It is an interesting one for sure. He was raised to be homeless by his mother in Brooklyn, N.Y. before moving to South Beach in 1966. Raven remembers him and his mother from those times. Both mother and son slept on the old pier. They were a regular site on a bench, or shuffling along. It was quite a sight, his mother pulling a shopping cart and Placard Man following her with a folding chair.
He never spoke. His mother did the talking for both of them, but he was always reading and studying everything around him.
When his mother died in 1985, Placard Man was left on his own. Though he worked sporadically as a desk clerk and had a place to live on and off, by the late 80’s he chose to be homeless on the beach. Because of his age, 77 as of 2007, he receives assistance. He has been called a homeless role model by the homeless because he doesn’t beg drink, smoke, curse, or cause trouble.
He is an avid reader and constantly gathers knowledge. He often carries a placard with his messages, world political thoughts, requests for a coastal bike paths made of recycled tires, or warnings of the dangers of UV Sun rays.
When Raven and the runners run by him, Raven calls out everyone’s first name (except Ozarks) and Placard Man tries to repeat all of them. He has been able to recall up to nine runner names at one time.
He survives from his small social security check, and sleeps between 7th and 8th street, by a tree where the lights are just enough so he can read. Placard Man may be homeless but he is an intelligent gentle soul. In this case clearly, you can’t judge a book by its cover.