Stories From California

Ceola "Dice" Waddle - Downtown Los Angeles, CA

A Skid Row Hustle - From a Pack of Cigaretts To Bed and Breakfast on the Streets

While volunters are counting the homeless in Los Angeles County and will again arrive at a number unfathomably high, I was thinking of one of the men who talked with me about their life on Skid Row: Ceola "Dice" Waddle.

He stood out. Between camps made from tents, tarp, card board and rags he wore an ironed suit, a white apron, leather shoes and a cream colored fedora. He also had sizzling pots and pans on an improvised stove in front of him. Ceola was easy to approach, which cannot be said of most of the people I passed. He had a friendly smile, and something in his eyes told me he was ready to tell me his story. Or at least A story ...

Ceola had come to Los Angeles from Louisiana, he said. Ready to leave the South for a better life in California. He likes to live outdoors, he said, "among the people". He had an arrangement with a Skid Row church to store his belongings in a stairwell when he needed to. There was a stint in jail, he said, and that afterwards he knew to never touch drugs again. He is a hustler. And he is vey good at it.

He told me, he was running a bed and breakfast on Skid Row, renting out tents to tourists, who want to experience living on these streets. For the most part, he said, they decide that they have seen enough after one night. "I teach them to use a pot instead of a toilet and where to bring it in the morning. Which sidewalk they can walk on, and which one is off limits", he told me. True or not - it makes for a good story.

Ceola wants to teach business classes. How to make it from a pack of cigarettes to a bank account with $ 20,000. From what I saw in a paper a few weeks ago, he has moved his hustle to a different spot.

I have talked to a lot of men and women without a roof over their heads, who totally hate their life on the streets. Ceola said, he would not want to have it any other way.  

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