Soup Kitchen, from Bo Keely

October 24, 2006 |

Every day when I walk into the soup kitchen in Blythe, CA, it’s like opening a Louis L’Amour novel where I learn a dozen useful facts of life. On today’s “menu”:

1. How to hang a door: Better hang it before you frame it, like the legal system, to ensure no cracks.

2. How to straighten a newborn chick’s legs: Peel back the shell of the abandoned egg, put the chick in the sunshine and dose it with a drop of vinegar and water every hour until it walks.

3. How to become an Indian for $100: Locate someone on a reservation to get the name of a recently deceased Indian and his birth certificate.

4. How to enter jail: Preclude hardships by entering with a full stomach, empty bladder, laceless shoes and beltless trousers (laces and belts are confiscated), warm shirt, memorized phone contact for bail, and cigarettes sewn into your clothes for barter.

5. How to make better soup: Join a food line.

Ken Smith adds:

I was in that kitchen with Bo Keely for a noon meal, on the house. All the throwouts from local restaurants went into a huge soup kettle then were ladeled out the local members of indigent society who shuffle around the town, sleep under abandoned houses, camp under bushes by the nearby Colorado River.

I was not able to figure out how Bo differentiates himself from these bums, but his mind is compartmentalized, with these bums in one compartment and himself in another. The main difference is Bo acquired an education, was once a national paddleboard champion, racquetball player, and knows how to artificially inseminate cows. And he walked across 95 countries around the world.

Why he ended up eating in a free kitchen soup house and sleeping in his car is a mystery. I visited him twice with to discover how I might affect his life. Alas, such intentions are common to fools. Moses couldn’t change his tribe; as soon as he turned his back they reverted to character. Jesus failed also, nothing has changed in human nature since he ascended to the heavens. I guess he’d had enough for a couple million years and will renege on his promise to return.

Bo has been out of work for years, to my knowledge. His last occupation was substitute teaching in the local high school. Out of work so long he has no employment record from which to draw unemployment benefits. In times past could be arrested for “no evident means of support.”

One thing likable about Bo is he doesn’t give a hoot what anyone thinks about how he eats or dresses. Truly he has created his own life.


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