Steve Meyer, ex-mailman turned sign-flier, kicks off our new Street People series
If the mountains to the West are the first thing that Denver's visitors notice, the second are all the people standing on corners holding signs? While panhandlers, as they're commonly known, are sheltered by the First Amendment, Denver' sign-fliers are also prohibited from using profanity or being aggressive, and they cannot come too close to ATM's, community toilets, buses, outdoor patios or other public spaces. Many consider these people the face of Denver's homeless -- but who are they, really?
Big photos below.
To answer that question, Westword is launching a regular series profiling the people behind the signs. Read our first entry below.
Location: Yosemite and Colfax
Steve Meyer's heart is broken. In February, he replaced his old, orange sign with this new version, fashioned from the torn upper half of a heart-shaped candy box and scribbled with his story: "DISABLED HOMELESS VETERAN PLEASE HELP GOD BLESS." On the back, scrawled over photos of coconut and cream filling, is his lawyer's phone number, just in case he needs it. He needs it pretty often.
If that sign helps Meyer earn $14 a day, his goal rate of donations, he is satisfied. That's enough for two cheap pints from the market down the street, a bologna sandwich and the bus fare to the apartment he rents by the month. He is good at this, he says, meaning panhandling, and he knows why. For 22 years of his life, he worked as a mailman, and what they say about rain and shine is true: Today, the weather affects not his longevity but his skin, which is sun-died, rough and stretched tight over his face.
Meyer was born 61 years ago in the Bronx, where he lived for three years before moving to the burbs of Huntington. Although he didn't live there long enough to develop it, he still has the accent. Meyer graduated high school during the height of the Vietnam War, and college was never an option. "When my father told me to join the Navy" to follow in his footsteps, says Meyer, "I did. That was it."
Before his ship-out date, Meyer wasted his time at the post office, where he followed a suggestion from his mother to be more like his cousin Freddie. When he returned to the country in 1972 after his four-year mandatory tour, Meyer returned to the job and stayed for an additional two decades-plus. With his steady government paychecks, he was able to propose to a pretty brunette named Lynn Schultz, whom he met at his sister's birthday party.
With Lynn's sister and Meyer's Navy buddy, they had a double wedding. Afterward, Steve and Lynn quickly upgraded their small carriage house to a four-bedroom they filled with two children. Scott and Janelle Schultz, now 30 and 27, spent their time in the backyard, where the family built a thirteen-by-26-foot swimming pool and fitted it with a short, white diving board.
He has not seen either of his kids since 1999.
Page down to continue reading about Steve Meyer.