Bus cleaner, 97, has missed just one day of work in 70 years

Discussion in 'Bizarre and Off-Beat News' started by Casshew, Feb 14, 2004.

  1. Casshew

    Casshew Former Member

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    At 97, Arthur Winston has seen much change in L.A. But one constant has been his job: 70 years cleaning buses -- with just one day's absence.

    Strong and sharp and bearing down on 100 years of living, Arthur Winston has drawn a bead on what it takes to age well.

    Cut up the credit cards.

    They don't do nothing more than bring about worry. Worry will kill you.

    Get off the couch.

    Stop in one place too long, you freeze up. Freeze up, you're done for.

    Work as long and hard as you possibly can.

    Folks retire, they end up on the front porch watching the street go by. Despair sets in, you're good as gone.

    He is probably older than you. If not, he has probably worked longer. If not, he has probably seen and struggled through more of society's changes, most of them experienced from a single vantage point: a sprawling South Los Angeles bus yard.

    Known as Deke to some and Mr. Winston to most, he is walking history and living parable. A 97-year-old black man who turned the sting of racism into something sweet. A man who plans on loving every bit of life until his very last breath. A witness to the ways a city has changed, for better and worse.

    In 1924, at age 17, Mr. Winston started cleaning trolley cars for the Los Angeles Railway Co., which morphed and merged nearly half a dozen times and is now the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

    He has never left. For 70 years and counting, Mr. Winston has worked for the transit agency as a service attendant, applying spit, polish and love to vehicles ranging from the current fleet of buses to the trolley cars that once made the Los Angeles transit system a marvel.

    For as long as he has endured, he has been astonishingly consistent.

    In 70 years, according to the MTA, Mr. Winston has missed just a single day of work — the day his wife died in 1988. The records show that he has never been late, never left early. He has never been so sick that a gulp of milk of magnesia couldn't stave off illness and let him drive down Arlington Avenue in the predawn darkness for yet another shift.

    Story from LA Times
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