The first time I heard that term was when my Daddy said it. I asked him what he meant by that, and he explained that it referred to the guys who hang around on the benches at court square talkin’ about how life has done ‘em wrong. Every town has a club like that.
Walter was not your usual LD. As the story goes, he had a wife and kids and a good job and just simply said “to heck with it” and went to live on the streets. He was about my age, and I always wondered how one gets to that point. Later in life, I understood to some extent. I remember going to pick my daughter up at middle school years ago, lined up in the parent caravan traveling up College Hill. This particular day, Walter came stumbling down the ancient sidewalk dodging the hormones in designer tennis shoes. About halfway down the hill, he fell. The crowd went wild with laughter over his bad luck. There ain’t a meaner gig around than the self esteem of a 7th grader looking to be boosted. He eventually got up and stumbled on his way toward court square and his spot on the bench. He was found dead several years ago curled up in an abandoned building.
Whitman was a Native American from a neighboring county who had dogs for company. They walked and walked up and down the main drag to town, and that little black and brown dog never left his side that I could see. Even when he was admitted to the hospital, the dog came and hung out in the parking lot . He lost his legs, one at a time due to diabetes and the bottle. He’s dead too.
My own father-in-law was an LD. Clementine…..Clem for short. He didn’t last long on the streets because he had always had somebody to take care of him, sisters and brothers and such. I had just started working at the hospital when he went the long slow way to heaven in the intensive care unit at the age of 55. He cooked for the cops who picked him up on public drunk, and they paid him back by donning full uniform and carrying him to the grave. Two whole rows of ‘em. My ex was always afraid he’d end up like that. Time will tell…..I moved on.
They sit around the base of this statue, the Limp Dick club. I don’t know their names now. There’s one who comes around to our ER at the point of death every now and then. His favorite nurse, the caretaker, doesn’t work there anymore.
All these folks have a hard luck story, and I see people every day stopping by to check on them and listen to their pain. God bless the ones who stop to talk and care. You never know when just a gesture of kindness is all the world to somebody.