Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Mount Pleasant’s very own Hassie Holmes is loved by many. Most people don’t know the man personally, but have developed relationships with him as they pull up to the corner of Houston Northcutt Boulevard and Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.
Holmes is a fixture at the corner where he has been selling newspapers and magazines from a home cart for more than 20 years.
About a month ago, Holmes was taken to the hospital to be treated for various health issues. It was first reported that he had been hit by a car.
But the Mount Pleasant Police Department said they never received a report of such an incident. However they were called out to check on Holmes’ condition, and found him in poor condition after receiving calls by the public to check on him.
He was taken to East Cooper Medical Center and once his condition stabilized, he was moved to a medical transition home in the north area until he can fully recover.
Last week on a crisp, sunny day, Holmes grinned widely as he explained that he was doing just fine. “You just have no idea how many people you have touched until you leave,” he said.
Holmes refers to the fact that he can no longer be found on his corner where he worked seven days a week, no matter the weather.
He has been kept abreast of the outpouring of love he has received from well wishers. And he wants to let everyone know he is fine and in good spirits, he said.
With the help of Deborah Still, MSW, LISW-CP, with Roper St. Francis Healthcare Holmes is being well looked after.
She is the medical social worker for his case.
A guardian and conservator are also in place to help Holmes make appropriate medical choices to take care of himself.
At 62 years old, Holmes said his future is uncertain. But what he is certain about is maintaining what he calls his “sunny side” and his appreciation for the community that adores him so much.
Not one to typically ask for help, Holmes is realizing that he just might need some.
The medical bills, housing and continuing care expenses need to be paid.
He said he is physically and mentally fine, but until the doctors release him, he must stay put.
Mount Pleasant resident Ellen Bishop saw a Facebook posting about Holmes’ condition last month and wanted to do something to help. She banks at Capital Bank and asked Charlie Gamble, assistant branch manager, if a donation fund could be set up in Holmes’ name.
That account is still active and donations can be made at Capital Bank at 651 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.
Donations can be made in person, by mail or by using the night drop. Explicit instructions must be included so that the donation goes straight to the Hassie Holmes Fund.
Stop by or mail a check to the Hassie Holmes Fund at 651 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, S.C. 29464.
Still said that until his Social Security kicks in, financial assistance would be greatly appreciated.
“First hand I have seen the good spirit this community has to offer,” said Holmes. “I saw it on a day-to-day basis, but now I am seeing it directed toward me with everyone’s love and concern.”
He said he didn’t want anyone to worry because he is in a clean, safe medical transitional home, and provided three meals a day.
It has given him the opportunity to learn about himself, he said.
He said he is getting stronger each day. He enjoys the morning sun on the front porch, takes walks everyday and busies himself with reading and watching the news.
“The impact I had on everyone each day was kind of lost on me until now,” he said. “I take that very serious and I do not take it for granted. I never did and even more so now do I recognize it.”
Holmes said he misses seeing everyone and appreciates the cards of encouragement and love.
“I’ll never forget everyone’s kindness and love,” he said.
“But this is a transition for me and I guess sometimes you just got to stop and smell the coffee.”
What a life
Hassie Holmes grew up in Charleston, but left the area in 1969 and moved to Connecticut, and remained there for nearly 25 years. Hassie earned an associate degree in electronic engineering technology at the University of Hartford’s Ward College of Technology, and later taught physics at public and private schools in Connecticut. He returned to Charleston in 1993, where he spent one semester as an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston and another semester at Trident Technical College, also as an adjunct professor.He has been living in his mother’s home taking care of her until she passed away at age 94 in May.He said he has had a well-rounded life, built on the philosophy of hard work. And while he admits his future plans are uncertain and he may not return to his familiar corner, he is thankful for the welcoming arms of so many who helped him and befriended him through the years. People brought him meals, holiday cards with cash at Christmas, tips for his service. He said he’s lived his life under a very wide umbrella, “but once the train leaves the station you can’t do too much more but go with it.”And while this particular journey wasn’t planned, he said he plans to stay positive and find something new to do.“My purpose in life has always been simple,” he said. “I am supposed to give back. And I have done that. It has allowed me to always go bigger and better and to grow whatever it was I was doing at the time.”And after at least 10 push carts, a variety of umbrellas (all shapes and sizes) and the donation of some pretty flashy sunglasses, he said he might just be ready for a change.“And I am always ready he said. You got to stay on your toys. Imagine being able to throw a newspaper in a car window, carry on a conversation, say hi and bye - and do it in less than two seconds?”Holmes said he will remember fondly his work, and the historical milestones that happened during his time selling papers. For example he received 900 papers of the 9/11 tragedy in the drizzling rain. They were the second edition published that morning, but he still sold out. And of course when Harris Teeter continuously ran their $10 off coupon, people would buy papers just to get the grocery store discount. He made sure a coupon was in each paper he sold. Those days bring back fond memories for Holmes, but he has new things to look forward to as well. If his seven-day-a-week appearance on his corner didn’t make him famous, perhaps his cameo in the new music video for Stop Light Observations will. Stop Light Observations is an all-local group. The name Stop Light Observations originated when member John-Keith Culbreth was sitting at the stop light at Hardees on Houston Northcutt. When he was at that stop light and he looked around and noticed everyone looking at each other and taking a second out of their time to observe everything around them and it hit him that Stop Light Observations could be a band name. And then he spotted Holmes, the king of stop light observations. Holmes was on the cover of their last CD and on their T-shirts. And now he has made an appearance in their new video for Smilers of the Night. It goes without saying he has been an inspiration to the band.“Whatever happens, I will keep a positive attitude and find outlets for activity,” he said. “I’m not going to sit around being vegetative. I am in a good state of mind. For now, I just would like to thank everyone for their love and support. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas as well.”