A mild winter for Cheyenne locals, for Ralph and his family it was brutal. Sleeping in the car, waking up and seeing his breath was an eye opening experience. They didn’t want to run the engine for very long because it uses precious fuel. The library offers a refuge from the elements and a place to feel comfortable during the day. The library does not offer refuge for the family pets.
Ralph shares his disappointment, “We lost two pets to the cold. They became popsicles. We had an iguana for 16 years. We lost her to the cold. We use to put her and the pigeon in a pet crate and bring them into the library and put them underneath the table. It was cold and nobody said anything except this one librarian.” The one librarian told them they weren’t supposed to bring animals into the building. Ralph told her, “well if we put her out in the car we’re gonna lose her. Sure enough we did. And then when we tried to go to this veterinarian to see if they could put it in their, you know, give it a decent burial, they wanted sixty bucks. We didn’t have sixty bucks. I said let’s dig a hole in the park somewhere. Ellen said, ‘no.’ So she took it the Cheyenne Animal Shelter. I said don’t go there they’ll call the authorities, its animal cruelty. Sure enough, they did. And then she had to go to court on the 19th of December but the judge threw it out. She said, ‘do you have other pets?’ We said, ‘yes’ she said, ‘don’t let it happen again.’”
http://cheyenneanimalshelter.org/ Cheyenne Animal Shelter
Ralph’s sense of humor shows through when he tells how ironic it is that “when the authorities took the pets away it was because they were popsicles. It turns out that is what they do with them. They put them in freezers and turn them into popsicles.”
The Wyoming Coalition for the homeless offers free showers and laundry facilities to homeless in the community. Showers are a precious commodity. Ralph enjoyed the weekly chance to shave and lean up but now he has lost his shower privileges. Ellen got into an argument with the second in command. This cost Ralph and Ralph Jr. their opportunity to shower for free, once a week. Now he’s hoping the truck stop that charges $3.00 a shower won’t get tired of them.
http://www.wch.vcn.com/ Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless
Ralph keeps calling around to local churches asking for gasoline vouchers. He says they come along, “once in a blue moon.” He goes on, “once in a blue moon my brother will toss us a bone. Like maybe a hundred dollars in a money gram. We’ll make it stretch.”
http://www.calc.net/ Community Action of Laramie County
The last week of July brings an influx of tourist to Cheyenne. Frontier days was a prosperous time for Ralph and his family. “We had a little bit of money,” he tells the story, “the Dodge Ram exhibit out at the park, they’d give you $10 to test ride there trucks. The lady told us, ‘we’ll see you tomorrow.’ You could go every day so for nine days we went there. So we went to the truck stop. I told Ellen to see if she can get us some Big Macs. So with those American Express Gift cards we got gas.” Ralph’s voice rises with excitement.
“One day, during that week, there was this man here, a younger man, and my son was helping him down load some music onto his mp3 for three or four days straight. So at the end he was leaving town and he gave him two twenties. With that and those cards at $10 a piece we went to the Motel 6 and they’re pet friendly.
Ralph has hope. He hopes things will get better. He says, “I just have to have a positive attitude. I don’t want to say ‘will it to be better’ but right now it’s just one day at a time.” Ralph is someone you want to know, if you don’t already.
http://www.peakwellnesscenter.org/ Peak Wellness
Read more about Ralph and homeless in Cheyenne at:http://pingroof.com/article/car-is-home-but-not-for-long-for-ralph
Read another story of homeless http://pingroof.com/article/life-on-cheyenne-streets-for-caleb