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Updated: Mar 9, 2022

At the beginning of my first year at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC, my father had used a yellow marker to underline my bus route map. 'Stay on the route', he said. Not heeding his words, I ventured out by myself into the city alone. Needless to say, I ran into trouble. On 9th and F Street NW, a man approached me asking for spare change, and as I was reaching into my pocket he grabbed my arm, took my bagged lunch, and proceeded to eat my sandwich. The grip on my arm was tightening when, out of nowhere, an older man appeared. He wore a cast on his arm which he raised yelling ' You take your hands off that girl unless you want to be answering to me!! It worked - the panhandler still clutching my sandwich ran away.

I then received the lecture of my life on the dangers of not using my head, talking to strangers, and wandering unaccompanied on the wrong side of town. My rescuer walked me to the bus stop and waited with me until I was safely aboard. 'I will be waiting for you every day outside your school and walk you to the bus until you wise up, he told me as I got on. The name is Elzie James Dowdy 'You can call me Pops'. This was my introduction to a long-time friend from Chicago. His lectures helped me stay safe when I later went to school in Mexico and eventually moved to California. Pops and I continued our correspondence in letters until he passed away in 1979. When I took this photo, it was America’s 1976 Bicentennial. He was a very spiritual, hard-working, proud American. I love and miss Pops more than I can say...


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