Everyone I knew called him Junior, because that was his name. I don't recall many people calling him Peanut, but they well could have.
Back in the sixties and seventies, when I'd go to work with my dad downtown or to the courthouse, police station or sheriff's department, I'd see Junior. Junior sold peanuts, and would often give me peanuts if my dad wasn't around with money. I was probably five or six years old when I first met Junior.
Over the years, I came to know Junior pretty good.
Later, when I became a police officer, I would still see Junior, now using a motorized cart, at HPD or HCSO or the courthouse. Numerous times, myself or other officers would load Junior's motorized cart in the trunk of his Mother's car. Everybody helped Junior and they didn't have to be asked. They'd see Junior heading towards his Mom's car and just head that way to help him out.
I recall asking my father, when again I was five or six and saw Junior the first time, about why a man who had such a hard time moving was working so hard, or working at all. Pride, my father said, and a desire to do something with his life. He explained to me that sitting at home being sick was much worse that going out there and succeeding even if success meant struggling.
He had a very loving and devoted mother. She would wait patiently for hours while he sold his peanuts, sitting in her car. But I always admired both of them for really loving and taking care of each other.
Of course, I thought it way cool that someone was selling peanuts at HPD or the courthouse, just like over at the Astrodome. My father told me how much he and many others admired Junior, because although Junior had a serious disability and medical condition, he still wanted to work and be productive.
And Junior was. I know there are many disabled folks who would like to work but can't because of their condition or circumstances or job availability. But for the mass of folks who are minimally disabled but are lazy who don't want to work that we see in the criminal justice system constantly, Junior was their anti-matter. It's unfortunate that more people are not like Junior, my father told me often, because our world would be a better place with some work ethic and drive.
Instead, everyone is waiting on the government dole.
Junior didn't wait on the dole. He made his own world happen, despite obstacles put in his way. He was happy selling those peanuts. And that's what I remember about Junior. He was happy.
Rest in Peace, Junior. You earned it. And thanks for the life lessons you gave many of us along the way.