First Day of Winter and its COLD

By: ralphbarrera

Dec 21 2008


Category: Photojournalism

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Focal Length:200mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS-1D Mark II N

I met an interesting old man today who goes by the name of “Sapo”, which translates to ‘Front Man”. His actual name is Martin Cayetano Cantu. He’s 65 years old and lives on the streets of east Austin. During the day he shuffles around picking up aluminum cans with a stick, because his back hurts too much to bend over. He visits various neighborhood friends who give him bread or a biscuit or a cup of hot coffee. He loves a shot of whiskey with his coffee on cold days, but that costs money. And he wears a beautiful silver crucifix around his neck for good luck and as a religious guide. Cantu attended all the historic schools in old Austin like the Palm School and Anderson, but dropped out after the ninth grade. “I can’t write all that well.” said Sapo, but his English is great. “My daddy was a Gringo.” Sapo was headed toward town where he sleeps at the Salvation Army, but he gets no meals there, so he has to fend for himself on the streets. He was in great spirits even though a cold snap had hit Austin dropping the temperatures into the 20’s overnight for a hard freeze. “I’m okay. I have a good blanket and some gloves.” Sapo is like hundreds of other homeless in our town. He has befriended residents along his route, keeps to himself and is very respectful of others as he says “I don’t bother nobody, and nobody bothers me.”


Most days he searches for aluminum cans while pulling his shopping cart filled with his possessions as he squeezes out a few dollars to buy hot coffee or cocoa and stay warm until its time to sleep at the Sally. “Its all I can do. I have to earn some money and stay warm.” says Sapo, which is the name he prefers. 

photo by Ralph Barrera



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