or not foul play had been a factor, also owing to the condition of the remains.

You might notice that I refer to him as a Homeless Icon and then refer to his “residence.” In fact, if you view the photo above, you will see where this remarkable black man had built his home for the last thirty or so years. The rules of such matters escape me, but as best as my common knowledge serves me, given the improvements he made on the land, and the length of time he had been living there continuously, I believe he would have been considered the rightful owner of the property — and he was therefore a resident. Who the land belonged to in the beginning is unknown.

Unlike Marvin, who passed a few years ago, and who was seen roving all the major motorways and thoroughfares of Huntsville while pushing his own iconic grocery cart for many years, Howard was more known in the inner city where he was often seen early in the morning collecting cans and scrap for recycling. Howard was less likely to venture about much during the middle of the day, and during the last five years or so I noticed that he had slowed down his efforts. Old age was obviously beginning to take its toll. He was around 70 years old.

There’s a lot about Howard that I don’t know. How or why he was “homeless” in the first place, weather he had family, what kind of work he might have previously done. I did talk with him on occasion, and to the best of my knowledge he survived on his own efforts, and sometimes through the kindness of Church visitors. The Huntsville Times has done stories about him in the past, and maybe they will eventually be able to answer some more of those questions.

At any rate, Howard’s home is certainly a testament to what “homeless” people who have fallen through the cracks for whatever reason can accomplish when left to their own abilities — if they have the resources like the land where he built his shanty. Admittedly, I don’t believe he had running water, or eclectic, but I do know that he sometimes cooked for himself, and that he had a wood stove for heat in the winter. It hasn’t been that many years since that arrangement was the norm for most of the folks living in this country.

Some of the homeless people living under the bridges and overpasses who are being evicted by the City of Birmingham seem to have the same spirit of Independence and the American dream as Howard did. Sadly, if they are made to move every year or two, most will never be able to make as much progress or improvements for having to tear down and start all over again.

There is no doubt that homeless people who are even as fortunate as Howard live a difficult life. Even still, in a way, they actually seem to come closer to the American dream of freedom and Independence than other so called “responsible” people do. It isn’t my intention to start a debate over what is responsible and what isn’t in this story — suffice it to say, however, that there are many homeless people who are quite responsible, and go about there life in a manner that is as socially prudent as they are allowed.

But I have to ask, in this great country of freedom and liberty, where big brother now reigns supreme, privacy is non-existent, public surveillance is incessant, tracking devices follow you in your car and on your cell phone, background checks reveal virtually everything about you, without a chance for refute, etc. ad nauseam — are we really being responsible to the idea of the American dream for ourselves and the legacy we leave for the generations to come?

Hardly not.

Nearby Links
  • Featured

    FLAG BURNING VIDEO!

    Absolute power corrupts absolute, and as I recall Ted Turner, wise man that he is, once called Christians “stupid.” He eventually apologized, but for what I don’t know. While Christians are foolishly attempting to take over government with religion, the potential grows for a flag burning amendment that would essentially set the stage for the dissolution of all basic constitutional rights to unravel like a braided sisal rope without a boy scout.

    Where’s Colin Kaepernick?

    Our leaders are in denial of what is obvious at face value. The biggest threat to the future of this country is the incompetence and corruption of law enforcement.

  • Vintage Editorials

    Fascist Ben Carson On Sunday Morning TV

    The Seventh Day Adventist cult psychosis is a dangerous and grandiose Christ syndrome fueled by Carson and Prince – and is akin to the cult worship of Jim Jones. Holocaust, genocide, ethnic cleansing… are not “common sense.”

    Gansta Be Aksing Funny But He Ain’t Santie Clause – He Straight

    Gansta style image on a large screen TV portends of better days ahead for the lives that matter in the hood.

    Trump The Debate Leader

    The media pundits continue to speak out of both sides of their mouths as they declare on one hand that Donald Trump has struck a chord and is invigorating previously disenfranchised voters, while still claiming he is unfit, unworthy, inappropriate, can’t be taken seriously, doesn’t represent… ad nauseum.

    Tutwiler Prison: Plantation A Or Plantation B?

    At face value, the entire situation is absolutely ridiculous and completely inexcusable. The facility isn’t really all that large. Recent numbers indicate that Tutwiler is currently housing less than 1000 inmates, and has a staff of about 100. That’s smaller than most of the hundreds of high schools in Alabama.

    Film Legend Charlton Heston Appears In Huntsville

    Overcast skies threatened to put a damper on the party, however, Mr. Heston saved the day. Keeping in step with his omnipotent portrayal of Moses in “The Ten Commandments” he stepped to the microphone just as a light drizzle subsided and intoned “glad to do it.”

    NRA President David Keene Puts The 2nd Amendment On Slippery Slope

    In the wake of Sandy Hook, David Keene, President of the NRA, made an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation this morning. During the interview Bob Schieffer miopically declared that it has been shown in cultures where there are no guns, there is less gun violence. What Bob, and even Mr. Keene, failed to point […]