For the past several weeks, I've been feeling an absence in "greater Metropolitan SSW," and I decided today to go investigate. Many of you who have lived in the neighborhood for a year or more will remember Mr. JC, the aging African-American caretaker who can be seen most weekdays from 8:00-4:30 leaning on the brick wall in front of the doctor's office at 805 E. 32, or taking care of the lawns up and down the side roads there. He is, I believe, 88 years old, rarely misses work, and misses a day of church once every never---a Baptist Church in East Austin where he's been singing in the choir since his children were small. So permanent a resident of our neighbornood is he, in fact, that if you do a google street-view of Beanna Street, the short L that cuts over to Lee Elementary, you'll see him out in front of one of the houses, watering the lawn. Mr JC has spent over half a century at his intersection, keeping an eye on things, waving to the children on their way to Lee, and shooing them back in if he found any of them trying to cut classes. He also has an entertaining story about running down a burglar on Hampton Road. He moved here from Dallas when he was young, and started working for "The Doctor," the man who once owned the house at 803 32nd, which later became a seminary property (and where my family and I spent our first two years in Austin). Behind this house and the neighboring one, on the edge of the creek, are several old green houses, and years ago JC and The Doctor raised prize-winning roses and orchids in them. He shows these photos proudly--and he also likes to show the photos of the birthday party that seminarians and UT student-renters from the neighborhood threw him one summer.
So he's an old friend of the seminary, a friend of Lee parents everywhere, and also--as I'd stake my theological orthodoxy--a friend of the angels. I inquired of him this morning at the doctor's office at 805 32nd, and it seems that he collapsed while working earlier this fall, and is now spending his days in a nursing home. They say that he is happy there, has family to look after him, and plenty to laugh about. I miss him here though. And if you've been missing him too, I wanted to let you know that he's still among us, for a little while longer anyhow.