April 2008:  Riding freight train from Ft. Worth to San Diego to try to get work. Spotted on the train and kicked off outside Casa Grande.

May:  Wallet stolen while sleeping in alley.

June-Aug.:  Work odd jobs at Able Body, but with no ID no one will rent to me.

Sept.-Dec. 2010:  Homeless still. Hit a brick wall trying to get ID. Very few charities and no shelter in Casa Grande.

Dec. 2010: Friend I met in city park invites me to live at his house.

Feb. 2011: Going to store for the friend I live with. Wake up next day at a hospital in Phoenix. Left ankle in cast (broken). Left arm strapped to chest due to broken collarbone and torn rotator cuff. Plus severe concussion and sprained neck. No memory of accident to this day. It was a hit and run.

April 8:  Sent back to Casa Grande in a wheelchair. Told by doctor I would never be the same.

Aug. 12, 2012:  Celebrating birthday, I lose my balance and put right arm through window. Hospitalized and have permanent damage to arm.

May-April 2013:  Recovery is slow. One operation on left ankle, five on right arm (one more is needed). Arthritis hits me in neck and left hip and ankle.

April 1:  Friend loses house to foreclosure. Now I’m back on the streets.

Aug. 11:  Day before my birthday. Go to hot lunch and visit my friends all afternoon. Come back to camp just before dark. My camp is gone. All my clothing, bedding, paperwork and food are gone.

Aug. 12:  Decide to sell food stamps and go on one-week drunk (I was depressed).

Aug. 18:  Old friend of mine sees me and talks me into going to Detox. I know I need to change.

Aug. 27:  Case worker at Detox tells me about Prescott and asks me if I want to go there. I know I need a new place so I say yes. Arrive here same day, but no beds at shelter. Spend eight days under bridge until bed opens up at shelter.

Sept. 4-23:  Start meeting people who tell me about places like Quixote’s Garage, Salvation Army, Open Door, St. Vincent de Paul.

Sept. 23-Oct. 3:  Still hitting walls on my ID in spite of everyone’s help. Also, my left ankle starts hurting real bad. Check into hospital Sept. 23 to discover I have a staph infection in ankle due to the metal plates put in my ankle. My body is rejecting the metal, causing the infection. The next day they take the metal out. I am told not to use left foot for 45 days.

Oct. 4-Nov. 18:  Sent to Kachina Point in Sedona for physical rehab and more IVs. Social worker there believes who I am and obtains my birth certificate.

Nov. 18:  Discharged from Kachina  Point and return to Prescott.

Nov. 19-Dec. 30:  Try to get Social Security card and am told I need a picture ID before anyone would talk to me. I don’t give up though. Go back to Social Security Dec. 6 and ask for a supervisor who tells me that with a letter from Kachina Point stating my personal info and dates I was there she could approve a card for me. Call Kachina Point to get letter. Receive it Dec. 13 and go to Social Security. No problem; card on the way. Receive card Dec. 20 and get a ride to DMV that day, but am told they need a third form of ID. The clerk is very helpful and asks if I have a health insurance card. Yes, I do, and she hands me my ID.

It took me five years but I finally got it.


  1. More permanent roof over me.
  2. Get disability.
  3. Get eyes fixed so I can get driver’s license.
  4. Find my kids in Texas.

Dale Purcell