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After Thirty Years, Rickey Has a Place to Call Home

By Ed Fuentes and Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, April 24, 2009, at 02:35PM
RickyThePirate Ed Fuentes

Rickey the Pirate at The Nickel.

Rickey the Pirate is one of the better-known faces in the Old Bank District.

Many of those who recognize Rickey on the street don't know that his last name is Taylor, or that he will turn 62 on June 3rd. They don't know that he was born in Texas, that he grew up in Watts or that he's been on the streets of Downtown for the last thirty years.

As of this week, he finally has a place to hang his hat at night.

Standing at the corner of 5th and Main today, Rickey was speaking fast, but for a change his eyes were not bleak. They looked rested.

Several weeks ago, DLANC's Russell Brown found Rickey in the street with broken teeth and a bloody eye, injured after an altercation, and he knew something needed to be done.

"I knew that he would probably get so hurt again that something really had to change quickly," says Brown. If not, "he would be dead next time."

Brown's relationship with those involved in the county's Project 50 helped the two navigate the shoals of getting Rickey into the program. Rickey's new room at the Rainbow Apartments is his first real home in three decades. He moved in on Monday, after Brown took him for a celebratory dinner.

Many locals have spotted Rickey in odd places, grabbing sleep when he could, or simply exhausted from illness. "I have bad kidneys, or something," says Rickey. "I don't really drink that much. It might be diabetes. That's what a doctor told me a long time ago."

He plans to hold onto his new place, and hopes to keep doing odd jobs. As he lists his work experience, Rickey stops and looks at the two galleries at 5th and Main. He pauses. "It was Bert Green, and Shane [Guffogg] who first gave me some work a few years ago."

On Friday, Rickey was still wearing his trademark hat, an indication that his pirate persona hasn't been taken away by his new lifestyle. While Rickey the Pirate still sails the streets of Downtown, Rickey Taylor has found a home.

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