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StoryCorps: Edwin Lanier Jr.

From: StoryCorps
Series: StoryCorps
Length: 02:58

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Edwin Lanier [La-NEAR] Jr., who is homeless, to his friend David Wright

Lanier_small Edwin Lanier [La-NEAR] has been sober for more than 5 years. But, as Lanier told his friend David Wright recently, he drank for most of his life -- and nearly drank himself to death. That was the prognosis that Lanier, now 60, got from a doctor after receiving his 28th treatment for alcoholism. As a young boy Lanier had been told by his father that alcoholism ran in their family. Back then, Lanier was known as "Little Mayor" -- his father was a two-term mayor of Chapel Hill, N.C. "I'm an alcoholic just waiting for the first drink," his father told him. "And I refuse to take it." Lanier said he would keep it in mind. But soon after, some college kids offered him and a friend a drink. Lanier accepted, and drank for more than 40 years. Lanier and Wright met on an exit ramp where Lanier stood holding a sign that read, "Homeless. Anything will help. God bless." Wright handed Lanier a $2 bill and a can of tuna fish every time he passed by. Wright and his wife eventually took Lanier in, giving him a shower and clean clothes, and a place to start over. Five years later, Lanier and Wright are remain good friends. But he's still homeless -- by choice, he says.

Piece Description

Edwin Lanier [La-NEAR] has been sober for more than 5 years. But, as Lanier told his friend David Wright recently, he drank for most of his life -- and nearly drank himself to death. That was the prognosis that Lanier, now 60, got from a doctor after receiving his 28th treatment for alcoholism. As a young boy Lanier had been told by his father that alcoholism ran in their family. Back then, Lanier was known as "Little Mayor" -- his father was a two-term mayor of Chapel Hill, N.C. "I'm an alcoholic just waiting for the first drink," his father told him. "And I refuse to take it." Lanier said he would keep it in mind. But soon after, some college kids offered him and a friend a drink. Lanier accepted, and drank for more than 40 years. Lanier and Wright met on an exit ramp where Lanier stood holding a sign that read, "Homeless. Anything will help. God bless." Wright handed Lanier a $2 bill and a can of tuna fish every time he passed by. Wright and his wife eventually took Lanier in, giving him a shower and clean clothes, and a place to start over. Five years later, Lanier and Wright are remain good friends. But he's still homeless -- by choice, he says.

Broadcast History

NPR's Morning Edition, 10/20/06

Transcript

DW: Would you say you came from a predominant family?

EL: Yeah, I came from an excellent family. My daddy was elected mayor twice. I used to walk down the streets holding his hand, everybody'd stop'n pet me on the head'n say, "how you doin' little mayor?" Uh... yeah I had a wonderful daddy.

DW: Your dad knew that there was alcoholism in the family?

EL: Oh yes sir, I had alcoholism on both sides but the worst came out on my daddy's side, and uh, when I was about fourteen he said, "son look, you come from a long line of chronic alcoholics." He said "I'm an alcoholic just waiting for the first drink and I refuse to take it." He said "if you do you'll get away with it for awhile but it'll destroy your life and probably kill you." And he said "i want you to remember that." And I said, "okay daddy I'll give it some serious thought."

I gave it enough thought that that halloween I we...
Read the full transcript

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

And it's time again for StoryCorps, the project that's traveling the country, bringing people together to record their stories.
(Soundbite of music)
David Wright and Edwin Lanier [La-NEAR], Jr. are good friends. They lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Lanier is homeless, but his childhood was very different. His father was Chapel Hill's mayor in the late 1940s and '50s.

[TAPE]

OUTRO:

Edwin Lanier, Jr., with his friend David Wright at StoryCorps in Durham, North Carolina. Mr. Lanier has been sober for more than five years. He is still homeless by choice. StoryCorps recordings are archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. And you can hear more StoryCorps interviews at npr.org.

Related Website

http://www.storycorps.net/listen