Steve Golak

Portraits of Homelessness

Photos and stories of men who are homeless

My name is Stew Golak, but I never go by that anymore, only “Tiger.” I’m 73 but don’t feel that old.

I was born in Buffalo. The winters there are terrible. Oh, man! You think you have a lot of snow here, you ought to go to Buffalo.

We came to Cleveland, and I went to South High – played football and baseball. I loved playing baseball. One day we were playing over at Gordon Park, my dad sitting there watching. He kept waving to me. “What’!” I said. They had a scout there from the Indians. “You wanta play pro ball?” Dad asked. “Sure.” On February 26th the scout had plane tickets for me and my buddy Hank to fly down to training camp in Florida. But I just sat on the bench, didn’t get a chance to play. So I went to the National League and played with the Pirates almost two and a half years.

I tell ya, I had a good life until I started drinking, and drinking ruined everything- lost my home, my job, became a bum,
worse than a bum.

My dad had been an alcoholic; that’s all he did. Mom, she was great – didn’t drink except at weddings and first communions.

My brother Ray and I got along real good. We could pass for twins. After he passed away, I was sitting at a bar with a buddy drinking a cold beer on a hot day. Across from us was the mail lady. She said, “Ray! I thought you passed away!”

When I was married to my wife Gail we had three children-Patty Ann, Steve, Dale. Patty Ann joined the Air Force, wanted to be a pilot. In her class of 200 she came in second. One day they called me from Germany, informed me my daughter had died of a cerebral haemorrhage. At her funeral they had a 21-gun salute. My boys are working the pipeline in Alaska. I miss ’em-looking forward to them coming home.

I tell you, this place 2100 is nice. Course I don’t want to stay here. My buddy and I are waiting. He’s found an apartment and they’re refinishing the floors. Then we’ll get out on our own. I have social security-direct deposit to the bank. If I need it, I’ll take some money out for cigarettes or candy.