At the University of Wisconsin, Madison in the early 1980s, one of the signs of spring was the return of the street people. When the weather warmed from minus 20 to positive 40, the street people turned up and the students wore shorts.

There was Art the Window Washer. There was also Gotta Quarter.

Gotta Quarter had long grey matted hair and wore layers including more than one wool blanket. He would appear suddenly out of the shadows, looming. "Gotta Quarter?" He was big compared to my 5'4" and 125 pounds.

I think that sometimes I gave him a quarter. Or some change. And sometimes not.

He and Art and the robins and the crocuses: spring in Madison, Wisconsin.


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