Ted Williams Golden Voice : I'm Routing For You! The Barry Balloon Man Story

I for one am routing for Ted Williams. Not everyone gets a chance to turn their life around. He's made his fair share of mistakes, and lived on the cold hard streets for some time. Now he's getting a second chance at happiness.

Dr. Phil was quick to point out that the public will build Ted up and tear him down--making it hard for a recovering addict to stay on top and focused. Sadly Ted's own family isn't too approving of his "girlfriend" who may be a bad influence.

You can lead the horse to water but not always make him drink. I remember Barry. I was selling my CynmarieConcessions fruit drinks at Artscape all by myself. A homeless man named Barry came up to me and offered to help me for the day. He didn't want any money, he wanted to be able to sell his balloons to the kids if they came to my stand. How could I resist?   He was a good volunteer and the adults would give him a donation when he made them a balloon animal.
A Dream Adrift by emkphotography

Barry had been homeless for 15 years. He had new shoes, and good looking clothes, though his hair looked a little unkempt. He explained to me that he slept in a cardboard box behind a store, after hours, between two dumpsters. He only did that on Wednesdays, because he had shelters and free meals lined up the other 6 days. He showed me his bus pass, and explained to me his route as if it was etched in his brain.

Barry was often picked on, robbed at gunpoint, or beat up. He didn't do drugs, but I sense he had some social issues. He mentioned his late father was rich, (Later I found this to be true) and his widowed mother was too hard on him. He was funny, nice, and the kids loved his balloons. 

I tried to give him housing in a hotel for several weeks and allow him to work with me, as I found him to be trustworthy and honest. I was even debating taking him in at one point, to help him revamp his life. I offered to get him a real vendor license, and get his balloon show on the road for real.

His new life with me lasted about three days, he came to me and told me the hotel was too fancy, and he didn't like it. He said he couldn't handle working, and liked things they way they were. Life on the streets was normal to him and he wasn't ready to blend in.

I left and open end invitation open to Barry to come back at any time, or if he changed his mind, but he never did.
This lamp from sweetlilystudio reminds me of Barry

What became of Barry? I saw him several years later at another festival. I had sold my fruit drinks for two days and after everything I paid probably made a $300 paycheck for myself for working both days which I thought was pretty darn good. Barry and I got to talking-- he was still homeless but he had new clothes, and new friends. I asked if he talked to his mother; no he hadn't. He pulled a cigar out of his jacket while I was cleaning up my stand and he said he was celebrating.  When I asked him why? He told me "I made $1000 here in two days selling my balloons. I'm going to eat good tonight."  Suffice to say, I never heard from him again. I imagine he's somewhere, eating at a shelter, enjoying a cigar and good conversation and gearing up his route to make balloon animals.  At least, I hope so.♥