Briefs: Mobile Junction January 16, 2009

LE ROY STANDISH/The Daily Sentinel
THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN has cut Robert Nichols’ wages in half, but he’s optimistic the situation can’t get any worse. Nichols gets 30 cents a pound for the cans he collects, down considerably from when he could get 70 cents a pound for his collections.

Man optimistic even in leanest of times

• The combined misfortunes of the world’s commodity prices have collectively cut Robert Nichols’ daily wages in half.
“When cans are 70 cents a pound, you can make $20 a day, easy,” he said.
The cans he collected last summer fetched him a good price at Van Gundy’s Ampco, a recycling yard.
The season may have grown colder and the economy may have tanked, but Nichols, not unlike everyone else, keeps on doing what he does. He still carries the same burlap bags and he still fills them with just as many cans.
Prime canning spots for Nichols include Dumpsters outside apartment complexes rented to college students. Other cans come easier. Friends collect them and set them out for him to collect.
“It helps out,” he said.
To earn his wage, before retiring into a tent shared with another person by the river, Nichols said, he walks four to five hours every day. He sifts through trash and picks up cans with a “canning stick.” He wears a biker’s light — found while canning — wrapped around his head.
“I find all sorts of neat things,” he said.
Valuable as they may be, his finds come nowhere near a minimum wage.
When times were good, Nichols made $4 an hour for his efforts. Now that he can only fetch 30 cents a pound, he makes around $9 a day in the same five hours, he said.
That’s about $2 an hour — an hourly wage half what he used to make.
“Some days more, it just depends,” Nichols said with an air of optimism. “I think the economy will come back up. It can’t go any lower.”

Methodist church beckons music lovers

•  People should never be surprised when they hear “God Bless America.”
But Thursday, those with their ears perked could hear the patriotic tune growing and fading with the wind. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the noonday chime cascading from the spire of First Methodist Church, on the corner of Fifth Street and White Avenue, in downtown Grand Junction.
Outside, a little gray-haired lady using a walker waited for her daughter to park the car.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” she said.
Inside, the people were greeted by Phillip Wyse, the organizer of what he calls “A Little Noon Music.”
Early arrivals were seated in the pews and late-comers clamored to the balcony.
There, at the focus of everyone’s silent attention, where traditionally spoke a reverend, sweet music was breathed to life by Michael “Mick” Wilson. The voice of his clarinet flowed skyward, filled the hall and danced with the misty sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows.
Connie Smith accompanied on the piano.
It was the first such musical interlude this year. Beginning at 12:15 p.m. and lasting a half hour to 40 minutes, “A Little Noon Music” is performed at the church the second Wednesday of each month.
And the best part: It’s free.


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